What Is The Difference Between Antifreeze vs. Coolant

There is some differences between antifreeze and coolant. But one thing is for sure, both of them have the ability to make sure that your engine is protected from either freezing in cold temperatures or overheating caused by extended use. In this article, we’re going to learn what really is the difference between antifreeze and coolant. And the million dollar question: can you actually mix the two together in your engine?

What Is The Difference Between Antifreeze vs. Coolant

Antifreeze vs Coolant: What’s The Difference?

Some say that coolant and antifreeze is the same thing. Well, they’re both right and wrong. Here’s why. Antifreeze is a commonly used component of a coolant mixture.

Coolant basically consists of one half antifreeze and one half water. Antifreeze is designed to lower the freezing point of the liquid that circulates around the engine of a vehicle. This also helps liquid from freezing in cold temperatures and also helps raise the boiling point of the liquid so it won’t evaporate.

The coolant will also work to ensure that the internal parts of the engine are lubricated so they can work properly and smoothly.

What Color Is Antifreeze?

There are two colors that are common with antifreeze: orange and green. It can also come in other colors as well. This can create a ton of confusion for someone who is in search of the right kind of antifreeze.

The orange colored antifreeze is specifically designed to be a form of “extended life” antifreeze. This means it will last a lot longer than its green counterpart. The main reason is due to a different type of corrosion inhibitor.

Choosing The Right Kind Of Coolant

There will always be a time when you’ll need to top off or do a complete flush of your engine system. Before you do any of that, it’s important to find the right kind of coolant. The first factor to consider is which type of coolant is best for your vehicle. The surprising thing to know is there is no one coolant available on the market that is perfect for every car. In fact, there are three main types of coolants that car manufacturers use. They are as follows: Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT), Organic Acid Technology (OAT), and Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT).

Older cars use IAT coolant. This type of coolant needs to be changed every two years or every 24,000 miles (whichever comes first), making it very inferior compared to the newer formulas. One of the newer formulas is OAT. Car manufacturers like General Motors use OAT coolants. Owners should change this type of coolant every five years or 50,000 miles. Finally, HOAT is derived from OAT. Like OAT, the change is the same (five years or 50,000 miles).

But, Is Antifreeze Really Coolant?

Even though antifreeze comes in two different colors, neither one of them is the same as coolant. They should not be mixed in with each other. Instead, antifreeze should be mixed with water in order to produce coolant. It should also be noted that antifreeze and water should not be poured in separately. Of course, that means you have to mix them together before pouring it into your vehicle’s engine system.

With the addition of water, it helps distinguishes the difference between antifreeze and coolant. Turning antifreeze into coolant ensures that it can perform both of its tasks of preventing freezing and overheating within a vehicle’s engine.

Can You Put Antifreeze In The Engine Coolant?

Once it’s mixed with water, you can pour antifreeze into the expansion tank. That is the same place where you pour in the engine coolant. It will filter around the engine and mix with your coolant. It will ensure that the liquid will not freeze. If you applied any type of solution that is designed to protect your engine from leaking, it should not be a problem to mix it with coolant and antifreeze. However, it may depend on the instructions. So, review those instructions carefully before applying any amount of coolant or antifreeze.

What If Your Car Is Losing Coolant?

One of the chief reasons why your car may be losing coolant can be due to an issue related to your car’s radiator. At the same time, it can also mean problems with the head gasket. If you experience such problems, you may need to take it to a mechanic. That way, the mechanic will diagnose any potential issues and make the necessary repairs, if needed.

Checking Your Antifreeze Or Coolant Levels

Knowing when to check your antifreeze or coolant levels is important. That’s why you’ll need to consult with the owner’s manual of your vehicle. The part that you’ll need to look for is the overflow reservoir. Your owner’s manual should point out the exact location of where it is in your vehicle.

Your mechanic may even top off your antifreeze or coolant while changing your oil as well. If you change your own oil or want to check the antifreeze or coolant levels yourself, knowing where the overflow reservoir is key. You’ll need to use a hydrometer to check on the condition of the coolant. The device will give you the minimum and maximum temperatures the antifreeze or coolant will work. You will also see the levels of both your antifreeze and coolant. These levels should meet certain guidelines that are outlined in your owner’s manual.

Disposal Safety

Antifreeze and coolant consist of chemicals known as ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. These are both dangerous chemicals. In fact, these chemicals are so dangerous, various states in the US have regulations and laws on how to properly dispose your antifreeze and coolant. You should never dump antifreeze or coolant down the drain or on the ground. Antifreeze can pollute rivers and streams. At the same time, it can also affect groundwater if it seeps through the soil. The proper way to dispose antifreeze is to place it inside a clear container and deliver it to the nearest recycling facility that can be able to dispose it properly.


Remember, if you hear that antifreeze and coolant is one in the same, know that it’s only half true. But each of them have a purpose to ensure that your engine is protected no matter what the conditions. You should also remember that the vehicle you have will need a certain type of antifreeze or coolant in order for your engine to run as smooth as possible.

Ronald Bounds

My name is Ronald D. Bounds, founder and editor in chief here at The Rider Base. We are enthusiastic about speed and travel. This website is built to share the information for rider. We help you to choose motorcycle accessories for yourself without much time.

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