It is better to be safe than sorry. Auto mechanics may indeed have a better grasp on the meaning of that statement. There are a few simple preventative maintenance steps car owners can follow to keep their vehicles chugging along. One of the easier steps is doing regular coolant flushes and then filling the separate reservoir located near your car’s radiator with fresh coolant. This will help keep your engine sound and avert one of those untimely breakdowns that none of us are fond of. On this page, we are going to check out some of the best antifreeze products currently available and then talk about coolant basics in our following sections.
5 Best Antifreeze Products of 2017
Here our Twelfth Round Auto’s top 5 picks for the best antifreeze products. Fortunately, antifreeze is one automotive fluid that is not too expensive, even when considering products from the top brands.
Manufactured by the renowned Prestone, this antifreeze is one of the most popular products out there and makes a run for the title of best antifreeze coolant. Its wide application in the automotive industry is due to its exceptional performance. Rated for 5 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first, you’ll be good to go for quite some time.
This Prestone product is pre-diluted with 50% antifreeze coolants and 50% demineralized water (no mixing required). This unique combination offers impeccable heat protection to as low as -34 degrees. The water used is mineral-free reducing deposit formation inside the cooling system. This prevents water pump failure.
This antifreeze also helps to prevent the rubber parts of the radiator from cracking. It is suitable for vehicles with pressure caps on their radiators and recovery bottles. The Prestone coolant AF2100 is harmful and should be kept away from the reach of children.
The patented Prestone “Cor-guard” corrosion inhibitors protect your cooling system from corrosion and rusting. This solution is engineered for virtually any make and model, and is Prestone’s most versatile antifreeze product.
This is another popular product but this time from Valvoline. It is one of the best coolants for aluminum radiators It employs the Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) to provide ultimate protection from rust and corrosion designed for both gasoline and diesel engines. The formulation is based on a reduced pH, phosphate free European technology. This technology helps protect the cooling system metals (including the rarer aluminum) from corrosion.
Zerex Antifreeze is low on silicate and 100% free of phosphate hence more effective in offering protection when used with aluminum based vehicles. Its formulation has proved to be efficient in keeping the cooling system free from rust, corrosion, and radiator failures.
The brand offers your vehicle 5-year full protection or 150,000 miles, which is incredible when compared to other brands. The concentration is pre-mixed at 50/50 so it is ready to use, no need to add water. Zerex antifreeze works with street cruiser motorcycles, snowmobiles, street-touring motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles.
The G13 Coolant is Audi’s genuine antifreeze product. It is the best engine coolant for VWs. One thing to keep in mind on this one is that it is not a premixed (aka pre-diluted) formula, so you do need to mix in water with at a 50:50 ratio. So one 1 gallon bottle will net you 2 gallons of coolant. Make sure to use distilled or de-mineralized water for optimal results.
The reason you may want to consider G13 Antifreeze for your Audi or VW is that this coolant formula has been tested with the alloys used in the VW engine, thermostat, radiator, heater core, etc and may not have been fully tested with North American generic. While putting something like Prestone in the European cooling system probably isn’t going to hurt it, we think the extra few bucks every four or five years is probably worth the peace of mind that it won’t cause trouble.
Next up in our list is a product from Honda and one of the best coolants money can buy. Much akin to Audi’s Genuine Antifreeze G13 product, the Type 2 antifreeze is Honda’s genuine coolant. It fits all of Honda’s models including Acura, but with other brands it is going to be hit or miss. This is a genuine OEM fluid, the same fluid that a brand new Honda vehicle comes loaded with.
The ethylene glycol base is excellent for protecting all those aluminum cooling system components Honda is so fond of using. The downside is that this Genuine Honda formula is a bit more expensive than your average antifreeze/coolant, but the upside is that it is one of the top rated products on the market.
This long life antifreeze is rated for complete protection covering 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Chock full of corrosion inhibitors, the Honda coolant will protect your cooling system components without any additional additives. Flush out your cooling system with diluted water, add about 1.5 gallons of this formula, and you’re good to go.
The K-Seal product here is a little different than our four other options. One of the best coolant additives, this is a professional grade solution for older vehicles and/or vehicles that have experienced a cooling system problem. A great way to sidestep a costly repair bill from your automechanic, the K-Seal formula is an easy fix your a coolant leak issue.
No need to drain or flush, just add this to your antifreeze and it will fix all your cracks and leaks in head gaskets, cylinder heads, heater cores, water pump casings, and other cooling system components. A 30-60 seconds shake is also vital in ensuring that the contents are evenly distributed in the solution.It is compatible with most other antifreeze brands.
Once a crack or leak has been located, microfibers in the formula instantly begin to mesh together and seal the gap. This repairs holes down to a minuscule size of 0.635mm. Once the microfibers have meshed together and filled the hole, exposure to external temperature and/or the gases within the combustion chamber as well as the heat dissipated from the cooling system itself will cause the formula to cure. The result? A permanent seal that is able to withstand high pressures.
What is AntiFreeze?
What is antifreeze? Is it the same thing as a coolant? Correct, nowadays antifreeze and coolant are interchangeable terms. Modern day antifreeze formulas are capable of both preventing a car from overheating as well as help your car operate fine in temperatures well below freezing. It is important liquid that works to keep your car running when temperatures drop or increase. This automotive fluid runs from the radiator in a circular pattern under a car’s hood to maintain an operational temperature for the engine and other key components. Without antifreeze, your engine may overheat or even crack.
How Does Antifreeze Work?
Antifreeze is an automotive fluid that is circulated through and around the car’s engine and other key components. Powered by the water pump, this constant circulation helps remove combustion-generated heat from the engine (of which there is much in modern day fossil fuel powered combustion engines). Also, it will circulate through the heater core as well. The heater core is the unit that provides heat to the vehicle’s interior. After this, the coolant will return to the radiator where the heat is removed. This cycle repeats itself as long as the engine is running.
Water alone would help keep a car’s engine cool. However, the freezing point of a water-based liquid would not fair well in cold climates such as Alaska and Canada. Antifreeze formulas are specially engineered to lower the freezing point of water and likewise raise the boiling point. Therefore, when supplemented with antifreeze, your engine can handle high combustion temperatures in addition to high outdoor temperatures and continue to run without a hitch.
How Often Do I Change Antifreeze?
A good rule of thumb is about every 60,000 miles, but we highly recommend checking your vehicle owner’s manual. If you like to fine tune your vehicle to operational perfection, you can take matters into your own hands. By using a hydrometer you can measure whether or not your antifreeze still has freezing and boiling protection. A second and important test is testing for corrosion. This can be completed by periodically looking for signs of rust and then using test strips that measure acidity. By running this check, you will know whether or not the corrosion inhibitors have deteriorated. If so, you’re ready for a coolant flush and refilling with fresh coolant.
The frequency of how often you should do a coolant flush widely varies by what coolant product you are using and your vehicle’s make/model. For example, many Chevrolets suggest a 150,000 schedule while Hyundai says coolants should be replaced after the first 60,000 miles and each 30K after that. Then you’ve got Mercedes-Benz recommending every 150,000 on some models while they recommend a 30,000 interval on others. As you can see, it’s all over the map, which is why we suggest consulting your dealership, manufacturer, or vehicles owner’s manual.
Truth be told, modern vehicles have longer intervals between fluid changes. This is mainly because environmental regulators have pushed manufacturers to become more efficient and reduce the amount of automotive waste fluids that need to be disposed. Does that mean you shouldn’t worry about it? No.
Preventative maintenance in all aspects of car ownership is something we encourage, even with a seemingly unimportant fluid like antifreeze. Coolants will deteriorate over time, and even if testing shows the antifreeze an cooling protection is good to go, antifreeze can still become more acidic after medium to long term use. This means the antifreeze will lose its rust inhibiting properties which leads to corrosion. Corrosion is not a friend to your engine. It can damage the water pump, radiator, thermostat, and other parts of the cooling system.
What Should You Consider Before Buying Antifreeze
The safest route you can take is consulting your vehicle owners manual, dealership, or manufacturer to determine to best antifreeze for your specific make/model and driving conditions.
Diesel engines differ from petrol engines when it comes to antifreeze specifications. For example, diesel engines are prone to cylinder wall corrosion. To avoid this, users need to refill their radiators with antifreeze containing Supplemental Coolant Additives (SCA). It is good to go through the vehicle manufacturer handbook so as to understand your engine specs and the recommended antifreeze.
Type of Antifreeze
The technology used in the manufacture of engines has evolved over the years. This implies that the antifreeze manufacturing technology has changed too in order to meet the demands of the modern automotive industry. Most cars manufactured in between the 1920s and 1990s used the traditional Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT) that contains phosphate and silicate. Later, Organic Acid Technology (OAT) commonly used by Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and GM models was introduced. It is suitable for use with engines incorporated with aluminum radiators and last longer compared to other brands. Another antifreeze technology is the Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) that has nitrates and silicates added in the concentrate. It is mostly used with Asian and European cars. What does all this mean? Simply that every car runs best on a certain kind of antifreeze that will optimize engine performance and offer protection. For instance, you can’t use antifreeze based on IAT on a car that uses HOAT. It is advisable to follow the recommendations of your car handbook or contact the manufacturer for clarification when necessary.
Ethylene Glycol or Propylene Glycol Based Antifreeze
Some car brands can only be used with antifreeze brands that contain ethylene glycol. It is good to be informed so as not to feed your radiator the wrong coolant. Ethylene glycol is more efficient, and always at a lower temperature compared to propylene glycol. However, ethylene glycol is highly toxic and very irritating. Special caution must be taken when handling ethylene glycol based antifreeze coolants.
Some antifreeze brands such as K-Seal are prediluted and ready to use while others require the addition of distilled water. Most brands are sold as a 100 percent antifreeze solution, those some are mixed with distilled water in a ratio of 50/50. The concentration mix percentage can vary from 50-70 percent in order to optimize heat transfer. Always read the labels to determine whether your antifreeze is ready to use type or requires the addition of water. It is also advisable to avoid using hard water (non-distilled) due to the mineral content that increases rusting and corrosion.
This is one of the most crucial considerations to take into account before making an antifreeze purchase. The best radiator coolants for your vehicle will depend on your environment as well. Some are engineered for more extreme weather conditions than others. For example, if the temperature in your area regularly drops below 34 degrees Fahrenheit, it is recommended to purchase a 70-30 or 60-40 distilled water to antifreeze ratio product.
The Benefits of Using a High Quality Antifreeze Product
Buying a car happens after a significant financial sacrifice. No single car, no matter how low its price is, can be taken for granted when it comes to protection. Giving your car the care it deserves drives the conversation to its heart straight away: the engine. Feeding your engine premium automotive fluids will keep it in the fight for all 12 rounds.
Is there a best coolant out there? Some car owners and specialists would argue for one brand over the other. However, it all depends on what vehicle you own and that will determine what the best engine coolant is for you.
Of course, there is a significant difference between someone who is using antifreeze for their car and that other person using water. Antifreeze coolant can be a real savior when temperatures are extreme. Those who have experienced engine failures due to overheating or freezing are well acquainted with the reality that antifreeze matters.
Using water for your car? These are some of the benefits you are missing:
- Temperature Protection – Antifreeze products are well formulated and mixed with distilled water (not all) in appropriate proportions in order to enhance heat transfer protection. Unlike water, antifreeze products are able to dissipate more heat and thus prevent the engine from overheating.
- Prevents Rusting and Corrosion – The best car coolants have additives added in order to prevent the inner chambers from rusting or being corroded. Foaming is also reduced. Regular coolant flushes will help wipe away rust and scale deposits which tend to build up in a car’s cooling system overtime. The formulation of antifreeze coolants is designed to prevent the inner engine parts from forming deposits, a major cause of failure.
- Renders Contaminants Harmless – All cooling systems loose their anti-corrosive properties over long periods of time and that leads to a build up in contaminants. An antifreeze flush will completely cleanse these particles from your car’s system.
- Solution to Leakages – Some antifreeze brands are able to seal the leaking parts completely saving you the cost and energy of having to refill your radiator.
- Extends the Water Pump Lifespan – The best coolants for cars contain additives that help lubricate your vehicle’s water pump. This lubrication works to extend the lifespan of the pump.
- Longer Lasting – Whatever fluid you are using as a coolant will eventually become acidic and break down. This will cause clumping and inefficiencies in your cooling system. A quality antifreeze product will last longer and will be less prone to clumping.