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Dickson's 1st Auto Repair Blog

Winter and your coolant

Cold weather is nearing. If you own a car, truck, or tractor, it*s time to check the freeze level of the coolant in the radiator and cooling system or replace with new coolant mixture if the mixture has not been changed according to your maintenance schedule.
Most of the antifreeze products on the market currently are ethylene glycol base material with additives to prevent corrosion, lubricate seals and water pumps and aid in heat transfer to the coolant from the metal of the engine. Antifreeze should be mixed with distilled water (tap water contains high amounts of minerals such as calcium and iron that can precipitate and coat internal parts) at the ratio of one part antifreeze to one part water. This gives freeze protection down to minus 34 degrees and boil-over protection up to +265 degrees. Never use pure antifreeze in a cooling system without using at least 30 percent water in the mixture. Most antifreeze products sold for the past several years have been the traditional "green" coolant. This type is good for two to three years and up to 30,000 miles. The green antifreeze contains silicates, phosphates and / or borates as corrosion inhibitors to keep the solution alkaline. As long as the solution remains alkaline, corrosion is controlled and the system is protected. Over time, the corrosion inhibitors will be depleted and the corrosion protection is lost. It is for this reason that green antifreeze should be changed every two years or so. Aluminum is especially vulnerable to corrosion and many vehicles have heads, radiators and other aluminum components in the cooling system. 
An alternative to tradition green antifreeze is. "Orange" antifreeze. An  extended life antifreeze is used to increase the life of engine coolant. It is ethylene glycol base as is the green antifreeze. The difference between the two colors is that orange antifreeze contains a different type of corrosion inhibitor that has a much longer service life than silicates, phosphates and borates. Orange antifreeze contains organic acids that protect engine parts from corrosion. Silicate (green) type antifreeze does not mix with orange type antifreeze. Never mix the two colors in a cooling system. The organic acids in orange types will cause precipitation of silicates in the green type and corrosion protection is greatly reduced. Orange type antifreezes are good for up to five years or 100,000 miles in newer vehicles. They can be used in many older vehicles  if all of the green mixture is flushed from the system and is replaced with the orange mixture. Useful life is about four years or 60,000 miles in older cars.
Toyota uses a red antifreeze  and should not be confused with the orange type long life antifreezes. It is basically  the green type of antifreeze that contains red dye to give it the red color. If you have doubts about switching from the red or green type of antifreeze to the new orange extended life antifreezes, call us and ask about compatibility with your engine parts and cooling system.
The freeze protection level of a coolant mix has little to do with the corrosion protection of the coolant mix. The freeze level of the mixture may test to a satisfactory level, but corrosion protection may have degraded. Change your coolant mix on a schedule based on the color of the antifreeze you are using. Severe corrosion to engine and cooling system components can occur with resulting expensive repairs

20 Comments to Winter and your coolant:

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2003 Honda Accord Power Steering Hose on Friday, February 4, 2011 4:43 AM
nice write up! additional to that is we can still cause a vehicle that is starting in the summer to not start or run poorly when it gets really cold out. Worn spark plugs and excessively high resistance plug wires make the ignition system work harder. Cold weather causes even more resistance to electrical flow. Add the two together and your ignition system may not have enough reserve power to fire the air fuel mixture in cold weather. The engine also needs more fuel when it is cold. A restricted fuel filter may not cause a problem in the summer, but may restrict fuel enough in the winter to cause problems. There are a few vehicles that do not have serviceable fuel filters, so you will have to check with your automotive technician to see what your vehicle’s needs are. :)
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A/C Compressor on Thursday, January 31, 2013 8:36 AM
thanks for the information, i hope it will be useful.
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car accident lawyer sydney on Friday, July 19, 2013 7:43 AM
Winter season creates several problem for cars. Those person who lives in cool places has become need to use antifreeze products for their cars.
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Dennis on Friday, August 16, 2013 7:40 AM
That was nice post
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It is important to use anti freeze products in our vehicles. It's helpful in winter season and helps to prevent freezing of engine oil.
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Elizabeth Brewer on Thursday, October 8, 2015 8:29 AM
Thanks for the blog. Winter makes it critical for the vehicle engine to run properly and we need to be watchful for it. You're right antifreeze is a good solution for vehicle coolant system in winter. After reading the blog, I really got to know a lot, these are really important for a user. A vehicle needs special care and maintenance in winter for a better performance.
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