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.

What about universal coolants?

There’s really no such thing as a universal coolant. If there was, there would be no need for the coolant manufacturers and carmakers to offer multiple types and colors. The truth is, only the carmaker knows which metals, plastics, rubber and gaskets are used in their engines. A universal coolant can’t possibly be compatible with all those materials.

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 in older vehicles. 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.

Worse yet, the anti-corrosive additives used in universal coolants can actually cause corrosion to some metals.

The correct coolant is easy to find

Most auto parts stores now sell coolants that match the carmaker’s specifications. So there’s no reason to buy the wrong coolant or a “universal” coolant.

You can always buy coolant at the dealer

Ok, it’s more expensive. But at most you only need two gallons. That’s a pretty small price to pay to prevent cooling system corrosion and component part failure. 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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