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Engine Coolant: A Comprehensive Guide

Amongst the many containers, dipsticks and liquids found in the bonnet of your car will be the engine coolant. Though we all know to keep this liquid filled between the min and max lines, many people remain unaware of exactly what coolant is and what function it provides. Coolant is actually extremely important to the efficient operation of the car’s engine. This article will answer everything you need to know about engine coolant.

What is engine coolant?

Engine coolant is a mixture of antifreeze and water. The addition of antifreeze to water prevents the water from freezing by lowering its freezing point. It also raises the boiling point of water to prevent overheating. Essentially, engine coolant ensures that the fluid needed to power the car successfully remains usable in significantly high or low temperatures.

Is coolant the same as antifreeze?

No. This is a common misconception that has likely stemmed from the two terms being used interchangeably. Antifreeze is a liquid, typically based on ethylene glycol, that is used to lower the freezing point and increase the boiling point of water. Coolant is the name given to the mixture comprised of both antifreeze and water. Water is a liquid. Antifreeze is a liquid. When they are mixed together, coolant is created.

Is engine coolant important?

Engine coolant is very important in ensuring the fluids in your vehicle are flowing smoothly and that internal components are sufficiently lubricated. If coolant maintenance is poor, the effects can be seriously damaging and sometimes irreversible. Poor coolant maintenance may introduce excess moisture into your vehicle. This can turn into water vapour and heat up the metal components in your engine. An overheated engine can be very dangerous, but even when remedied can leave irreparable damage to the components that can be costly to replace.

What are the different types of engine coolant?

There are three main types of coolant:

  • Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT) – This is the most common type of engine coolant. It has been used for many decades and has been proven to be reliable for corrosion protection. IAT typically needs to be changed every two years or 24,000 miles.
  • Organic Acid Technology (OAT) – Unlike traditional coolants, OAT coolant doesn’t require supplemental coolant additives at scheduled intervals, making for a true long-life product. It requires a change after five years or 50,000 miles.
  • Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) – This type of coolant uses organic acids. It also possesses silicate which provides quick-acting protection for aluminium surfaces. HOAT is a derivation of OAT and also requires a change after five years of 50,000 miles.

What coolant do I need?

Not every coolant can be used in every type of vehicle. Refer to your car manufacturer’s handbook to identify which type of coolant your car uses. 

Oaks Services is one of the leading providers of first-rate MOTS and car repairs in the South East. Our expert team of trained mechanics are fully versed on how to replace and maintain coolant and offer a comprehensive list of repair and maintenance services to all other areas of your car. If you’re a customer in the wider Surrey area, including Weybridge, Woking, Addlestone and Staines, give our team a call today for the most reliable local MOT service.