Can You Mix Red and Orange Antifreeze

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Your car’s cooling system plays a vital role in keeping your vehicle running smoothly. The coolant, also known as antifreeze, is responsible for regulating your engine’s temperature, preventing it from overheating or freezing during extreme weather conditions. Coolants are typically a combination of water and glycol-based chemicals, and they can be found in various colors, such as green, red, or orange.

It’s essential to understand that coolant is not just plain water. In fact, water makes up more than 60% of the coolant mixture when added to the radiator. The remaining portion consists of rust inhibitors, corrosion inhibitors, and other additives that safeguard your engine from overheating and damage.

Different colors of coolants usually indicate various types of coolants, such as inorganic acid technology (IAG), organic acid technology (OAG), and hybrid organic acid technology (HOAT). In this article, we’ll explore the distinctions between these three coolant varieties and whether mixing different coolant colors is safe.

Different Types of Antifreeze

Green Coolant

Zerex Original Green Low Silicate 50/50 Prediluted Ready-to-Use Antifreeze/Coolant 1 GA

The green coolant is the most commonly used antifreeze in vehicles, which has a shorter lifespan than the orange coolant. On average, green coolant lasts for around three years or 36,000 miles. This type of coolant can be bright or dark green and gets its color from a blend of silicates and borates. Additionally, it is compatible with all rubber materials.

Orange Coolant

Zerex DEX-COOL Organic Acid Technology 50/50 Prediluted Ready-to-Use Antifreeze/Coolant 1 GA

Orange coolant is often a product named Dexcool which GM manufactures. It was first used in the 1996 Corvette and became available for other GM vehicles. 

Orange coolant is a newer type 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 can cause problems if combined with other coolant colors.

Less Common Types

PEAK OET Extended Life Red/Pink Concentrate Antifreeze/Coolant for Asian Vehicles, 1 Gal.

  • Red or pink coolant is typically used in European vehicles, 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 and 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.

Also Read: How to Tell if Your Coolant Temp Sensor Is Bad

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 high and low temperatures. It is most commonly used in older vehicles and has a green color. It should be changed every two years or 30,000 miles.

2. Organic Acid Technology (OAT)

Most modern automobiles do not have silicates or phosphates but contain azoles and neutralized organic acids (corrosion inhibitors). Provides superior aluminum protection at high temperatures. This newer type of coolant uses organic acids (such as esters) as the main ingredient. 

It’s also popular because it has a long life and is effective at high and low temperatures. It is most commonly used in newer vehicles and has an orange or even a dark green color. It should be changed every five 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 five years.

Antifreeze in various colors on store shelves

Can You Mix Red and Orange Antifreeze?

The simple and short answer is that you cannot mix red and orange coolant. The main reason for that is because of the different chemical compositions. They will not mix well or 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 must mix coolants, 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 essential 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. 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.

Conclusion

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.

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