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Technical Please school me on antifreeze.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kiwijeff, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. Its all new to me.
    I've always used straight water, because where I live by the sea, it doesn't snow, and in Winter, while puddles will freeze on the coldest Winter days, older cars were OK.
    When I rebuilt my Hudson, its six has an aluminum head, and a buddy filled my cooling system with what he said was the best you could get. Its blue, and that's all I know about it. :D
    He's a digger and heavy machine salesman, so I filled system, and run it for nearly 3 years.
    So, how often should I change it, and does it matter if I topped it up with a different brand?
    Any other relevant things I should know?
    My English 4x4 has an alloy V8 that also uses it, so I guess I'm stuck with having to use the stuff.
     
  2. Torana68
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,071

    Torana68
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Australia

    an education your after ? Google will tell you if you knew what it was, find out and then find when it should be changed. Big expensive engine cooling water is checked and adjusted to keep within guidelines, car stuff is just drained , flushed and refilled according to the makers specs. Leave some too long and it will eat stuff, even rubber hoses, it can also go into a lumpy mess you'll spend a long time trying to get out of the engine.
     
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  3. Cool, thanks for the reply Torana68.
    I did do a search here, and there's lot of thread that mention antifreeze, but figured it would be cool to get all info in one thread.
    Like I said, up until I started using engines with alloy in em, I've always used straight H2O.
    I know antifreeze ain't traditional, haha, it hasn't been around for ever, and I know its not good to use water in alloy engines.
    I want details. ;)
     
  4. I also see in my search here, lots of talk about mixing antifreeze with water.
    Why?
     
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  5. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 12,174

    Stogy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I believe it has to do with controlling the effective range of your cooling system. To much antifreeze makes the engine temperature not able to reach optimum operation levels. Yeah it won't freeze but your car won't run very well either. Don't take this as gospel but I think it is something along those lines.
     
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  6. Torana68
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,071

    Torana68
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Australia

    antifreeze has been around a long time (1918?) but these days its formulated to stop corrosion between dissimilar metals in your engine (and called coolant where I am, dunno what it is in other places). I don't know if you can buy "anti freeze" easily as its normally concentrated coolant you mix with water to get the result your after. Don't buy cheap coolant......
    edit I use rain water in the daily but anything good gets coolant, rain water should have less crap in it
     
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  7. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 12,174

    Stogy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Below is some info from a site talking about straight versus not. Coolant works better with water and of course there are many chemicals in there to I believe protect your components. It is also best to consult with a manual on the vehicle to determine proper ratio and be aware if not using premixed use correct water which may be distilled or soft. The other thing to note is this stuff is lethal to animals so if you drop some on the ground clean ut up Pronto...

    The freezing point of 100% ethylene glycol is about 8 degrees farenheit, which is certainly better than H2O, but may not be adequate for someone in Il. Of course Jon is correct in saying that straight AF does not cool as well as a lesser %.
    Most interesting. Mixtures of water and antifreeze test out at below zero which would lend credence to the notion that a mix of antifreeze and water is a better coolant than straight antifreeze.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
    loudbang likes this.
  8. When skimming through the search, I thought I read something about it only being around since the eighties, so I obliviously didn't read that correctly.
    I did know that it is to stop corrosion between dissimilar metals.
    I guess part of these questions is due to the fact, that now I got to pay for my cooling system, where as in my Past 35 years of driving many vehicles, I've been able to use water, and where I live, the stuff comes outer the sky, in great abundance.
    In other words, it was free, and now I Gotter pay. Haha.
     
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  9. Torana68
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,071

    Torana68
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Australia

    Anti freeze is for freezing coolant is for freezing, corrosion and some claim better cooling. If the car dumps its coolant regularly use water (ie dodgy head gasket or various leaks) I try not to waste $$ on coolant if the car just eats it. Winter time I just cover the radiator core and watch the temp gauge.
     
    kiwijeff likes this.
  10. Another thing, is I can go ask my digger salesman buddy about it, he's pretty knowledgeable, but with him, its his way only, where as here, I can get many variations and opinions.
    Then I go through and figure out common opinions from differing ones, to make up my own mind.
     
  11. Stogy
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 12,174

    Stogy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The other very important thing about it is having a relatively inexpensive gauge to check you protection level against freezing which seems to be a non issue where you are so the ratio may be different. As said if you have a defective system (stuff leaking, etc.) coolant loss happens possibly affected things not to mention having to more closely monitor things with a potential breakdown a possibility. Depending on climate of course you could forfeit costly AF as said due to constant loss.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
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  12. Torana68
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,071

    Torana68
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Australia

    everyone on here has an opinion :)
     
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  13. So I guess if my coolant is getting a little low, rather than top up with any different brand, I'm best to dump it, and refill with a good quality brand.
    Do I flush out old coolant with water?
     
  14. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,959

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    In your case you don't need the anti freeze property but you do need corrosion protection. Aluminum corrodes easily when in contact with cooling water that is also in contact with iron or steel.

    Antifreeze is formulated to prevent this corrosion. At one time the anti corrosive additives wore out and the anifreeze had to be changed every 2 or 3 years. Since the 1980s it doesn't seem to wear out and you can use the same antifreeze for years. I have worked on poorly maintained cars that were 20 years old and the inside of the cooling system was clean and free of corrosion, something you never would have seen in the seventies.

    For best results run a closed cooling system with a container that automatically returns coolant to the radiator. Use a good brand of coolant and change it according to the manufacturer's recommendation. Antifreeze should be mixed 50/50 with water, or according to manufacturer's recommendation. You have to be careful, you can buy full strength antifreeze or premixed. The full strength stuff is the better buy. With the premix you are paying for a lot of water.

    You are not supposed to mix the orange and green coolant but I never heard of blue. Just top it up with the same brand or color and you should be fine.
     
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  15. midroad
    Joined: Mar 8, 2013
    Posts: 260

    midroad
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    In Australia we rarely need antifreeze. Any good quality coolant will do. It comes in green, red and blue these days. If you don't want coolant (it is actually not the best for cooling) try distilled water and corrosion inhibitor. I've used Castrol with good results. There is also a product called Evans waterless that is supposed to last forever as long as your cooling system doesn't leak.
     
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  16. Thanks guys.
    I'm running blue stuff, and my buddy who gave it to me has a large drum half full of it.
    I assumed it was for heavy machinery, due to his job, and he said it was the best you can get.
    I'll ask him tomorrow about it, and get the brand name.
    My Hudson does not leak, but in the last 3 years, its gone down about an inch in level, so it must have gone somewhere. :D

    I like the old days, where you took a hose, turned the tap on, and flushed the system when the water had turned brown after a time.
    Then you hooked the bottom hose back up, topped up with water, until next time it needed cleaning.
    I guess this sounds funny to those in colder places, that have used antifreeze/coolant for years, but its all new to me.;):cool:
     
  17. As far as protecting your cooling system that harbors dissimilar metals,visit your local boat shop and purchase a SACRIFICIAL ANODE.The different chemicals in the cooling system will attach themselves to the sacrificial anode and NOT to your aluminum products keeping your heads clean.Fix the anode on a wire so you can "fish it out" and clean the "barnacles" off it and replace it in radiator.It DOESN'T(the anode) last forever and will need replacing from time to time,but it has helped my aluminum heads on my flatheads from developing soft or mushy spots.
     
  18. G-son
    Joined: Dec 19, 2012
    Posts: 517

    G-son
    Member
    from Sweden

    Water is superior as a coolant, since it takes the largest amount of energy to heat it one degree of any "usable" liquid. I.e, you need to pump less water through the engine to remove a certain amount of (heat) energy without increasing the temperature of the fluid too much, than if you would use oil, pure alcohol or something else like that.

    The downside of water is that it causes corrosion and freezes. To prevent that you add antifreeze, mostly containing glycol (a form of alcohol) and corrosion protecting chemicals. Normal mix ratio is about 50/50, although the best freezing protection is achieved at something closer to 60/40 mix. In most parts of the world we don't need those last few degrees, and even if it gets cold enough to "freeze" it remains semi-liquid so it will not expand and crack your engine like normal ice.

    As for traditional: I have a book from 1947, the fifth updated edition of a book originally printed in 1933. It has a few pages about using ethanol, glycerine and glycol as antifreeze, as well as a chart showing how many % you need of the diffrent chemicals to achieve freezing protection to different temperatures.
     
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  19. jazz1
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,427

    jazz1
    Member

    We call it coolant when its 30C ,,,when its -30C its called antifreeze. Part of routine fall routine maintenance includes measuring specific gravity with a hydrometer. Many gas stations used to perform that simple task for customers when checking oil, tires etc..
     
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  20. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 7,992

    belair
    Member

    When my dad was a kid, he knew a guy who put kerosene in a Model A because anti-freeze was too expensive. I don't recommend you do that.
     
  21. krazee
    Joined: Nov 3, 2011
    Posts: 53

    krazee
    Member

    I think you will find the blue is Mobil Antifreeze in NZ. I'm a marine engineer and we generally will mix the Mobil blue and any green (Caltex, Amsol and a few others) but definitely don't mix with other colours. I have seen the mobil mixed with orange and it turned to a liquid jelly. We mix at about 50% to start with. It's more about protecting the dissimilar metals in the cooling system. There is a whole range of product out there so check the manufacturers recommendations.
     
  22. flux capacitor
    Joined: Sep 18, 2014
    Posts: 655

    flux capacitor
    Member

    Due to high lime content in our local water , a few local car enthusiast use distilled water. It also has a ever so slight lower boiling point when compared to tap water......supposedly. When we ran oval track cars we run slightly less than a 40/60 ratio of anti freeze to distilled water with a 22 lb cap & seemed to work well. I believe every lb of increase on the radiator cap also leads to lower running temps 1-5 degrees because it increases boiling point , if the core can handle it. Either way distilled h2o is cheap. Flux
     
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  23. Post 18 & 22 are right on. Pure water conducts heat better than anything, Distilled water is free of impurities and minerals, which vary depending on where you live. Since I have aluminum heads, intake and radiator in my Ford, I installed a Fluid Dyne anode in place of the drain-cock, just to ward off evil spirits associated with dis-similar metals.
     
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  24. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,222

    denis4x4
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Colorado

    One thing not mentioned here is to use the pet friendly brands. A very small leak will attract pets and there is something in the formula that will kill them. Owners of cars parked at trail heads in the mountains will sometimes return from an outing to find a dead marmot under the car and the lower hose chewed through and the radiator drained.
     
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  25. svodoc
    Joined: Jan 1, 2010
    Posts: 44

    svodoc
    Member

    Besides the fact that coolant/ antifreeze has corrosion inhibitors, it also is better for water pumps. It lubricates the seals in the pump and helps them last longer.
     
  26. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 3,050

    BamaMav
    Member
    from Berry, AL

    There are two different kinds of antifreeze as well, conventional, usually green or yellow in color, and the extended life version, sometimes called Dexcool, usually red or blue in color. You can't mix the two, although there are brands that say they are compatible with both kinds.
     
  27. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,959

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    I don't know why you don't go to your buddy and bum a half gallon of antifreeze, fill the jug with water and use it to top up your rads. Even if you had to pay for it, it would avoid all this agony and palaver.
     
  28. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 3,536

    Blues4U
    Member
    from So Cal

    "PLEASE SCHOOL ME ON ANTIFREEZE."

    OK, you asked, let's do it, and let's start with the basics.

    Engines require some kind of cooling system because they aren't 100% efficient. For each unit of fuel consumed only about 1/3 of it provides useful energy to propel the vehicle and power accessories, another 1/3rd of the engergy contained in the fuel is lost out the exhaust and another 1/3rd has to be dissipated as heat and transferred to the atmosphere. Air cooled engines do that directly via fins that radiate the heat, liquid cooled engines transfer the heat to a liquid medium that is transported to a radiator where the heat is exchanged to the atmosphere.

    The most basic coolant is just water, which is actually very efficient at transferring heat, but as mentioned by others above, water alone will cause corrosion/erosion of the system, and depending on the hardness of the water (mineral content) it can leave scale formations in the system. Also, water freezes at a relatively common winter temperatures. So to deal with these issues coolants or "antifreeze" are used.

    Modern coolants are a combination of chemicals designed to lower the freeze point of the mixture and prevent rust and corrosion of the system and scale formation. The main ingredient in antifreeze is ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is the most common used, propylene glycol is less toxic and so is less dangerous for animals, but ethylene glycol is the predominant antifreeze in use. In addition most coolants contain additives to resist rust and corrosion and fight scale deposits.

    Besides the type of glycol used, there are basically 3 types of antifreeze on the market: conventional (consumer grade), fully formulated heavy duty (commercial grade) and organic acid technology extended life coolant. The first thing to understand is there are no formal regulations and industry standards for colors used. The manufacturers can and do add dyes to their products and each manufacturer may have their own practices as far as color goes, but those standards are different across companies. So any of the 3 basic types can be any color the manufacturer, or the marketer, desires. Therefore you cannot just assume all green antifreeze is the same, or all blue, or red, or purple, etc. Forget about it, that doesn't work. You have to know what type of coolant you are using, by reading and understanding the label, not by looking at the color. Forget the color when discussing antifreeze, that just causes confusion, concentrate on the TYPE.

    OK, so let's discuss the different types.

    Conventional coolants are just the original coolants developed many decades ago, they are mostly designed to prevent freezing and to raise the boiling point of the coolant. They may contain some additives, but the treat rate is low. A brand name coolant will likely contain higher additive concentration, cheap house brand coolants may contain none at all. You get what you pay for.

    Fully formulated heavy duty SCA coolants were developed in the 80's to deal with a problem in heavy duty diesel engines with cylinder liners that are directly exposed to the coolant passages that is called "cavitation erosion". This is the erosion of the liners that occurs as tiny air bubbles in the coolant that contact the walls of the liner are caused to implode due to vibration of the liner under each combustion cycle. The liner actually expands and contracts under each power pulse, and this expansion/contraction causes air bubbles in the coolant to implode, and with each implosion a small piece of metal is etched away out of the liner. Eventually this erosion will eat all the way through the liner, at which point coolant can then penetrate into the cylinder and migrate down into the crankcase and contaminate the oil. Believe it or not, this is a huge issue with heavy duty diesel engines. Many, many diesel engines have been ruined by this. I've personally seen it many, many times. And I've personally had to repair/rebuild many engines because of it. So, heavy duty coolants were developed with special additives (officially called Supplemental Coolant Additives, or SCA for short) that coat the liners and provide a self sacrificial layer so that when the cavitation of the air bubbles occurs the layer of additives is etched away instead of the liner itself, and then more additives that are solubilized in the coolant replace the additives that were lost, to maintain the protective layer. Eventually the reserve of additives in the coolant is depleted and must be replenished. This is done by just adding new additive into the top of the radiator through the cap, or via a time release tablet of additives in a coolant filter. OK, so that's all interesting and all, but what's it got to do with hot rods or passenger cars in general. Well, in addition to those additives mentioned that prevent cavitation erosion of the cylinder liners, there are other additives that work to prevent rust formation on the interior passages of the coolant system, and to disperse minerals in the water (mostly calcium and magnesium) to prevent them from plating out on the surfaces as scale. So no, most passenger car engines do not have wet sleeve cylinder liners, but they are all susceptible to these other things, so these heavy duty fully formulated coolants can actually be beneficial for the cooling system in your hot rod or other OT passenger cars.

    So then what's the deal with the 3rd type of coolants you ask? Well, the problem with those fully formulated coolants is they are actually rather difficult to maintain the correct ratio of additives. This is a problem industry wide in trucking and heavy earth moving equipment. I work in this industry and the issue is massive, bigger than most people know. Since the company I work for sells engine coolants (they are what we call "ancillary" products, not our main products, but we do carry and sell them) I get involved in helping our customers solve cooling system issues, and I've seen it all. Mostly by people that consider themselves experts in truck and equipment maintenance, yet the level of ignorance about coolants out there is astounding. Anyway, I'm getting off track here. But because of the huge problems with correct SCA levels in coolants, the industry has developed a new type of additive chemistry to deal with it, and that is Organic Acid Technology, or OAT for short; also known as "extended life coolant". This type of antifreeze does away with the SCA additives and replaces them with a deactivated weak acid that plates the surfaces of the cylinder liners to prevent cavitation erosion. These acid additives are very long lived and do not need replacing nearly as often as SCA additives. Again, these coolants contain other additives that help prevent rust and corrosion and scale formation, so they are excellent for passenger cars and hot rods.

    One thing that is very important is the increasing presence of aluminum in cooling systems. Somebody mentioned aluminum heads on his flat head engine. Yep, that's a good point. But what about all those aluminum intake manifolds out there where the coolant is routed through the manifold (every SBC)? And what about all those nice aluminum radiators out there? This is a huge issue for the hot rodding world, traditional and otherwise. Many conventional and SCA type coolants contain nitrites as part of the additive package in the coolant. Nitrites are know to be aggressive against aluminum and will attack aluminum. For this reason there are nitrite free coolants now on the market, so my suggestion to all of you with aluminum components is to use a nitrite free extended life coolant.

    What about mixing coolants? Somebody above said something about if you mix 2 different types you'll get a negative reaction resulting in a gel formation of some other horrible result. This is not true. If you mix coolants what you'll get is reduced effectiveness of both types, and the resulting mixture will be less capable of protecting the cooling system and will likely result in corrosion and rust and scale, high acid levels, and eventually a horrible mess in your system. 100% of the time I am called out to investigate cooling system problems what I find is a mixture of coolants being used (we know this because we draw samples of the coolant from the radiator and have it analyzed at a lab, and the results tell us what is in the mixture), or none at all. For this reason I highly recommend settling on 1 type of coolant. Hell, make it one brand. Just choose 1, again, my recommendation is a nitrite free extended life coolant, and stick to it.

    The proper mixture ratio is 50% water, 50% antifreeze. Why 50% water? Why not 100% antifreeze? Because as I mentioned at the top of this, water is actually very efficient at transferring heat, better than antifreeze. So 50/50 is the preferred ratio for maximum heat transfer balanced against freeze and boil over protection, and from rust and corrosion, so use 50/50 as your guideline. The water used is also important. Ideally you should use deionized water, to prevent all those minerals in tap water from getting in the coolant and forming scale. Next to deionized water is distilled water. Keep in mind that the quality of water you use, the hardness level, is directly proportional to the quality of the coolant in your engine. There are additives in the coolant to help fight against scale formation, but there are limits to their capability, and exceedingly hard water will exceed those capabilities. How hard is the water in your area? Here's some maps that may be helpful:

    http://www.electrostoreonline.com/Electronic-Water-Descaler/Hard water areas/Info.aspx

    OK, so what about maintenance. Well first of all, settle on type/brand of coolant and use only that. Extended life coolants last a very long time. We recommend 600,000 miles for on road diesel truck use, and 6 years or 12,000 hours of off-road heavy equipment use. I don't know how that correlates to passenger car use, but for most of us it's longer than we own most cars. You can test the protection level of the coolant by measuring the freeze point and the ph level. The easiest way to do this is with a hydrometer. If the freeze point is correct than the mixture level is correct.

    http://www.amazon.com/E-Z-Red-S102-Anti-Freeze-Hydrometer/dp/B000JFL7RG

    Better than a hydrometer is a refractometer, something every pro mechanic should have in his tool box:

    http://www.tequipment.net/ExtechRF40.asp?Source=googleshopping&gclid=CMS9trre_MkCFdKDfgodspgLxw

    Those will get you the freeze protection/antifreeze level, then you need to know the ph level, and for that we use test strips:

    http://www.acustrip.com/cgi-bin/prodcat.cgi?pc=Water+Based+Coolant

    OK, that's it. Schools out. Hope this is helpful.



     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  29. haychrishay
    Joined: Jul 23, 2008
    Posts: 942

    haychrishay
    Member

    Quetion for Blues4U, You were talking about pure water and deionized water. I have a window cleaning business and I use a pure water, waterfed system. This system uses two Reverse Osmosis filters, one Decarbon, and one Deionizing filter to create pure water. The tap water at my house measures about 200 -250 TDS ( parts per million of Total Disolved Solids). I have a Flathead with a new set of Aluminum heads. The previous owner had already been using Dexcool so I continued with it thinking GM has a mixture of Iron block and aluminum head engines hoping this would reduce corrosion of my new heads. I purchased premixed with the hope that they used distilled water. All of this to ask if the pure water my machine produces is the kind you are speaking of. The concern about pure water is this, it is said to be the best solvent out there, which leads me to wonder if that would be a problem. I hope this makes sense. Chris
     
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