Most manufacturers propose a 50/50 antifreeze concentrate/water mixture. Mixtures containing an excessive amount of water may not provide effective boil-over or freeze protection. Mixtures containing an excessive amount of antifreeze concentrate may result in overheating. For best results, follow the recommendations for your vehicle's type of antifreeze solution.
Here are some more answers to common questions about coolants:
Over time, any metal particles that come into contact with the coolant enter the engine and can cause damage. The heat from the engine causes these metals to oxidize and create debris that will clog up the openings in the cooling system and prevent adequate flow of coolant. This in turn can lead to higher temperatures within the engine which increases the risk of mechanical failure.
There are several ways to check your car's cooling system. If you see any debris inside the radiator, then you should drain the fluid and have it inspected by a professional automotive repair shop. However, if you don't see anything out of place, you can still use some common sense to determine if the system needs cleaned.
It's simple to top off your coolant. If you are not using pre-mixed coolant, mix the right antifreeze with distilled water according to the manufacturer's instructions—50-50 is a normal ratio, with 70-30 for exceptionally cold areas. Never add alcohol to your vehicle's cooling system. It can cause damage to your engine.
Once you have topped off your coolant, make sure to replace it after every oil change or when recommended by your car's manual, which should be once every 3 months for most vehicles. Coolant helps keep your engine clean by preventing debris and other objects from being thrown into your combustion chamber when you accelerate or turn your steering wheel sharply. Without coolant, all that heat would destroy much of the value of your vehicle.
If you drive in hot climates, it is important to keep your cooling system clear of any obstructions so that cool air can flow through freely. Hot asphalt on your driveway or street can block cool air from getting to your radiator, causing your engine to overheat. Use a soft brush or shovel to clear away any debris that might prevent cool air from reaching your radiator.
Also check your hoses for tightness every time you wash your car. The pressure from hot water can cause hoses to deteriorate quickly if they aren't replaced regularly. Hoses can be purchased at a auto parts store for around $100-$200 each.
Antifreeze, when combined in equal parts with water (50/50), reduces the freezing point to -35 degrees Fahrenheit and raises the boiling temperature to 223 degrees Fahrenheit. Corrosion inhibitors are frequently used in antifreeze to protect the engine and cooling system from rust and corrosion. Alcohol is the main ingredient in most auto antifreezes, but other chemicals are also used to inhibit corrosion and extend the life of automotive components.
When ice melts, it can contain impurities that may be harmful if consumed. These include ammonia, which is toxic if ingested; phosphorous, which can cause serious health problems if it enters the body through the digestive system; and metals such as lead and zinc, which are poisonous at any level of exposure. Antifreeze contains additives to prevent these substances from leaving the mixture upon melting. However, if an accident causes part of the fluid to be released into the environment, then children could potentially consume it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against consuming anything containing antifreeze due to the risk of poisoning for infants, toddlers, and adults alike.
The best course of action if you find yourself faced with antifreeze is to call 911 immediately. Police and fire crews will need access to all areas of your vehicle to check for others who might need help and to make sure that no one was hurt in the crash. They will also take care of any animals in the area that might have been exposed to the substance.
When distilled water is combined with 50% antifreeze, the volume of distilled water is practically decreased in half. It will not degrade metals in a cooling system by combining with glycol. As a result, it is safe to utilize distilled water in a 50/50 mixture. Distilled water can also be used in completely frozen systems. However, if any ice has formed, then the water has absorbed impurities that would otherwise cause problems for plumbing components.
The use of distilled water is recommended by most cooling system manufacturers because it reduces the risk of corrosion within the metal parts of your vehicle's engine. Corrosion is the term used to describe the destructive effect that water has on metals. Allowed to continue, it can lead to the weakening of structural members and other hazards such as leaking fluids or damaged hoses.
Ideally, you should not mix water into your antifreeze. Use diluted antifreeze to top it off if necessary. Distilled water is OK, but regular tap water or bottled water should only be used in a pinch, and if you use that stuff, you should clean your radiator before it wears out. Mixing fluids will cause both fluids to lose value over time.
If you do decide to mix the fluids, don't add more than 5% water to antifreeze. If you put too much water in, it'll just make the mixture less efficient at removing heat. Also, avoid mixing different brands of antifreeze because they have different densities and may settle during storage.
Generally, radiators work best when they're half full of fluid. Adding more than this doesn't increase cooling performance but it does increase the risk of flooding. Flooding can cause damage to both the radiator and the engine, so take care not to pour too much fluid into it.
Mixing water with oil won't affect the water-based part of the formula, but it does mean you need to change the filter regularly. For example, if you mix 20% water with 80% motor oil, then drain and replace the oil every 3,000 miles. This is because the water will break down the metal particles in the oil, causing it to cloud up and need replacing sooner.