Straight Antifreeze vs. Antifreeze Solutions

April 25, 2018 10:06 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’re not extremely familiar with cars and standard auto maintenance tasks, you might not know exactly how to go about adding antifreeze to your vehicle. In fact, we receive a lot of questions from our customers about antifreeze, as it’s one of those tasks that’s pretty easy to perform yourself.

The most common question about antifreeze that we receive at our auto repair shop in Madison, TN is, “Why can’t I just pour straight antifreeze into the cooling system?” It’s an understandable question if you don’t know much about cars—pouring in straight antifreeze would save you the time of having to mix the proper proportions. Generally a 50/50 mix is recommended, but others say a 70/30 mix of antifreeze and water should be okay.

There are a few mechanics who will say using straight antifreeze is just fine, but other vehicle experts will say pure antifreeze could cause some significant damage to your vehicle.

We agree with the latter opinion—you should never use pure antifreeze in your vehicle. Here are a few reasons why.

It could freeze inside your vehicle

The name “antifreeze” might trick you into thinking the coolant cannot freeze at all. But in actuality, pure antifreeze, which is ethylene glycol, will freeze between zero and minus five degrees Fahrenheit. Only by mixing antifreeze with water can you lower that freezing point.

Therefore, if you live in an area that gets especially cold and need to protect your vehicle below that zero-degree mark, it is absolutely imperative that you mix the antifreeze with water to the degree specified either in your vehicle’s manual or in the instructions for the antifreeze. Follow these instructions to the letter to avoid causing some major damage to your vehicle.

A lack of heat transfer capabilities

Pure antifreeze does not have the same ability to transfer heat that a mixture of antifreeze and water does. Using pure antifreeze inside your vehicle’s cooling system causes that system to lose about 35 percent of its ability to transfer heat versus a proper mixture of antifreeze and water.

This will not hurt you too much in winter, but in summertime driving, it is extremely important that your coolant be able to absorb that heat and push it away from the engine as quickly as possible. Otherwise, your engine could overheat and cause your vehicle to break down. For this reason, you should not run your vehicle on pure antifreeze.

A lack of additive suspension

Mixing water with your antifreeze coolant keeps additives such as nitrates, phosphates and silicates suspended. Otherwise, they will settle inside the system, which could cause you to lose the protection against corrosion that these additives provide.

This is also one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to shake the antifreeze up before adding it into your cooling system—it gets the additives suspended in the container before you even begin dispensing it.

For more information about the proper use of antifreeze, contact an auto repair shop in Madison, TN.

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