As winter approaches, we're often asked about antifreeze. There's a confusing number of different brands and different colours. So a quick few thoughts:
Firstly, what's the difference between antifreeze and coolant? For most people, there is no difference and the terms are interchangeable. However, if you wanted to be more precise (pedantic?), coolant can be anything that will keep an engine cool, e.g. plain water, whereas antifreeze has additional and more specific properties (e.g. stopping coolant from freezing).
However, let's stick with the term antifreeze...
Antifreezes include, amongst other things, a glycol which lowers the freezing point and raises boiling point, corrosion inhibiting compounds, a coloured dye. There are two main types of antifreeze and these feature different corrosion inhibitors:
Inorganic additive technology (IAT)
this is the traditional type of antifreeze and can be used in engines containing all types of metal. It needs to be replaced every couple of years and is typically used in older cars.
Organic Additive Technology (OAT)
This is the more modern formulation of antifreeze and cannot be used in engines containing 'yellow' metals, e.g. brass and copper. It's longer lasting and will go 4 - 5 years before needing replacing.
Although it's OK to mix different brands of antifreeze, IAT and OAT antifreezes must NOT be mixed, so check what's in your car and what you use to top up.
The IAT antifreeze we use is coloured blue and the OAT one is orange/pink. However, if buying antifreeze, DON'T go by the colour but DO read the label. There are no rules stating what colour dye a manufacturer needs to use...
As a general rule your coolant should include 40 - 50% antifreeze to give proper protection in winter time, but read the label on the antifreeze you buy when topping up your car's cooling system.
If you'd like us to check your antifreeze strength and condition, we're happy to do this - there's no charge, just phone and arrange a time to come in.
For a little more information on antifreeze/coolants, you can go to the website of one of our favourite companies, Opie Oils. Click on Antifreeze to learn more.