Antifreeze? Coolant? Are they the same? Both antifreeze and coolant are similar and perform similar jobs, the main difference is that antifreeze is used in colder weather due to it’s resistance to the cold. Considering the fact that we are blessed with living in a very moderate temperature area, we will use the word coolant for this article. Right about now you are probably asking yourself, why should I care about coolant. Well, just like engine oil, coolant is one of the vital parts of keeping your vehicle safe and you on the road and not on the side of the road. Let me elaborate…
Coolant does not only fill your radiator and expansion tank, it actually helps to control the temperature of other fluids and various engine parts. Some think of coolant and glorified water, but it’s so much more! Coolant is a unique fluid that has additives that help it remain a liquid in both extreme hot and cold temperatures. Not only does it remain a liquid, it has super powers that allow it to not evaporate and to help protect the metallic surfaces of all of those engine parts that it comes in contact with. It also has a secret power, shhhhh, it helps to keep you warm when it’s cold outside! I can almost hear you saying “What?!?” Let me explain. That coolant that mills around inside of your engine compartment makes it’s way through the heater core and that heater core does a ton of work to create heat to warm you when you turn up the temperature with that little knob in your dash.
Wait… let me get back to why coolant is so important to that amazing piece of machinery that helps to transport you to where ever your heart desires. Coolant is all about science. It is this perfect concoction of water and ethylene glycol or propylene glycol, that when maintained, holds itself at the perfect PH balance to avoid electrolysis when it comes in contact with various metals. In our area, this is the most important reason to have your cooling system checked periodically. When a leak occurs in your coolant system, wether it be a hose, water pump, gasket or seal or even the radiator, the PH balance is disrupted and corrosion will begin. It is when that impeccable balance is disturbed that failures begin to happen. Water pumps will start to leak, pitting will begin and cause hoses to start leaking, radiators start to build up sediment and do not flow as they should. It can create a situation similar to opening a can of worms! Ouch!
The good thing is, it’s easy to remember to service. I like to think of things in numbers. Most cars require that the cooling system fluid exchange happen every 24 months regardless of mileage. The easy thing about that is you can either be an even person or an odd person and make a note to have your cooling system serviced during your birthday month of either the even or odd year! Easy right?
Coolant is just one of those lifeblood fluids that keep your investment on wheels on the road. Happy driving!