Antifreeze is a colored fluid poured into the radiator or coolant reservoir to help regulate your engine temperature during extreme weather conditions. As the engine and ambient temperature change, the antifreeze travels from the radiator to the engine blocks and maintains optimal operating temperature.
Antifreeze, however, does much more than regulate engine temperature. It also prevents rust in coolant lines and other cooling system components. But using the wrong type of antifreeze will increase the risk of engine overheating, which could cause catastrophic engine breakdown. To avoid this, most motorists often ask – what type of antifreeze does my car take?
Here, we’ll resolve all contemplation regarding ‘does it matter what type of antifreeze I put in my car, and does it matter what color of antifreeze I put in my car? But first, let’s examine the various types of antifreeze for car engines.
Antifreeze Types Explored
There are different types of antifreeze on the market shelves. We’ll decipher the difference between them and why you should consider coolant color when shopping for antifreeze. Firstly, we have 50-50 and full-strength antifreeze.
A full-strength antifreeze requires mixing it with distilled water before pouring it into your radiator or coolant reservoir. The 50-50 antifreeze, or coolant, is a pre-mixed antifreeze and water.
With antifreeze, you decide on what blend ratio to use based on the weather conditions. For instance, a 50-50 blend is ideal for protecting winter temperatures of around -30 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, if you live in regions with extremely cold temperatures, use a 60-40 antifreeze and distilled water mixture.
Note: Do not refill your coolant reservoir or radiator with 100% antifreeze. The antifreeze will freeze at 10 degrees Fahrenheit instead of -30 degrees if you do so. And do not mix antifreeze with tap water. Drinking water contains some dissolved chlorine or chemicals that will cause issues in the cooling system.
Let’s examine various types of coolants for cars and see how to identify them by their colors. This will help you avoid mistaking one type of engine coolant for another. Plus, a change in coolant or antifreeze color will tell you when the coolant is contaminated or getting at the end of its service lifespan.
IAT (Inorganic Acid Technology)
This is the oldest type of antifreeze and coolant with bright green color. Most car manufacturers stopped using this coolant in 1994, while Ford Motors continued using it until 2002.
European and Asian car manufacturers stopped using this type of antifreeze in 1990. IAT antifreeze contains silicates and phosphate that work fine with copper or aluminum radiators and cast iron engine blocks.
Manufacturers recommend you change or flush the coolant at least once in two years or every 36,000 miles. If you disregard this recommendation and allow the coolant to stay there for an extended period, its efficiency will degrade and invariably affects the cooling system’s performance. In addition, the IAT cool will clog the heater core if you fail to flush or change it as recommended.
OAT (Organic Acid Technology)
The organic acid technology antifreeze typically has blue, orange, red, or dark green color. It doesn’t contain any silicates or phosphate compounds. It is suitable for cars built after 1994 with an extended service life of 150,000 miles or five years.
However, you need to confirm the recommended antifreeze for your car. You may wonder, how do I know which coolant to use in my car? We’ll explain that in the following few paragraphs.
HOAT ( Hybrid Organic Acid Technology)
The hybrid organic acid technology antifreeze is a blend of IAT and OAT antifreeze. They typically come in yellow, blue, purple, pink, or turquoise. The HOAT antifreeze is perfect for modern Chrysler, Asian, and European cars.
From the above explanation, you can make a proper buying decision when searching for coolant types for diesel engines. The above engine coolants are suitable for both petrol and diesel engines. But let’s see how to choose the proper antifreeze for your car.
What type of antifreeze does my car take?
As reiterated above, IAT coolants are compatible with cars manufactured before 1994, while OAT is suitable for vehicles built after 1994. On the other hand, the HOAT is a hybrid of both IAT and OAT coolants. It is mainly used in newer Chrysler cars and Asian and European cars.
While this tries to point out the required coolant for your car, it doesn’t specify the needed antifreeze or coolant.
All vehicles typically come with a factory-fitted antifreeze or coolant in the radiator. You should stick to this coolant type and color throughout the vehicle’s lifespan. Also, your car manufacturer will specify this coolant type in the owner’s booklet.
If you can’t track the recommended coolant, visit your dealership, they should provide you with this information.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Q: How do I know what coolant to use for my car?
The correct coolant for a car is written on the owner’s booklet. However, if you can’t get this information, drive to your dealership and purchase a coolant or antifreeze. They will sell the correct coolant recommended for your specific car model. And you are guaranteed they’ll sell the right coolant for you.
Q: Does it matter which antifreeze coolant I use?
Antifreeze plays a significant role, and each one is formulated to keep a certain engine running perfectly. However, you must know the differences among these engine coolants to get a suitable one for your vehicle.
Using the wrong antifreeze on your car will gradually cause corrosion on the radiator hose, water pumps, radiator, and cylinder gaskets. This will cause engine or cooling system component damage in the long term.
Q: What happens if you use the wrong color of antifreeze?
Antifreeze color is used for marketing and identification purposes. Sometimes, using the wrong antifreeze color means using the wrong coolant for your car. For instance, HOAT coolant uses yellow, pink, purple, blue, or turquoise.
Using bright green when the car manual recommends HOAT coolant means you’re using the wrong coolant on the car. This will invariably cause engine overheating and corrosion in some cooling system components.
Q: What happens if I put two different types of coolant in my car?
Antifreeze is formulated with different additives. Mixing two different types means adding various additives that may not be compatible. And this will impair the performance of the coolant. It may also cause gradual rust in the system, which may escalate to a significant issue in the long run.
If you have been reading to this point, you’ll no longer ask what type of antifreeze my car takes. We have explained the common types of antifreeze and the vehicle they are suitable in.
But is antifreeze vehicle specific? Each antifreeze is built explicitly for certain engine types to keep them running smoothly in extreme weather conditions.
In summary, the required antifreeze for your vehicle is the coolant that comes with your car. You can also find this information in the owner’s manual or visit your dealership. Your dealership is guaranteed to sell the required antifreeze to you. Then you can stick with the antifreeze you purchased from the dealership.