Coolant Vs. Antifreeze: What Is The Difference?

Coolant Vs. Antifreeze: What Is The Difference?

Key Takeaways:

  • Coolant keeps your engine cool and running smoothly.
  • Antifreeze prevents your car’s cooling system from freezing over in cold weather while it helps regulate the engine’s heat all year round.
  • Ask a local car dealership or mechanic to be sure about which fluid type is right for your car, or check out the manufacturer’s manual.
  • Lakeland Ford offers car maintenance services to customers in Brandon, FL, and the surrounding areas.


When it comes to car maintenance, one of the most important things you can do is keep your engine cool. That is why car owners need to know the difference between coolant and antifreeze. Coolant helps keep your car’s engine from overheating, while antifreeze keeps your vehicle from freezing in cold weather. Lakeland Ford will discuss the differences between coolant and antifreeze and explain which type of fluid you need for your car.

Car’s Cooling System

The car’s cooling system manages the engine’s temperature consistently. It uses a fluid, either coolant or antifreeze, to remove heat from the engine and circulate it throughout the car. The liquid then returns to the engine, absorbing more heat and repeating the cycle.

What Is Coolant?

The coolant is made of water and ethylene glycol with additive packages to prevent the engine from overheating by circulating through the radiator.

What Is Antifreeze?

Antifreeze is also a variation of coolant that includes an additive that helps keep the coolant from freezing in cold weather. It also raises the coolant’s boiling point, preventing it from overheating in hot weather. Most types of antifreeze contain ethylene glycol or propylene glycol.

Which One Should You Use?

Knowing the difference between coolant and antifreeze is essential because using the wrong fluid in your car can cause severe damage. You will need coolant for your vehicle if you live in a warm climate. Coolant helps to dissipate heat away from your car’s engine, and it also protects against corrosion. During cold environmental conditions, your vehicle will need antifreeze. Antifreeze prevents your car’s engine from freezing in cold weather, and it also helps to keep your car’s engine cool in hot weather.

If you’re not sure which fluid to use in your car, it’s best to consult with a car dealership or a mechanic. They can guide you on which type of fluid is best for your vehicle and climate to avoid the issue of overheating.

You can learn about the signs of engine overheating problems here!

How Do they Work?

– Heat from your car’s engine causes the water and glycol mixture in the coolant to evaporate over time. That leaves behind the glycol, which prevents corrosion.

– Antifreeze is added to the water in your car’s radiator to lower the water’s freezing point. This way, even if the temperature outside is well below freezing, the mixture in your radiator won’t freeze and expand, causing damage to your car.

– Coolant is usually a bright green or yellow color, while antifreeze is generally orange, blue, or red.

Types of Coolant

When classified based on technology, the coolant has three types:

1. Inorganic Acid Technology Coolant (IAT)

Inorganic coolant has a longer service life as compared to organic coolants. It is because the inorganic car coolants don’t form deposits. The only disadvantage of using an inorganic car coolant is that it doesn’t protect the metal surfaces for a long time from corrosion.

2. Organic Acid Technology Coolant (OAT)

Organic car coolants provide superior protection against metal surfaces and better heat transfer abilities. But, they need to be replaced more often than inorganic car fluids as they start depositing on engine parts after some time. Some newer cars use an OAT coolant.

3. Hybrid Organic Acid Technology Coolant (HOAT)

HOAT is the best car coolant as it has the benefits of both organic and inorganic car fluids. It is long-lasting and provides superior protection against corrosion.

How to Choose the Right Coolant?

The coolant you need depends on your car’s make and model. Some carmakers recommend using a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze year-round, regardless of the climate. It can help prevent overheating and freezing. So, it is always recommended that you use the car coolant recommended by the carmaker.

You can usually find this information in the owner’s manual. You can also consult your local car dealership personnel about the best type of car coolant for your vehicle. It’s also essential to use the correct mixture of water and coolant. The ratio differs depending on the type of coolant you’re using.

How Do You Know Car Needs A Coolant Or Antifreeze Flush/Change?

There are several ways to tell if your car needs a coolant or antifreeze flush/change. One way is to check the color of the fluid. If it’s brown or rusty, it’s time for a change. Another way is to check the level of the fluid. If it’s low, that means you need to add more. Finally, you can also tell by the smell of the liquid. If it smells sweet, that means too much sugar (base ingredient) is deposited in your radiator, clogging its channels. You will need to service and flush your radiator.

What Happens If I Use Coolant and Antifreeze Interchangeably?

Can I use coolant in my car if it requires antifreeze? The answer is no. Using coolant instead of antifreeze in your vehicle can cause severe damage to the engine if the outside temperature is freezing. If you’re unsure which kind of fluid your car needs, check the owner’s manual or ask a professional at our dealership. We’re always happy to help!

Use Coolant and Antifreeze Responsibly

Now that you know the difference between coolant and antifreeze, you must use your car’s correct fluid type. Check the owner’s manual for specific instructions about the kind of fluid to use. And if you’re unsure, feel free to ask your expert local car dealership or mechanic.

Be sure to dispose of unused fluids properly so they don’t end up in our environment where they can harm. And always recycle empty containers so they can be used again and again.

No matter which type of coolant you use, be sure to check the level regularly and top it off as needed. A car that doesn’t have enough coolant can overheat, causing damage to the engine.

If you’re unsure which type of coolant to use in your car or how to check the level, talk to the experts at your local car dealership. They’ll be happy to help keep your vehicle running smoothly.

Need Car Maintenance Services in Brandon, FL? No Problem!

Are coolant and antifreeze the same thing? In a word, no. Here at Lakeland Ford, we want to ensure your car is in good hands – even when it comes to the seemingly small stuff. So before topping off your radiator fluid with whatever’s handy, please stop by our dealership near Brandon, FL, and let us take a look. We will refill the correct type of coolant or antifreeze for your vehicle and help get you back on the road worry-free.

Schedule services today and browse our inventory of new and used cars while you’re here!


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