Antifreeze & Engine Coolant: Radiator Fluid Basics for Riverview!


Your engine relies on radiator fluid to keep it cool or warm while you're driving. This vital liquid helps prevent your engine from overheating and keeps it running smoothly.


There are two main types of this super solution - antifreeze and engine coolant. This blog post will examine the differences between the two and help you decide which is best for your vehicle. Tune in for more facts about your engine's radiator!



As its name suggests, antifreeze is a radiator fluid that helps prevent your engine from freezing during cold weather. This solution is typically based on ethylene glycol, and it can also contain corrosion inhibitors and dyes.


Contrary to its name, however, antifreeze best serves your engine when working to keep it cool. It does this by maintaining the coolant's boiling point and preventing it from evaporating too quickly. Without antifreeze, your engine would overheat during hot weather.


Engine Coolant

Your car's coolant is a distilled water and antifreeze solution. This mixture helps keep your engine at an optimal operating temperature, regardless of the weather.


The engine coolant helps protect your radiator from freezing in cold weather and raises the boiling point to keep it cool in summer. Its freezing point is much lower than pure antifreeze, which freezes at -5 degrees Fahrenheit.


While this radiator fluid type includes water, keeping the antifreeze-to-water ratio within the manufacturer's specifications is essential. If there's too much water in the solution, it can boil before reaching its optimal temperature. This can lead to engine damage.


Which Fluid Is Best?

The answer to that question is to consider the climate you live in. If you reside in an area with freezing winters, you'll want to choose a radiator fluid with a low freezing point, so it doesn't freeze and cause your radiator to crack.


However, if you experience hot summers with mild winters, like in Riverview, FL, you might be better off choosing antifreeze. A solution of 50/50 coolant and water is an excellent middle-of-the-road radiator fluid for most climates.


Of course, you can always consult your vehicle's owner's manual to see what they recommend.



When To Change The Car Coolant?

Over time, this superb solution can become contaminated with rust, scale, and other deposits. It can also lose its ability to protect against corrosion and freezing. For these reasons, it's essential to change your radiator fluid according to the schedule in your owner's manual - typically every 30,000 miles or 2 years, whichever comes first.


If you neglect to change your radiator coolant, it can lead to expensive repairs down the road. Contaminated coolant is one of the leading causes of engine failure.


What Indicates A Coolant Change?

While we can't boil every indicator down to one specific thing, there are a few surefire signs that it's time to change your super solution.


No. 1: Leaks

Antifreeze is dyed a bright color - usually green, red, or orange - so leaks are easy to spot. If you see a puddle of radiator fluid under your car, that's a sure sign that you have a leak and need to take care of it immediately.


No. 2: Temperature

The temperature gauge on your dashboard is there for a reason. If it starts to slide into the red, your engine is overheating, or your radiator is struggling to keep it cool. This could be due to several factors, but one of the most common is low engine coolant levels.


No. 3: Grinding

If you're sure of a grinding noise from your engine, it could indicate that your super solution needs replacement. The coolant helps lubricate the water pump; if it's low, the pump can start grinding.


No. 4: Rust

As we mentioned, rust and other contaminants can find their way into your radiator. If you notice your super solution is rust-colored, it's time to take your car in for service. Neglecting radiator flushes can cause long-term damage to your engine.


No. 5: Odor

Radiator coolant has a sweet smell, like candy or maple syrup. If you notice this scent coming from your car, there's likely a radiator leak.



What Happens If Coolant Mixes with Oil?

In the unfortunate event that radiator coolant and oil mix, it looks like chocolate milk. This can happen if there's a crack in the radiator or a loose radiator cap. If you notice your oil looks like hot chocolate, take your car to a mechanic ASAP.


A coolant and oil mix can cause severe engine damage. Of course, you should never mix engine coolant with any other substance. This includes water (coolant is already mostly water), gasoline, or alcohol. Each of these can cause damage to your engine.


What Are the Causes of Oil Mixing with Coolant?

To fully rectify the antifreeze and oil mix, you must find out the root of the problem. Here are some possibilities:


A cracked head or blown gasket: If your super solution and oil are mixing, it's likely due to a crack in the head or a blown gasket. In this case, you'll need to take your car to a mechanic for radiator repair.


Oil cooler: Although not very common, an oil cooler leak can cause radiator fluid and oil to mix.


Overheating: A threat to all car parts, overheating can damage your head gasket and cause your super solution to break down and mix with oil.


Damaged engine block: While the engine block is resilient, it isn't invincible. If it sustains enough damage, coolant fluid and oil can mix. To resolve this issue, you might need to replace the whole engine.


Wrapping Up

Antifreeze and coolant differences are only a few of the radiator facts that Riverview, FL, drivers need to know. To learn more about radiator problems and solutions, visit this post on identifying bad radiators.


Brandon Honda, serving Riverview, FL, offers top-notch auto services for problematic auto parts. We have OEM parts & service specials in addition to a robust new Honda inventory.

It's always best to stay ahead of your Honda's needs by bringing it in for maintenance and keeping up with the trends. That way, not only will your car last longer, but it will save you a lot of money in the coming years.

Schedule a radiator check service with us today!

September 2, 2022
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