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How to Choose the Right Engine Coolant

Mukulika Mukherjee
Choosing the right engine coolant can appear tricky to the uninitiated, but isn't as difficult as it seems. All one needs is the right know-how, and this post is where you'll find it all.

Did You Know?

Using a coolant that is not compatible with the engine can lead to corrosion of the metal parts.
We know that the energy required to drive a car is obtained by the combustion of fuel in the engine. The process of burning of fuel leads to the formation of heat, which can melt the metal parts of the engine, causing irreversible damage. Hence, the need for a coolant system.
The function of the coolant system is to keep the engine from overheating. A coolant is a mixture of antifreeze and water, and its function is to transfer the heat building up in the engine, to the radiator. It also works to keep the car from freezing in regions that experience sub-zero temperatures.

Types of Engine Coolants

Coolants are composed of deionized water and glycol, along with certain inhibitors and/or additives. The addition of glycol increases the operating temperature range of the coolant.
When you're required to top off the coolant levels in your car, how do you know which coolant to go for? Are all coolants the same? Well, they're not, because there are three different types of coolants, and you should know which one is compatible with the engine, before you set off to buy one.

Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT)

Mostly used in cars manufactured in the US, this coolant is colorless and transparent. However, a greenish tinge is added to the coolant to help identify it. It contains sulfate and phosphate corrosion inhibitors, but no additives. It requires to be flushed out from the car's system once every 2 years or 30,000 miles.

Organic Acid Technology (OAT)

This coolant comes in different colors and is free of corrosion inhibitors. The absence of inhibitors means that it lasts longer, but has an adverse effect on the metal parts of the engine. To counter this problem to a certain extent, additives are added. This type of coolant should be flushed out of the car's system after every 5 years or 150,000 miles.

Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT)

These coolants also come in many colors, but are mostly yellow or orange. They contain silicate inhibitors as well as additives. These coolants need to be replaced after every 5 years or 150,000 miles.

Tips to Choose the Right Coolant

Now that we know what are the different types of coolants, let us see how you can choose one.

1. Refer to the Owner's Manual

When we talk about the owner's manual, we mean the owner's manual of your car. Most automobile manufacturers use only one type of coolant in all their vehicles. For example, Honda and Toyota use OAT. In that case, one look at your car's manual can make the task at hand easier for you, as you'll have an idea about the type of coolant to choose.
Also, look for the coolant inhibitor rating for your vehicle. In case, you've misplaced the manual, worry not! All you need to do is visit the manufacturer's website, and you'll have all the desired information at your fingertips.

2. Check the Current Coolant

It is never recommended that you use a mixture of two or more types of coolants in your car, because doing so can cause damage to your engine. Also, adding a high-grade coolant to a low-grade coolant does not result in an increase in the service life of the latter.
In fact, the resultant service life is always equal to that of the lower-grade coolant. Thus, you should check the coolant you're currently using, and then choose one that belongs to the same family. You can check the presence of inhibitors or additives in the coolant using a refractometer, hydrometer, or test strips.

3. Consider the Service Life

The service life of a coolant is the time period after which it needs to be completely flushed out of the car's system. When choosing a coolant, it's important to consider how frequently you are ready to get your car coolant system flushed.

4. Opt for Well-known Brands

What makes any brand popular is the quality of its products, and it is no different for coolants. The popular ones, such as Engine Ice and ThermalTake, provide greater protection to your engine and prevent corrosion.

5. Consult an Expert

If you still have queries regarding the choice of an engine coolant, then better ask an expert who can help you. Why not just ask the mechanic who repairs your car? He's sure to have a few useful tips up his sleeve that he'll happily share with you.

6. Consider Your Budget

How much are you ready to spend on your coolant? Considering your budget is important, because it is recommended that you should go for the highest quality coolant you can afford.
So, isn't it easy to choose a coolant? Well, it definitely is. All you need to know is what to look for.