Can I put any type of coolant in my car?

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September 18th, 2015

Years ago, when full service gas stations were common place, the attendant had only one option for topping up coolant in your car, it was green. Today we have multiple choices of coolant, each which their own specific concoction to improve the cooling system of your car.

In order to answer the question, let’s discus coolant and how it works. Coolant in its base form is Ethylene Glycol. Now most people will be surprised to hear that coolant plays almost no role in the actual cooling of your engine. Engine cooling is done by the 50/50 mixture of distilled water in the radiator. The Job of the coolant is simply to inhibit rust and lower the freezing temperature of the water.

The need for different types of coolant came about when manufacturers started using more exotic metals for their engine blocks, heads and gaskets. Some metals require more rust inhibitors than others, while some require the ability to dissipitate heat faster than others. The type of coolant your car requires is simply based on the types of metals in your engine.

So what coolant should I use?  You are asking.  Well, you use the coolant that is specified in your owner’s manual. If you just need to top it up, the recommendation is still the same, however it is unlikely to cause any serious problems if you add a litre of a different type of coolant, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. If you find that you are contstantly topping up your system, have it inspected and repaired by a qualified service person, and refill the system with the correct type of coolant.

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