News You Can Use: The Difference Between Antifreeze & Car Coolant!

Like most drivers, you probably don't give much thought to the liquids that keep your car running smoothly. Suppose you're planning on doing DIY maintenance in winter or extreme summers. In that case, it's important to know the difference between antifreeze and car coolant. Both are essential for keeping your engine from freezing, but they serve different purposes. 


Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know about each.


Antifreeze is added to your car's cooling system to lower the freezing point of the water. This is important because water can expand and crack your engine block as it freezes. Antifreeze also raises the water's boiling point, which helps prevent overheating. 


On the other hand, car coolant is a mixture of water and antifreeze. It's used to transfer heat away from the engine and into the radiator, where it can be dissipated.



What Differentiates Antifreeze and Coolant?

Antifreeze enables the fluid to stay liquid at lower temperatures, which is important for maintaining the proper functioning of car engines and preventing ice from forming on roadways. Coolant is added to water or other fluid to raise its boiling point. 


Antifreeze, as the name suggests, helps to keep the engine coolant from freezing, while coolant helps to keep it from overheating. 


Antifreeze in an engine that requires coolant can cause the engine to overheat. Using coolant in an engine that requires antifreeze can cause the engine to freeze. 



What Are the Different Types of Coolant in the Market?

Coolants are integral to the proper functioning of many engines, and various types are available on the market. The coolant category usually comes prediluted for easier use & optimal mixes. Each type of coolant has its advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the right one for your needs. Here is a rundown of five different types of coolant, along with their key features:


Antifreeze Coolant: 

This is counted among the most common type of coolant. The majority of the vehicles run on this type of coolant. Antifreeze helps to keep engines from overheating in warm weather and freezing in cold weather. It's made from a mixture of water and either propylene or ethylene glycol. They are also known as glycerin and can be toxic. That is why handling coolant calls for expertise & precaution.


Water-based Coolant

As the name suggests, this coolant is primarily made from water. It's often used in racing and high-performance cars because it provides superior cooling capabilities. However, water-based coolants can also freeze in cold weather, so they're not suitable for all applications. The water used in these coolants is not just any kind of water. It is completely pure water and contains no chemicals, additives, or conducive minerals. 


Air-cooled Coolant

This type of coolant uses air instead of liquid to help keep an engine cool. Air-cooled coolants are typically used in motorcycles and small engines because they're less likely to overheat. However, they don't operate as well in larger engines that are developed inside an automobile’s chassis, so they're not as widespread as other types of coolants.


Ethylene Glycol Coolant

This is another type of antifreeze, but it's made from ethylene glycol instead of water. Ethylene glycol is more toxic than water, so it's not as safe to use in vehicles that may leak fluids. However, it has a lower freezing point than water, so it's often used in race cars and other high-performance vehicles that operate in extreme conditions.


Propylene Glycol Coolant

This is a newer type of antifreeze made from propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol is less toxic and safer to use in vehicles that may leak fluids. It also has a significantly higher boiling point than ethylene glycol, making it ideal for use in high-performance applications.



3 Signs that Indicate You’re Low on Coolant

If your car overheats, it could indicate that you're low on coolant. Here are three other signs to watch out for:


Your Temperature Gauge Is in The Red Zone

If your car's temperature gauge needle is creeping into the red zone, it's time to add more coolant. Please don't wait until it's in the danger zone, or you could damage your engine.


Your Car Is Steaming Up

If steam comes from the hood, it means your coolant level is too low, and your engine is overheating. Again, this can lead to serious engine damage, so don't delay topping off your coolant.


You Hear a Hissing Sound When You Start Your Car

If you hear a soft hissing when you start your engine, there's a leak in your cooling system. If you don't fix it soon, you'll continue to lose coolant and overheat your engine. If you don't have any idea on how to fix the leak, take your car to a mechanic immediately.


We have gone over a few signs that indicate your radiator is in bad shape and needs service! Ignoring any of these signs could lead to engine damage, so it's important to keep an eye on your coolant level & top it off if necessary.




It's important to choose the right coolant for your car. Consult a mechanic or refer to your car's owner manual if you don't know which coolant is best for your car. Using the wrong type of coolant can cause engine overheating and, eventually, permanent engine damage, so it's best to err on the side of caution. With a little care & maintenance, you can keep your car running smoothly for years.


Finding a reliable and affordable car service center near you shouldn't be a hassle. If you’re a resident of Florida, Sun Toyota, serving Carrollwood, FL, is your one-stop shop for all your car needs - whether you're in the market for a new vehicle or need a check-up on your current ride. All fluid level checks & corrections and coolant flush service are covered at our car service center. So next time you're in the market for a new car or need routine maintenance, remember Sun Toyota - we're here to help.

Key Takeaways:

  • Coolant and antifreeze are both liquids used to keep engines from overheating.
  • Antifreeze is typically made of water and glycol, while coolant can be made of water and other chemicals.
  • Different types of coolants are available in the market. You must identify the right one according to your climate and driving needs.
  • To avoid costly repairs, it's important to keep an eye on your coolant level and regularly check your cooling system with a mechanic.

Schedule your service now! 

September 2, 2022
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