Your car’s cooling system is vital to its overall health and performance. The coolant, or antifreeze, helps to keep your engine at the right temperature, preventing it from overheating or freezing during harsh winters. Most coolants are a mixture of water and glycol-based chemicals, and they come in a variety of colors, including green, red, and orange.
It is important to remember that coolant is not just water. In fact, water makes up more than 60% of most your coolant mixture when added to the radiator. The rest of it is made up of rust inhibitors, corrosion inhibitors, and other additives designed to protect your engine from overheating and damage.
Different colors generally indicate different types of coolant. There are three main types of coolant: inorganic acid technology (IAG), organic acid technology (OAG), and hybrid organic acid technology (HOAT). In this article, we will discuss the differences between these three types of coolant and whether or not it is safe to mix different colors of coolant.
Different Types of Antifreeze
Green coolant is by far the most common type of anti-freeze in vehicles and doesn’t last as long as orange coolant. The average lifespan of green coolant is about three years or 36,000 miles.
Sometimes found to be bright or dark green, this coolant gets its color from a mixture of silicates and borates. It is also found to be compatible with all rubber materials.
Orange coolant is often a product named Dexcool which was manufactured by GM. It was first used in the 1996 Corvette and then became available for other GM vehicles.
Orange coolant is a newer type of coolant that can last up to five years or 150,000 miles. It doesn’t mix well with other colors of coolant. It’s designed to last longer than traditional green coolants, but it can cause problems if mixed with other colors of coolant.
Less Common Types
- Red or pink coolant is typically used in European vehicles where it’s known as “silicate-free coolant.” This type of coolant can last up to six years or 200,000 miles.
- Yellow coolant is typically used in Asian vehicles where it is known as “long-life coolant.” It lasts up to eight years or 320,000 miles.
- Blue coolant is typically used in race cars or performance vehicles where it helps to keep the engine cool.
3 Main Types of Coolant
The following are some of the main types of coolant that are available on the market today:
1. Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT)
Typically utilized in older automobiles until the mid-nineties in the United States, it has phosphates (corrosion preventers) and silicates As it sounds, this type of coolant uses inorganic acids (such as phosphates) as the main ingredient.
It’s popular because it has a long life and is effective at both high and low temperatures. It is most commonly used in older vehicles and has a green color. Should be changed every 2 years or 30,000 miles.
2. Organic Acid Technology (OAT)
Most modern automobiles do not have silicates or phosphates, but they do contain azoles and neutralized organic acids (corrosion inhibitors). Provides superior aluminum protection at high temperatures. This is a newer type of coolant that uses organic acids (such as esters) as the main ingredient.
It’s also popular because it has a long life and is effective at both high and low temperatures. It is most commonly used in newer vehicles and has an orange or even a dark green color. Should be changed every 5 years or 100,000 miles.
3. Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT)
More often than is a blend of OAT and IAT. Uses both organic acids (such as esters) and inorganic acids (such as phosphates) as the main ingredients. A more recent development, HOAT is often orange or yellow.
It’s a unique formulation that’s made specifically for new cars and includes additions to enhance aluminum corrosion resistance and prevent rust. Like OAT coolant, HOATs have a lifespan of 150,000 miles or 5 years.
Can You Mix Red and Orange Antifreeze?
The simple and short answer to this is that you absolutely cannot mix red and orange coolant. The main reason for that because of the different chemical composition they will not mix well or will end up reacting and causing damage to your engine.
It is always best practice to use the same type of coolant that is already in your system to top it off, or do a complete flush and fill with the same type. If you absolutely must mix coolants, make sure to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if it is even safe to do so.
What Happens if You Mix Different Types of Antifreeze?
Mixing different colors of coolant antifreeze can cause problems with your engine. The different chemicals in each type of coolant can interact and cause corrosion or deposits. This can lead to overheating, leaks, and other problems. It’s important to consult your owner’s manual or a professional mechanic before mixing them.
What Colors of Antifreeze Can Be Mixed?
Only the same types of coolant should be mixed together. Even then, it is best to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if it is safe to do so. Despite the colors being the same, the chemicals in each type of coolant can still interact and cause problems.
So, can you mix red and orange antifreeze? The answer is no, you cannot mix different colors of coolant. The different chemicals in each type of coolant can interact and cause corrosion or deposits. This can lead to overheating, leaks, and other problems. It’s important to consult your owner’s manual or a professional mechanic before mixing them. Only the same types of coolant should be mixed together.
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