One of the main things that people forget to either replace or just even use in their sometimes new but mostly old cars is the coolant. And by coolant i do not mean using plain water. By coolant I mean a proper solution of antifreeze (sometimes also known as anti-boil since it has both of these characteristics).
What is antifreeze, you might ask? Well it is glycol-based fluid made primarily from ethylene glycol or propylene glycol that goes into the cooling system of your car.
Water, as good as it is, has limitations when it comes to heating and freezing as well as causing some form of damage. We all know water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius and boils at 100 degrees Celsius. That is a relatively short window of operations with regards to machines in many cases. And it can cause rust and corrosion to some metals. Frozen water inside the radiator or engine block is not the best scenario. There are moving parts like a waterbody which is basically a type of a water pump mounted on the engine block that pushes the coolant through the water channels inside the block and radiator.
Frozen water will freeze the fins of the waterbody which is mostly driven mechanically through a belt but in some new hybrid cars, it is driven electronically by an electric motor. Whatever system your car uses, it will fail if it cannot spin because of all that ice inside. And you do not want your waterbody to fail like that.
Besides, the ice inside water channels can not only rupture your radiator, it can even crack the block in some extreme cases.
What these man-made synthetic mixtures of liquids commonly called coolants do is that they widen the operating window of water/coolant solution. So now the liquid in your radiator will not freeze below zero degrees as well as it will not boil when it reaches 100 and above. And the fact that most coolants contain inhibitors like tolyltriazole to protect the cooling system from rust and corrosion prolongs the life of your vehicle and its parts.
Also, another thing that might be interesting is that there are two types of coolants. Type A and Type B. It is an Australian automotive standard but you might have seen it on some bottles here in Pakistan as well hence the reason for the explanation in this blog as well. Well Type A coolant contains rust, corrosion and cavitation inhibitors as well as it has antifreeze/anti-boil characteristics. On the other hand, Type B coolant only contains inhibitors for rust, corrosion and cavitation and does not have antifreeze/anti-boil properties. Just make sure you are getting the right product next time in the market and do not go for stylized Type A or Type B text on the bottles of the coolants.
There are a lot of myths regarding coolants and that they will corrode your radiator or heating coil inside the cabin or some other part of the engine that comes in direct contact with the coolant. First of all, that should not happen. If you see corrosion, that is a point of concern. What you need to know is that there are different types of coolants for different types of metals and alloys used in radiators etc. It is possible some old-school copper radiators react poorly to coolant that has is not properly proportioned (mixture of water and antifreeze concentrate). For that, you can use copper-friendly premixed coolants.
For most road vehicles, and in most scenarios, the ideal mixture should contain 50% coolant and 50% water (ideally demineralised water). You can use 60% water and 40% coolant as well but keep in mind that the efficacy of the solutions keeps on reducing the less the coolant is. But going heavy handed with coolant in contrast to water is also not a great idea. It is best to read the label on the coolant bottle and do as it says. So if all these ratios and mixing is a bit too much for you, you can always go for some quality premixed coolant. They come premixed from the manufacturers and all you got to do it drain previous solutions and replace that with this premixed coolant. But the downside is that you cannot use plain tap water to top it in case the coolant level has decreased.
Hope this has helped you in some way. Like every fluid in your car, coolant needs replacement as well. It starts losing it properties with the passage of time. Make sure you check the owner’s manual of your car and inspect/replace coolant of your vehicle on time. It will increase the overall lifespan of your vehicle as well as save you in case you are stuck in some extreme weather conditions.