Coolant & Antifreeze Explained


oilman

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May 2, 2008
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Coolant and antifreeze is a topic we are asked about on a regular basis, and often causes confusion; types, colours, service life etc.

Perhaps the most frequent cause of confusion is what the difference between anti-freeze or coolant is. Basically, they’re the same product (although the term “coolant” could just be applied to plain water; see below!)

To help clear some of the confusion up on the more technical details of antifreeze and coolants we enlisted the help of Martyn Mann – Technical Director, Millers Oils UK - who has provided the information below.

Not all antifreeze / coolant is the same!

Coolant can be plain water; water is a very effective coolant but would not protect against sub freezing temperatures or protect against corrosion inside the engine. The use of antifreeze protects against both problems.

Antifreeze not only suppresses the freezing point of your engine coolant, but provides good corrosion protection and increases the boiling point during use.

Most commercial antifreeze formulations include a glycol (to suppress the freezing point and raise the boiling point), corrosion inhibiting compounds and a coloured dye (commonly orange, green, red, or blue fluorescent) to aid in identification. A 1:1 dilution with water is usually used, resulting in a freezing point in the range of minus 37 °C to minus 42 °C, depending on the formulation.

There are two basic types of coolant available today dependent on the corrosion inhibitors used:

·inorganic additive technology (IAT)
·organic additive technology (OAT)

Inorganic Additive Technology

This is the traditional coolant based on inorganic additives and is called inorganic additive technology (IAT). It is a tried and proven chemistry that provides a fast acting protective film. The additives deplete and the coolant needs to be drained and replenished every couple of years. This type can be used on all mixed metal engines with components including steel, cast iron, copper, brass, aluminium and solder without any detrimental effect.

Organic Acid Technology

The newer OAT coolants work differently than the older silicate based IAT coolants. Aluminium and ferrous metals form a surface-layer of corrosion in the presence of moisture, even with the little bit of moisture in the air. OAT coolants prevent this metal-oxide layer that protects the surface against this corrosion. Inherent with their design, the OAT coolants last longer than the older traditional IAT coolants. This category of antifreeze cannot be used in systems containing yellow metals.

A couple of questions and answers.

Why are coolants different colours?

Coolants/antifreezes are coloured so you can visually see them; colour intensity can be an indication of over dilution. The different colours are non specific to the different types of antifreeze. The manufacturer can dye the product any colour they want. The colour is no guide to the actual type of antifreeze type and the label should be read before use.

What is best for performance use?

It is always best to use the engine manufacturer’s advice. If engine contains yellow metals [copper and brass as in older vehicles] then the long life products based on organic technology should not be used. As a general rule, most modern engines require the long life organic antifreezes.

Is there any advantage to using concentrate over pre-mixed coolants?

None other than the user may want to use the pre-mixed product due to ease of handling or cost and visa versa.

Can concentrate and pre-mixed coolants be mixed?

A simple answer is that you can, however do not mix IAT and OAT antifreeze together.

So, there we go. Hopefully this information has been useful, if you have any further questions not covered here please ask and I will try to get the answer.

With thanks to Martyn Mann and Millers Oils.

Cheers

Guy and the Opie Oils team.
 



ramboteamjon

1998 EK9 CTR sold. EP3 CTR
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Apr 21, 2008
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Excellent info!

how much coolant will the B16B engine take when replacing the whole lot?
 


ramboteamjon

1998 EK9 CTR sold. EP3 CTR
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Ah just saw it in another post. 5 litres but I just have a single core Rad so maybe a bit less
 


yardy@37

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Jan 10, 2008
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Excellent info!

how much coolant will the B16B engine take when replacing the whole lot?
Great write up indeed :) Think I saw somewhere on here the amount the satndard cooling system will take is 4.3 litres. Does anybody on here know how much the coolant costs from Honda? I may just give them a call & find out.
 


yardy@37

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^ Just rang the local Honda, it's £18 for 5 litres & £4:50 for 1 litre. The prices at Stuart Graham in Crewe.
 



ek_mo

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Great info :nice: Is it important to use distilled water? Why not tap water? Or can this be used?
 


Rich777

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It all depends on what the waters like in your area. If you live in a hard water area then its a no, no. I live in a soft water area and use tap water with no problem. Its the lime scale whats the problem. As it reduces the heat transfer rate when it sticks to cylinder liners and head passages.
 



ek_mo

Jordan 331
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Ok thanks for the info :nice: I'll just stick to the pre mixed type 2 coolant
 


wriggley

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Jan 29, 2011
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how can i completley drain the coolant from the engine for a complete change i fitted new hoses the other night and topped up with water to check for leaks air locks etc now i need to do a complete change for some proper coolant and de-ironised water
 


ek_mo

Jordan 331
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Jan 26, 2009
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^^ I would also like to know this. Changing rad hoses, thermostat and fan switch as I had a problem with the fan not kicking in. I've drained all the old coolant but how do I comepletely flush it out? Worth changing anything else while i'm at it?
 



tama666

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Spot on information, thank you for sharing and mods for the sticky.
 



mkc2bad

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Feb 1, 2011
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indeed a great sticky...... only one question which i couldn't see answered. Should the EK be using OAT or IAT based coolant?
 




oilman

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May 2, 2008
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indeed a great sticky...... only one question which i couldn't see answered. Should the EK be using OAT or IAT based coolant?
According to my data, you can use either, just don't mix them.

Cheers

Tim
 


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