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Posted: 08/18/2023

Choosing the Right Coolant for Effective Heat Dissipation

In the intricate world of automotive maintenance, something that often doesn't get the spotlight it deserves is the coolant. Coolants, or antifreeze as it’s often called, are responsible for absorbing excess heat from the engine and dissipating it, preventing overheating and potential damage.

Choosing the proper coolant for your vehicle isn’t as simple as just picking the first bottle you see on the shelf. It requires a basic understanding of what coolants do, the available types, and which is best suited for your vehicle. That’s why we’re here to guide you through selecting the correct coolant for effective heat dissipation, ensuring your engine stays cool under pressure.

Understanding Coolants: More Than Just a Heat Absorber

Coolants are vital fluids circulating through your vehicle's engine to absorb and disperse heat. These cool customers prevent the engine from overheating, which could lead to severe damage and costly repairs. Coolants also contain anti-corrosion agents that protect the engine's internal components from rust and degradation, ensuring a longer lifespan for your vehicle.

When shopping for coolants, you’ll primarily run across three types of coolants: 


  • Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT): This is the traditional green coolant widely used in vehicles until the mid-1990s. It contains inorganic corrosion inhibitors and is generally safe for all metal components, but it needs to be replaced more frequently than newer types.

  • Organic Acid Technology (OAT): This coolant, often orange or red, uses organic acids to prevent corrosion. It has a longer lifespan than IAT coolants but is incompatible with some metals, so it's unsuitable for all vehicles. 

  • Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT): As the name suggests, this coolant is a hybrid of the IAT and OAT. It's typically yellow or turquoise and combines the best of both worlds: the broad metal compatibility of IAT and the long lifespan of OAT.

Understanding these types of coolants is the first step towards making an informed decision about which is the best coolant for your vehicle.

Does it Matter Which Coolant I Put in My Car?

Selecting the proper coolant for your vehicle is a more than one-size-fits-all situation. You need to consider several factors in your decision-making process. Here are some key considerations:

  • Vehicle Manufacturer's Recommendations: As with anything vehicle-related, you should always refer to your vehicle's owner manual. Manufacturers often specify the type of coolant best suited for your vehicle's engine. Ignoring these recommendations could lead to engine damage.

  • Vehicle Age and Model: If you have an older vehicles, say one manufactured before the mid-1990s, often you’re going to need IAT coolants. Newer models may require OAT or HOAT coolants. The model of the car can also influence the type of coolant needed.

  • Climate: The climate in which you drive your vehicle can influence your coolant choice. Certain coolants perform better in extreme cold or heat, so consider your local weather conditions.

  • Coolant Color: While not a definitive guide, the color of the coolant can provide a clue about its type. However, colors can vary between brands, so it's essential to read the product label.

  • Metal Compatibility: Some coolants are incompatible with specific metal components in your engine. Please ensure the coolant you choose won't cause corrosion or other damage.

  • Service Interval: Consider how often you're willing and able to change your coolant. Some coolants, like OAT and HOAT, have longer service intervals than traditional IAT coolants.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose a suitable coolant for your vehicle, ensuring effective heat dissipation and optimal engine performance.

What Does Coolant Do In A Car?

Choosing the correct coolant for your vehicle is more than routine maintenance. It's a decision that can have a significant impact on the performance and longevity of your car. That’s why it is important to really understand what coolant does for your car and its engine. 

The primary role of coolant is to manage heat within the engine. It absorbs excess heat and dissipates it through the radiator, preventing the engine from overheating. Having the correct coolant in your car’s engine ensures effective heat management, safeguarding it from potential heat damage.

Moreover, coolants are formulated with anti-corrosion additives that protect the engine's internal components. With the wrong coolant, you may not have this essential protection, leading to rust and corrosion that can shorten your engine's lifespan. Compatibility is another crucial aspect to consider. Not all coolants are suitable for all engines. Using an incompatible coolant can cause damage to the engine's components, resulting in costly repairs.

Finally, using the correct coolant is instrumental in helping your engine maintain its optimal operating temperature. This critical aspect directly influences the engine's performance and efficiency.

What Happens When You Run Out of Coolant?

Running out of coolant can lead to serious engine problems. Without coolant, your engine can overheat, causing immediate issues like rough performance and potential stalling. Over time, the excessive heat can warp or crack engine components, leading to costly repairs such as a blown head gasket. 

The heat can also degrade the engine oil, increasing wear and tear on the engine. In extreme cases, the engine can become so hot that it seizes, making the vehicle undrivable. Therefore, it's essential to regularly check your coolant level and seek professional help if you notice rapid coolant loss or a scorching engine.

How Do I Add Coolant to My Car?

By maintaining the right level and condition of coolant in your car, you can ensure that everytime you drive to the grocery store, pick up the kids, or any trip is a smooth and stress-free operation. Here's a simple how-to guide on checking and replacing your coolant:

Checking Your Coolant

  • Wait until your engine is cool. Opening the coolant reservoir or radiator cap while the engine is hot can lead to severe burns due to the pressurized hot coolant. 

  • Locate the coolant reservoir. It’s usually located in the engine bay and is a translucent container that allows you to see the coolant level without opening it. 

  • Most coolant reservoirs have markings indicating the minimum and maximum coolant levels. The coolant should be between these marks. If it's below the minimum mark, you'll need to add more coolant. 

  • The coolant should be clear, not cloudy or filled with particles. If it's not, it may be time to replace it.

Replacing Your Coolant

  • Place a container under the radiator drain plug and open it to let the old coolant flow out. Be sure to dispose of the old coolant properly as it's harmful to the environment.

  • If the old coolant was dirty, you might need to flush the system with a radiator flush solution followed by water to remove any residue.

  • Close the drain plug and fill the system with the new coolant. Be sure to use the right type of coolant for your vehicle.

  • Start your vehicle and let it run for a few minutes, then check for any leaks. If there are no leaks, check the coolant level again and add more if necessary.

Remember, if you're unsure or uncomfortable doing this yourself, it's always best to seek help from a professional technician or your local Arnold Motor Supply. They can provide expert advice and service to ensure your vehicle's cooling system is in top shape.

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