Antifreeze for Car – What Is It and Why Use It?

While you may be enjoying balmy weather, you should think about adding antifreeze to your car. You don’t want the water in your car’s cooling system reaching its boiling point during summer or freezing during winter. So, in this article, I’ll discuss antifreeze for a car – what is it and why use it?

Antifreeze is also often referred to as engine coolant. It is a colored liquid formulation mixed with water to ensure the optimal operation of the engine during extreme temperatures. If antifreeze is not used, combustion inside the engine will cause it to overheat and lead to the engine seizing up quickly.

Overheating as well as freezing can cause severe damage to the engine. It may cause your truck or car to stop running. In addition, the antifreeze will ensure the smooth running of your engine and prevent rust from developing on gaskets and other metallic parts of the cooling system.

Read on to learn more about what antifreeze is, why you need to use it, and the benefits it can give to your car.

Antifreeze for Car

Antifreeze for Car

Help the Engine Operate Optimally Even During Extreme Temperatures

Antifreeze is a colored liquid formulation designed on cars to help the engine operate optimally even during extreme temperatures. It is also often referred to as engine coolant.

As you run your car’s engine, the combustion taking place inside it will cause it to seize up – if you will not use antifreeze quickly. That’s the primary reason why you should not run your car without adding antifreeze.

Prevent the Development of Rust on the Gaskets

Additionally, the antifreeze will also prevent the development of rust on the gaskets and the other metallic parts of your car’s cooling system. Freezing and overheating can cause severe damage to the engine. They can stop your car or truck from running.

Lowers the Freezing Point of Water

What the antifreeze does is lower the freezing point of water. Doing so will protect the cooling system from the adverse effects of ice formation. Antifreeze is usually available in the form of propylene glycol or ethylene glycol.

Protects the Radiator from Rust and Corrosion

It is usually mixed with the water in the car’s cooling system and prevents freezing of the water contained in gasoline or diesel fuel. It can also protect the radiator from damage brought about by rust and corrosion.

Pumped Throughout the Engine Block

The temperature by which a car engine operates varies from hot to cold. It is during such extreme temperature variations that the antifreeze does its work.

It is pumped throughout the engine block to keep the engine temperature even and constant. As a co-related function, antifreeze also helps in heat transfer and prevents the formation of scales.

All Engine Coolants Are Glycol-based

All engine coolants are glycol-based. The coolants you will find in the market today are composed of ethylene glycol with some additives and water. Another antifreeze type is propylene glycol and water. Propylene glycol antifreeze is less toxic than ethylene glycol antifreeze.

Importance of Antifreeze

Protects the Engine from the Extreme Temperatures

Antifreeze is essential for your car engine mainly because it can protect your engine from the effects of extreme temperatures. It can lower the freezing point and raise the boiling point of water. So, it will prevent water from the radiator from boiling, evaporating, or freezing.

Prevents Engine Cylinders From Seizing Up

When you drive your car, its engine is constantly subjected to extreme temperatures, especially during the cold winter months and hot summer days. If there’s no antifreeze in your car, the combustion inside the engine cylinders will quickly raise the engine temperature to the point where it will seize.

The engine will stop running, and the chance of severe or even fatal damage will be very high. Antifreeze helps prevent this from happening.

Lubricates Cooling System’s Metallic Parts

Antifreeze also lubricates the cooling system’s metallic parts in contact with water, preventing rust and scales from forming.

How Antifreeze Works

Antifreeze is usually called an engine coolant when the solution is 50-50. It is this ratio that can stop water running through your car’s cooling system from freezing in cold winter and from boiling in hot summer.

Lowers the Freezing and the Boiling Point of Water

How does antifreeze make this possible? It works by lowering the freezing and the boiling point of water. So, the water coursing through all the cooling system components will not freeze during winter.

This same water won’t heat up so much during summer because the antifreeze has lowered its boiling point. So, the antifreeze will help the engine to run smoothly.

Prevents the Formation of Scales

In addition, the antifreeze will also prevent the development of rust on the gaskets and the metal parts of the cooling system. This also prevents the formation of scales because water contains magnesium and calcium.

These are minerals that can accumulate in the metal surfaces of the cooling system. Scale that is just about 1/16 inch thick can reduce the system’s efficiency by about 40%. So, using antifreeze will help efficiently transfer heat, which reduces the risk of engine overheating.

Again, what does antifreeze do for a car? Antifreeze or engine coolant combined with water can help your engine regulate its temperature better during extreme temperatures. Change in temperature triggers the engine to pump antifreeze throughout the engine block. This action helps maintain the engine’s operating temperature.

Antifreeze Benefits

antifreeze for cars in winter

As you can guess, using antifreeze in your car will enable you to enjoy some of its benefits. Just imagine that it is -20 degrees outside with your car parked in the open all day. When you turn the ignition key, the engine instantly revs up.

Or you’ve been driving all day in sweltering heat on the highway. Your car seems to have no problem cruising at moderately high speeds. Do you know what makes it run even in these extreme temperatures? It is the antifreeze in your car’s cooling system.

You are already enjoying some of its benefits. What are the other benefits of using antifreeze?

1. Prevents Breakdowns

Statistics show that around 40% of all car breakdowns on the road are due to cooling system problems. So, vehicle owners and fleet operators have to use antifreeze in their units.

They will prevent downtime and the attendant loss of revenues for fleet owners and their employees and avoid expensive vehicle repair expenses.

2. Improves Fuel Economy

Antifreeze prevents the formation of scales on cooling system components. Scales come from water’s microscopic mineral contents, generally used as a raw engine cooling agent. Without adding antifreeze to this water, scales will form.

Scales will reduce the cooling efficiency of the cooling agent. It will result in the engine using more fuel to generate the same power. By adding antifreeze to the raw cooling agent – water, scales will not form on the engine’s cooling components, resulting in a more fuel-efficient engine.

3. Protects the Engine

Antifreeze has properties that can protect and extend the service life of car engines. It contains blends of substances designed to inhibit elements that can degrade internal and external parts of car engines.

Antifreeze can provide up to 600,000 miles or the equivalent of 12,000 driving hours, guaranteed protection against extreme temperatures, rust, corrosion, and premature water pump failure.

4. Reduces Downtime and Maintenance Costs

Antifreeze protects the engine and its parts and the components of the cooling system. It prevents the untimely breakdown of the water pump, wet sleeves, radiator, and the polymers and metal components inside the engine.

The antifreeze will reduce your car maintenance cost and the downtime that will ensue if it breaks down.

5. Antifreeze Is Compatible with Other Car Maintenance Products

Most antifreeze products are compatible with other vehicle maintenance and car care products. There is no acute danger in combining antifreeze with these other products.

How to Use Antifreeze

Allow the Engine and Radiator to Cool Down for One Hour

If this is the first time you will use antifreeze, you need to be sure that the engine and radiator of your car are cold. In other words, if you have just driven your car, you need to let its engine and radiator cool down first before using the antifreeze. Give them at least one hour to cool down.

Remove the Radiator Cap and Pour the Antifreeze Inside the Radiator

Once they have cooled down enough, remove the radiator cap and carefully pour the antifreeze inside the radiator. Replace the cap once you’ve done adding the right amount of antifreeze.

Consult the Car’s Operator’s Manual

Be sure to consult your car’s operator’s manual for the right procedure on doing this and as to what antifreeze you need to use and the right amount to add.

Remember that your car’s cooling system is pressurized, and its water content is scorching when the engine is running. So, take the necessary precautions when you are doing this procedure.

Do You Need to Change Antifreeze?

antifreeze for car radiator

Change the Antifreeze Periodically

You need to change the antifreeze periodically. Like all the fluids your car uses, such as the brake fluid and transmission fluid, the antifreeze also breaks down over time. It becomes acidic and can no longer fulfill its function when that happens.

Acidic Antifreeze Causes Rust and Corrosion

When the antifreeze gets acidic, it will cause rust and corrosion to form in the metal components of the cooling system. The water pump, thermostat, radiator cap, and hoses will be attacked by rust and corrosion.

Harmful rusted particles will accumulate inside the radiator and flow with the cooling system’s water. These contaminants will reduce the ability of the antifreeze to control the temperature of the engine.

As a result, the engine can overheat, the engine block can crack, or the piston can seize up.

Check the Manual

The best thing to do is to check the instructions in your car’s operator’s manual on how often you should replace the antifreeze. Generally, antifreeze is replaced every 30,000 miles or the equivalent of three years.

How to Change Antifreeze

If you’ve been using antifreeze, and it’s time for you to change it, here’s a safe procedure that you can follow:

  1. Let the engine and the radiator cool down, if you have just driven your car. Wait for at least one hour for them to cool down.
  2. Once the engine is cool enough, open the hood and examine the radiator for leaks or cracks. If there are damaged sections, you need to repair or replace them.
  3. Unscrew the radiator cap.
  4. Loosen the drain plug of the radiator.
  5. Drain the antifreeze.
  6. Once the draining is complete, replace the drain plug and tighten it.
  7. Refill the radiator with distilled water.
  8. Run the engine for at least 10 minutes.
  9. Stop the engine after 10 minutes and let it cool down.
  10. Drain the radiator again.
  11. Refill the radiator with radiator flush and top it off with additional distilled water.
  12. Repeat these steps until you see that the water draining out of the radiator is clear.
  13. When the water is already clear, fill up the radiator with a 50/50 solution of distilled water and antifreeze.
  14. Once you are finished, ensure that the radiator cap is back on its seat, and tightened so it can completely seal the antifreeze and the water inside.

Conclusion: Antifreeze for Car

Antifreeze is also often called an engine coolant. It is a colored liquid formulation designed to be mixed with water to ensure that the engine operates optimally continuously, even in extreme temperatures.

If you do not use antifreeze, the combustion inside the cylinders will cause the engine to heat up quickly. This may lead to the engine seizing up. Antifreeze also helps prevent rust in the metallic components of the car’s cooling system.

Read next:

The Best Coolant for BMW – Top 7 BMW Antifreeze Coolants