Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Which antifreeze do I use?

Which antifreeze do I use

There are many different types and colors of antifreeze. But only one is right for your particular engine. Using the wrong antifreeze or mixing different types of antifreeze can damage your engine and cooling system.

When people ask this question I always answer the same way. Use what the car maker recommends. There is no such thing as a universal coolant. So, if you own a late model GM vehicle, use DexCool. For any other car brand, go to the dealer and buy the factory coolant. Of course you’ll pay more. But once you understand why it’s so important, you’ll be happy you did. Here’s why.

Most auto parts stores only carry three types of coolant, the traditional green stuff, DexCool, and G5 “universal” long life coolant. All the coolant manufacturers say the G5 is a universal coolant that works in any vehicle. Unfortunately, NONE of the vehicle manufacturers agree. In fact, several have issued technical service bulletins warning their dealers NOT to use G5 in some applications.

Every vehicle is made with different metals. Late model engines are usually made with aluminum alloys, but sometimes the heater tubes are steel, while the water pump is usually made from magnesium. You’ll often find copper in the heater core. So you’ve got the makings of galvanic battery action in every vehicle and the coolant is the electrolyte. Use the wrong coolant and metal components will literally dissolve. Back to paying the big bucks for dealer coolant.

How much more is it? Well most likely double the price of G5. But really, since you only need two gallons, you’re talking $20 at most for the factory stuff. Now think about how much a heater core replacement will cost—or a radiator, water pump, heater tube. Getting the point. It just ain’t worth the price to try to save $20 by buying supposedly “universal” coolant. So go to the dealer and give them the year, model, and engine size and they’ll give you the right stuff. And don’t assume that all years or engines within a particular make use the same coolant. They don’t.


© 2012 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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