Graham Auto Repair

What is Antifreeze & Coolant?

Graham Auto Repair How to Check your Coolant and Antifreeze

How Important is Coolant & Antifreeze?

Check out our YouTube Video about Antifreeze and Coolant!

We all know that it's important to get our Oil Changed regularly (even if we do procrastinate) and we all know that it's impossible to drive our vehicle without filling it up regularly with Gas (boy do we all wish THAT wasn't true?!). But do you know that Antifreeze/Coolant is another very important fluid for our vehicles? Making sure that our vehicles have Antifreeze/Coolant with the proper amount of protection is VITAL to our vehicle's well-being.

What is Antifreeze/Coolant?

Before we get into the finer details about Antifreeze and Coolant you should know this: The names "Antifreeze" and "Coolant" are interchangeable. In the Summer it's better known by the name "Coolant" and in the Winter it's better known by the name "Antifreeze" due to the different functions that they perform at different times of the year.

Coolant in the Summer

In the Summer months Coolant Helps Our Vehicle's Engine to Cool Down; hence the name: Cool-ant. It has the basic job of making sure that our Engine doesn't boil over . . . We definitely don't want THAT to happen!

In an Emergency Situation (when you don't have immediate access to Coolant) you can get away with using plain water, temporarily during the Summer months, to Cool Down your Engine. Just know that this can be a pretty bad idea in general. Here's why:

1. Water is so much more susceptible to boiling over than Coolant is. This is due to the fact that water has a lower boiling point than Coolant does; which means that your vehicle can raise to higher temperatures with Coolant than it can with plain water.

2. Water can cause rust to build up inside your Engine. Coolant is specifically formulated to prevent rust build up.

3. Even more importantly: You definitely don't want to forget to add Coolant to your Engine before Winter comes . . . Keep reading to find out why.

Coolant in the Winter

In the Winter months Coolant Helps Our Vehicle's Engine to Keep Warm  in freezing temperatures. This is why we normally refer to it as Antifreeze. Get it? Anti - Freeze? It basically protects our vehicle's Engine by making sure that it doesn't freeze . . . Which we ALSO don't want to happen!

If in the Summer months you add plain water to your Engine (you know, when you're in a hurry) and then those freezing temperatures sneak up on you . . . you will really be in danger of ruining your vehicle in the Winter. Here's why:

1. Water freezes in your Engine, just like it freezes on your Windshield.

2. When water freezes it expands in volume.

3. Frozen water in your Engine can cause cracks in your Engine Block, your Radiator, and your Heater Cores. Not good!

See what I mean? This Coolant stuff is very important!

What Else Does Coolant Do?

That's not all that Coolant does!

1. Coolant is Anti-Corrosive. This means that it won't destroy all of the metals that it comes in contact with!

2. Coolant is Anti-Foaming.  It will prevent foam build up that would normally prevent our Cooling System from being efficient.

3. Coolant prevents deposits from forming, which is something else that can stop our Cooling System from being efficient.

Now, it's necessary to point out that neglected Coolant can cause the opposite to happen. In other words, if we don't inspect our Coolant regularly and we don't flush and replace it often enough, deposits will form that will mess with our Cooling System. It's important for our vehicles to have healthy Coolant with the proper amount of protection.

Different Types of Coolant

Now that we know what Coolant does to protect our vehicles, let's talk about the different types of Coolant. This part can get pretty confusing for someone who is trying to buy Coolant for the first time (even me) which is why I decided to interview our Service Advisor, Rob Flint, to get down to the specifics on all of the different types of Coolant. Rob has been a Service Advisor here at Graham Auto Repair since 2016, and whenever I am doing research for our Blog he always has a wealth of information for me to share with you all!

Rob tells me that there are basically 3 different main types of Coolants: Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT), Organic Acid Technology (OAT), and Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT). It's not necessary for us to get into the shop-talk details of all the different types of Coolants (though if you're curious, Rob knows enough for me to write a few more blogs about this stuff! haha).

For now let's just talk about the basics.

7 Basics About Coolant

1. There are Many Different Colors of Coolants: bright green, dark green, orange, bright red, red, blue, and yellow.

2. When in Doubt, Check Your Owner's Manual to find the best type of Coolant for your vehicle. If you've lost your Owner's Manual (who does that?) give us a call 253-847-2221. Our Service Advisors will be happy to help you figure out which Coolant is best for your vehicle.

3. DON'T MIX Coolants together in your Radiator (UNLESS it's specifically designed to be mixed with other types and says so on the label). If you don't know what type of Coolant is in your vehicle and you mix it together with a different type, this can destroy your Cooling System and end up costing you so much money! Mixing them together can also cancel out the benefits of the different types.

4. Normally Coolant Comes Concentrated; which means that it needs to be mixed with water – usually in a 50-50 ratio (unless it is marked specifically that it is pre-mixed already).

5. When Mixing Coolant with Water, its best advised to use distilled water in order to reduce the possibility of corrosion.

6. You May Mix the Coolant with More/Less Water during different times of the year. For example: in Winter you may use 70% Coolant and 30% Water; especially in extreme freezing temperatures. Always read the instructions on the Coolant to ensure that you are mixing with the best ratio.

7. Coolant needs to be Inspected and Replaced Regularly. Coolant is a vital part of keeping our vehicles operating properly, which is why it's so important to inspect it regularly. When you come to Graham Auto Repair for a maintenance or repair service, we always perform a Courtesy Vehicle Health Inspection. Inspecting the Coolant is just one part of our Courtesy Vehicle Health Inspection. We check the Ph, Alkaline and Acidity Levels. We also test for freezing and boiling points. We recommend to have a Cooling System Service completed every 30,000 miles; unless conditions cause the health of your Vehicle's Coolant to be poor sooner.

Time to Replace the Coolant

If you are in doubt about exactly how to replace your Coolant/Antifreeze, never fear! At Graham Auto Repair our Techs are more than happy to get this Service done for you. Just give us a call at 253-847-2221 or Schedule an Appointment online. Let our Service Advisor know that you would like an Appointment for a, "Cooling System Service." We know exactly how to take care of your vehicle, and we will make sure that the correct Coolant/Antifreeze is used. Also, we always perform a Courtesy Vehicle Health Inspection with every Auto Maintenance and Repair Service. We will do what's needed to make sure that your vehicle is ready to perform at its best for the Winter or Summer months, as needed.

We look forward to serving you!

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Graham Auto Repair in 2 Locations - Graham, WA and Yelm, WA