Buying the right coolant / antifreeze for your car can be trickier than you think. There are actually three different types to choose from, and they are each created in different ways. When you are purchasing coolant for your car, it important to consider how often you flush out the coolant, what types of additives you like in your formula, and what will help you protect the metal in your cooling system while stopping corrosion. Here are some tips for choosing the right coolant, and some coolant reviews to help you find the right coolant/antifreeze for you.
Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT)
Used from the 1920’s to the late 1990’s, IAT coolant is used most often in United States-manufactured cars. It is a clear coolant that is dyed green so consumers can identify what it is. It contains phosphate corrosion inhibitors and silicates that safeguard the metal parts in your cooling system. You should flush out IAT coolants from your car’s system once every couple of years or 30,000 miles. IAT coolants are still used in older cars made before the mid-1990s.
Organic Acid Technology (OAT)
An OAT coolant comes in a couple of different dyed colors ranging from dark green to orange. OAT is different from IAT as it does not include phosphate corrosion inhibitors or silicates to safeguard your car. When you have corrosion inhibitors in an organic acid, it will help to make the coolant last longer; however, it will make the metal parts wear down over time. Certain manufactures will add specific additives to OAT coolant that will stop corrosion and rust. OAT coolants need to be flushed from your car every five year or 150,000 miles. This coolant is normally used on newer cars, and you should check with the car’s manufactures before using it to make sure it is safe and effective for your vehicle.
Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT)
HOAT coolants include silicates that help to protect aluminum, and prevent corrosion. HOAT coolants can be purchased in several different colors including orange and yellow. They do contain silicates that have corrosion inhibitors, plus additives that stop corrosion and rusting. HOAT coolant needs to be flushed out every five years or every 150,000 miles.
It is common for car manufacturers to pick one type of coolant, and then use it for all the vehicles in their line. This is helpful in finding the right coolant to use for your car by just looking up the car manufacturer.
Coolants also come in different colors which can be confusing to some drivers. It can make it easier for drivers to know that your car either takes the green kind, or the red kind, without having to do too much research. There are still a few basics that every driver should know about coolants.
Don’t Mix the Colors and the Types
The type of color coolant you currently have in your car is the one you should stick with. Older cars use a standard neon green coolant that has special additives in it that stop steel parts from corroding. Other coolants will stop corrosion on aluminum, and other alloys. If they do get mixed, it won’t cause immediate issues, but your cooling system may stop cooling well, and it is possible that the flow will be restricted.
Follow the Ratio
Make sure you know if you are using already mixed or concentrated coolants. Using coolant that is too week or too strong can cause your engine to cool poorly causing issues down the road.
Water is Better Than Nothing
In an emergency, using water is better than not using anything. If you run low on coolant, add some water to your system so that you can get to a place where you can get more coolant.
Zerex Original Formula Green Coolant 4.5 stars 1 gallon $15
Prestone Dex-Cool 5 stars 1 gallon $15
Ford Motorcraft Gold Coolant/Antifreeze 5 stars 1 gallon $25
Prestone AF2100 Extended Life 50/50 Antifreeze 4.5 stars 1 gallon $8
Honda Type 2 Antifreeze Coolant 5 stars 1 gallon $22
STP 11087 DEX Antifreeze/Coolant Concentrate 4.5 stars 1 gallon $19.63
MaxLife 719009 Antifreeze 5 stars 1 Gallon $15.65
Engine Ice TYDS008 High Performance Coolant 4.5 stars 0.5 Gallon $19.63
Star brite Star-Cool Premium Synthetic PG Engine Coolant 5 stars 1 gal $33.41
Zerex Original Formula Green Coolant
The Zerex Original Formula Green Coolant is a basic green coolant that works well for cars that were made in the early to mid-1990’s, before manufacturers started to shift over to coolants that use different corrosion inhibitors. Zerex is known in the industry as one of the more trustworthy brands for aftermarket coolants. Zerex gives you protection down to 34 degree Fahrenheit. It also helps to inhibit rust and corrosion, and includes a patented acid corrosion inhibitor package that is organic, and gives your engine extended protections. Zerex is ready to use straight from the bottle, and mixes great with de-mineralized water that will reduce deposits developing in your cooling system.
Prestone Dex-Cool Extended Life Antifreeze/Coolant (50/50) should be used with all vehicles that require Dex-Cool coolant. It’s important to use the blend recommended by the factory of 50 percent antifreeze concentrate for protection from corrosion and temperature, and 50 percent water for important heat transfer. This concentrated blend is a patented formula that includes superior long-lasting inhibitors that provides increased performance, protections against extreme temperatures, and the effects of corrosion and rust. There has been a need for different corrosion preventing additives with the increased popularity of aluminum engine block and cylinder heads. Dex-Cool is the answer to this problem in America, and is recommended and formulated for any vehicles that require Dex-Cool coolant, and any car or light-duty truck with aluminum radiators that require extended life coolant. Dex-Cool is good for five years of 150,000 miles.
Ford Motorcraft Gold Coolant/Antifreeze
Ford Motorcraft Gold Coolant/Antifreeze is great for utility and all-terrain vehicles, street-sport, street-cruiser, street-touring, and off-road motorcycles, plus snowmobiles, street motor scooters and personal marine crafst. Ford Motorcraft Gold Coolant/Antifreeze is a gold-colored ethylene glycol coolant that was created when Ford transitioned out of the green propylene glycol in the early 2000’s. Once the green propylene glycol is flushed out properly, then the Ford Motorcraft Gold Coolant/Antifreeze can be used.
Prestone AF2100 Extended Life 50/50 Antifreeze
Prestone AF2100 Extended Life 50/50 Antifreeze is a great coolant for short term solutions. It is compatible with all types of coolants, making it a suitable choice when you do need to mix your coolants in an emergency, or if you will be flushing out your system anyway because of a major coolant system repair in the near future. Prestone AF2100 helps stop corrosion, and keeps your cooling system running efficiently. It also protects against temperature extremes, and inhibits rust corrosion on all cooling system metals, except for aluminum.
Honda Type 2 Antifreeze Coolant
Honda Type 2 Antifreeze Coolant is perfect for all Honda models. Honda is one of the few manufacturers that created its own coolant that works best for its engines. Honda Type 2 is perfect for Hondas that have always been running on factory coolant, although some older Honda owners may still use a different ethylene glycol coolant. Honda Type 2 is a long lasting aluminum component protection, and has been developed to protect against rust and corrosion on all cooling system components. It will protect all Honda vehicles for five years or 60,000 miles, and requires no added corrosion inhibitors.
STP 11087 DEX Antifreeze/Coolant Concentrate
STP 11087 DEX Antifreeze/Coolant Concentrate is an ethylene glycol coolant that has a patented life extending carboxylate inhibitor system. STP is a well-known brand for lubricants, and performance products since 1954. The STP 11087 is a superior life-extending engine coolant that is free from nitrites, silicates, borates, and amines. It safeguards all cooling system metals that include aluminum, plus gaskets, rubber hoses, and plastics. STP 11087 is created to safeguard against extreme weather conditions, and will prevent corrosion of copper, brass, solder, cast iron, steel, and aluminum, plus stops pitting that is caused by cavitation. STP 11087 is compatible with almost all organize acid antifreeze/coolants formulas that meet the Dex-Cool requirements. It is available in a concentrate or in a ready-to-use form.
MaxLife 719009 Antifreeze
MaxLife 719009 Antifreeze was created to work well with any type of car or light duty truck. MaxLife Antifreeze is the only antifreeze available with the Alugard Plus that is a specific additive that lets different chemistries work together, and gives protections from corrosion and rust. MaxLife 719009 has a long life formula that lubricates gaskets and seals, and helps protect your vehicle in extreme weather conditions. MaxLife 719009 is the leading antifreeze for all makes and models that use an OAT chemistry. This is not compatible with vehicles that use an IAT or HOAT chemistry.
STP 11073-3PACK ALL Global ELC Anti-Freeze/Coolant Concentrate for All Makes and Models
Another product from STP is the STP 11073-3PACK ALL Global ELC Anti-Freeze/Coolant. The STP 11073 is a superior ethylene glycol that is free of nitrites, silicates, borates, and amines. It protects your vehicles from extreme weather conditions, and is recommended for all foreign and domestic cars and light duty trucks. It will protect rubber hoses, plastics and gaskets, and all metal in your cooling system including aluminum. STP 11073 has an extended service life of up to five years or 150,000 miles. It is available in concentrate or ready-to-use formulas, and is compatible with any antifreeze/coolant, regardless of its color.
Engine Ice TYDS008 High Performance Coolant
Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant is a non-toxic, phosphate free, and biodegradable coolant that will lower race temperature, and keep the boil over temperature to 256° Fahrenheit or less, and the freeze-up protection to -26° Fahrenheit. Engine Ice is ideal for street or racing, cars or motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATV’s, and is legal in CCS and ASRA road racing. It is allowed at several tracks around the world, and is created to keep your temperatures at an optimum performance level, so they do not lose their power through too much heat. Engine Ice uses propylene glycol which is used to prevent water pump gasket and seal failures. It also lowers operating temperatures in high stress conditions, and is safe for most metals, including aluminum.
Star brite Star-Cool Premium Synthetic PG Engine Coolant
The Star brite Star-Cool Premium Synthetic PG Engine Coolant is one of the world’s leading creators of coolant additives that are formulated to outperform regular coolants. Star-Cool mixes a propylene glycol base with a special poly organic additive that makes the most advanced engine coolant. It is a great value, and has superior extended service life. Star-Cool lowers operating temperatures much faster than other coolants, and meets or exceeds all OEM and appropriate ASTM specs. It has a PCT additive package that upholds engine temperatures that develop maximum horsepower. It is also formulated to close pinhole leaks and fissures.
The Best Overall Coolant/Antifreeze is the STP 11073-3PACK ALL Global ELC Anti-Freeze/Coolant Concentrate for All Makes and Models. Since most coolants are used for a specific type of car, this is a great product since it can be used for any type of car or light-duty truck. It is free of nitrites, silicates, borates, and amines, plus it will protect your car during extreme weather conditions. You can purchase it in either concentrated or ready-to-use bottles, and it last up to five years or 150,000 miles. The Best Bang for Your Buck is definitely the STP 11073-3PACK ALL Global ELC Anti-Freeze/Coolant Concentrate.