Antifreeze not only helps to prevent your car’s engine from overheating but also keeps it from freezing up in cold weather. It works using the laws of thermodynamics heat and helps to keep your engine at a consistent temperature. If you mix different types of antifreeze, it can result in decreased performance and even engine damage. Learn what happens if you mix antifreeze types.
According to most carmakers, mixing different types of antifreeze is generally not a good idea. Different brands of antifreeze can have different chemical compositions, which can lead to compatibility issues if they are mixed together. Incompatible antifreeze can cause corrosion and deposits that can clog your car’s cooling system and cause engine problems.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of antifreeze and the dangers of mixing them so, that next time you need to top off your cooling system, you can make an informed decision.
Different Types of Antifreeze
The following are the most common types of antifreeze:
Also known as conventional coolant, this type of antifreeze is made with ethylene glycol and features a greenish color. It’s been around the longest and is compatible with most cooling systems. It used to be the most popular type, but it has since been replaced by more environmentally friendly options.
In older cars, green coolant was used most of the time since these vehicles had steel and copper in their cooling system. Green coolant was applied in these old cars to protect the car from corrosion and rust and follows Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT).
Made with propylene glycol, orange antifreeze is less toxic than green antifreeze and doesn’t pose as great of a risk to children or pets if ingested. Orange antifreeze also doesn’t break down as quickly, so it can last longer than green antifreeze.
However, orange antifreeze is more expensive than green antifreeze and is not compatible with all vehicle’s cooling systems. Orange coolant is often a product named Dexcool. GM manufactured Dexcool and promised that you’d only need to flush your system every 150,000-miles if you used it. This is a much longer service life than regular anti-freeze, so you can see why its popularity surged.
Less Common Types
Here are some other, less common types of antifreeze:
1. Pink Antifreeze
Normally used in European vehicles, pink antifreeze is made with a glycol-based formula and follows Organic Acid Technology (OAT), but is made mostly with new car models in mind. Some car owners prefer to use this type of coolant because it’s less harmful to the environment. It’s an expensive kind of coolant that is utilized to protect a vehicle engine from corrosion and rust.
2. Blue Antifreeze
This type of antifreeze is less common and is typically used in heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks and buses. It’s made with a glycol-based formula and is designed for long-lasting engine protection.
3. Yellow Antifreeze
More often used in race cars, yellow antifreeze is made with a glycol-based formula and also uses OAT. It’s designed for maximum engine protection and to prevent overheating.
4. Gold Antifreeze
Last but not least, gold antifreeze is made with an organic acid technology (OAT) and can last up to 5 years or 150,000 miles without being replaced containing a larger percentage of corrosion inhibitors. It’s a more expensive option, but many carmakers are now recommending it for new vehicles.
What Happens if You Mix Different Types of Antifreeze?
Upon mixing different types of antifreeze, a chemical reaction takes place that can cause corrosion and deposits. The different ingredients in each type of antifreeze can react with one another, which can lead to clogging and other problems in your car’s cooling system. Incompatible antifreeze can also cause your engine to overheat.
What Happens If You Mix Green and Orange Coolant?
Green coolant is made with ethylene glycol while orange coolant is made with propylene glycol. If you mix these two types of coolant, the resulting mixture will not be as effective at protecting your engine and cooling system. The chemical reaction between the two types of coolant can also cause deposits to form, which can clog your cooling system.
What To Do In Urgent Circumstances?
Should you be in a pinch though and need to mix two types of coolant, the best thing to do would be to add distilled water to the mixture. This will help to dilute the chemical reaction and hopefully prevent any major problems from arising.
Long story short, it’s generally not a good idea to mix different types of antifreeze. Different types of coolant are designed for different purposes and mixing them can cause serious problems for your car. If you need to add coolant to your car, be sure to use the same type that is already in the system.
Distilled water can be used in a pinch, but it’s always best to use the same type of coolant that is recommended for your car. If you’re not sure what type of coolant is in your car, you can always consult your owner’s manual or take it to a qualified mechanic.
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