How to Choose the Right Antifreeze for Your Car
Buying the right antifreeze is not about comparing the color of your old antifreeze to the new one. Antifreeze must be designed specifically for your automobile engine. The following tips will help you choose the right antifreeze for your vehicle when the mercury drops.
Types of Antifreeze:
Most antifreeze is actually a mixture of antifreeze and coolant. Car manufacturers design engines with one type of antifreeze in mind. That's why it's important to consult your owner's manual to find out which antifreeze is best for your vehicle.
- Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT): Most automobiles manufactured before 1990 use IAT. This antifreeze contains silicates and phosphates which help prevent corrosion of the metal. IAT antifreeze is therefore an effective coolant. Although it is naturally light-colored, IAT antifreeze is tinted light green for easy identification.
- Organic Acid Technology (OAT): Auto manufacturers GM, Volkswagen, Honda, and Toyota use OAT antifreeze. It does not contain corrosion inhibitors like IAT antifreeze since it is used in engines with aluminum radiators. This antifreeze lasts longer and is available in a range of colors, from green to red. It must be changed every 240,000 km.
- Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT): this type of antifreeze uses the same compounds as OAT antifreeze; it, therefore, lasts longer than IAT antifreeze. Nitrates and silicates are added to prevent corrosion. Most Asian and European automakers as well as newer Chrysler models use HOAT antifreeze. It is usually yellow or orange in color and should be changed every 240,000 km.
Tips for Using Antifreeze:
- Never top up with a different antifreeze.
- Do not mix two types of antifreeze.
- Instead, drain your old antifreeze before using any other type of antifreeze.
- Your antifreeze can only be mixed with water to make it less viscous and more effective. The compounds used in antifreeze are very sensitive. They can react with any chemical in your water. So use distilled water for the best results.
- Never use HOAT or OAT antifreeze in older vehicles that have operated with IAT antifreeze. It can damage the engine.
Factors to Consider When Buying Antifreeze:
Consider these additional factors when purchasing antifreeze
- Propylene glycol or ethylene glycol: the antifreeze is made from propylene glycol or ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol transfers heat less efficiently. A larger quantity is therefore necessary in order to obtain lower freezing temperatures. However, it is more viscous and less toxic than ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is more efficient and is present in antifreeze at lower freezing temperatures. However, it is highly toxic and can irritate the skin.
- Gasoline or Diesel Engine: Diesel engines require a special antifreeze that contains supplemental coolant additives (SCA) to prevent corrosion of the cylinder walls. ACS also neutralizes acids and extend the life of your diesel engine.
The choice of the right antifreeze should be made according to the manufacturer of your vehicle, the type of engine it has and the temperature. Always use an antifreeze rated for a much cooler temperature than your area. Finally, never mix two antifreeze.