For those who don’t know, anti-freeze serves a few purposes in your car’s engine. In the winter its most important job is to act as:
anti-freeze. It ensures that the coolant in your engine does not freeze when temperatures drop below freezing and lower.
Even in the winter, your vehicle’s engine runs extremely hot and needs to be cooled so it’s important that the liquid doesn’t freeze. If it does, well, engines can crack as can many of the hoses, belts, and other internal engine parts.
The “anti-freeze” is actually quite important in the summer heat also. In the summer it acts as an “anti-boil”. It helps keep the coolant from becoming boiling hot and doing damage to the engine that way.
The magical liquid that when added to water acts as the anti-freeze and anti-boil is called ethylene glycol.
Ethylene glycol has a boiling point of 387°F (197°C) and when mixed with water at a 1:1 ratio, it has a freezing point of about -40°F(-40°C) which is ideal for the normal range of applications.
Besides keeping your engine running at the proper temperatures, today’s engine coolant also contains lubricants and anti-corrosive agents that lubricate the water pump bearings and help keep the radiator from rusting. Also, it helps maintain a regular ph balance in the cooling system.
If your vehicle loses engine coolant, you need to make sure that you check the level in the radiator often to insure that there’s enough fluid in it to protect the engine. You can’t just add water because you need the coolant to keep from boiling or freezing depending on the current season.
Also, just like you change the other fluids in your vehicle, anti-freeze or coolant should be changed. With the extreme swings in temperature that your car experiences every day, the radiator and associated hoses and pipes break down.
These break downs lead to rust particles, rubber particles, and other particulates running through the system. A radiator flush will help remove these particles and keep your coolant system running well for a long time. Just follow the recommendations set forth in the owner's manual of your vehicle.
If you do flush the system yourself, make sure you properly dispose of old antifreeze / coolant at a local facility that specializes in handling it. Engine coolant should never be poured down the drain or outside onto the ground given its harmful elements.
As with most chemicals, make sure you keep anti-freeze out of reach of children and pets.
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