What is the Difference Between Coolant and Antifreeze?

What is antifreeze?

As far as a car’s radiator is concerned, winter and the freezing temperatures that it brings around the world is the most dangerous time of the year. The cold can have a seizing-up effect and severely affect the car’s engine, rendering it unable to run and necessitating expensive repairs (or the scrapping of the car completely).

To get round this, car owners employ antifreeze, which is often confused with coolant. Although you might think that coolant and antifreeze are one and the same, you’re both right and wrong.

Green coolant in a car radiator
Image credit: Evelyn Giggles via Wikimedia Commons

Antifreeze is commonly used as one of the components of a coolant mixture – coolant is generally a 50-50 split between antifreeze and water. Antifreeze (specifically the ethylene glycol which is its main ingredient) is used to lower the freezing point of the liquid that circulates around the engine of a vehicle in order to prevent it freezing during cold temperatures, as well as raising the boiling point of the liquid so that it doesn’t evaporate. As a whole, the coolant also keeps the internal parts of the engine lubricated so that they work smoothly.

What color is antifreeze?

The two common colors of antifreeze can also be the cause of confusion – why should one be green and one orange? The orange antifreeze is usually “extended life” antifreeze that lasts for longer than the green type due to a different type of corrosion inhibitor. Neither color is coolant, though – they should both be mixed with water (not with each other) to produce coolant, and never poured into an engine system by themselves.

Is antifreeze and coolant the same thing?

It should be clear that antifreeze and coolant are not the same thing, though you would be forgiven for thinking they are. The addition of water distinguishes the two, turning antifreeze into coolant and ensuring that it can effectively perform its main task of preventing both freezing and overheating within a vehicle’s engine.

I am constantly topping up coolant with antifreeze?

If your car is losing coolant it can often indicate a problem with the car radiator or head gasket. K-Seal is a scientifically proven, coolant leak repair system for this problem. Use our simple stockist search facility and you can get back on the road fast.

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