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What is a Car Coolant and How Does it Work?

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 07/05/2024

A motor vehicle operates with the help of integral circuits that are joined together to its engine. Every function of your car is related to its engine in one way or the other, directly or indirectly. Hence, every component of the car can get some spare time, but the engine has to keep on running at all times.

Your engine needs to maintain its temperature, and a car coolant helps the engine achieve that temperature. Your car performs multiple activities at the same time, like driving, blasting the radio, running the A/C or the cooler, and other inconspicuous activities. This is why your engine needs an assistant like a car coolant!

Car Coolant: Explained

A car engine coolant is also known as antifreeze. As the name suggests, this coolant is a cooling agent for your car’s engine. Overheating or freezing of an engine can result in various situations where your car will face performance issues.

A car coolant comes in the form of a fluid. It regulates the temperature of the engine in various climate conditions. This fluid will circulate in the pipes and cylinders in and around the engine and manage the temperature to match the optimised level.

The vehicle's combustion generates heat in the car’s engine, which is absorbed by the circulating fluid. This is possible because the fluid is mixed with water, which increases the coolant's boiling point and decreases its freezing point.

Let us understand how the car coolant works!

Car Engine Coolant: Mechanisms and Functions

The journey of a car coolant begins by circulating through the cylinders of an engine, which are called the cooling passages of your car.

  • When the engine is initiated, it begins churning the fuel present in the tank. It releases a lot of pressure and energy for the car to function. This process is called combustion.

  • When this energy is being released, the engine produces a lot of heat. The friction and energy causes the engine to heat up. This heat needs to be subdued, or else it affects the car’s overall performance and health.

  • The engine must be regulated and normalised to bring it back to its optimal temperature. The use of coolant in a car optimises the temperature by absorbing the heat. The coolants flow through the pipelines in the engine and absorb the heat.

  • The fluid becomes hot once the heat is absorbed. This heat is carried to the car engine’s critical components, like the radiator. This mechanism uses a water pump to make the fluid reach the radiator and do its job.

  • The air that passes through the radiator then takes away the heat. This is called heat transfer. This is possible because the natural or aided airflow transfers the heat to the passing air. That is how we get rid of the excess waste heat in the coolant.

  • Once the coolant is completely cooled and free of heat, it again returns to the engine to repeat the process and regulate the car engine’s temperature.

  • With the help of the fluid and water mixture, the antifreeze solution keeps the engine from freezing and overheating in extreme conditions.

  • This is a very straightforward process, which helps you understand the process of temperature regulation in a car’s engine. As a driver, you do not need to know about the technicalities of the procedure.

  • However, understanding the function of your car’s crucial component is paramount for knowing its condition. Nonetheless, awareness is a virtue!

Types of Car Coolants: Car Engine Cooling Systems

Organic Acid Technology Car Coolant

An organic acid technology antifreeze is made up of propylene glycol. OAT coolants usually come in colours like orange, red, pink, yellow, or purple and, very rarely, dark green. These organic coolants utilise organic acid corrosion inhibitors in place of acidic additives.

Organic coolants are silicate and phosphate-free and offer great protection against corrosion. Due to their longevity, they only need to be flushed every 5 years. The organic coolants are more compatible with the newer range of cars than the older ones. They are also compatible with a wide range of materials, making them a flexible choice.

Inorganic Additive Technology Car Coolant

Inorganic coolants contain acidic additives like silicate and phosphate to inhibit corrosion. IAT antifreeze is a green engine coolant and is almost never found in any other colours.

Compared to the modern version, the organic version, these coolants need frequent flushes or replacements. You should flush an inorganic coolant every two years to keep your engine’s performance optimal and high-quality.

These coolants offer excellent freeze protection, are great for fighting against corrosion and rust, and are very reliable when it comes to delivering great performance.

Hybrid Organic Acid Technology Car Coolant

As the name suggests, these coolants are made of acidic additives as well as organic acids. However, there are types within this section of coolants:

Phosphate-free HOAT: hybrid coolant that does not contain phosphate.

Phosphate HOAT: hybrid coolant that uses phosphate in its solution.

Silicated HOAT: hybrid coolant that uses silicate additives in its solution.

Due to the segments in this type of car coolant, you can find these coolants in a spectrum of colours from yellow to turquoise.

Steps for Choosing the Perfect Car Coolant

Car engine coolants are basically acidic fluids that might have a bad or unusual reaction if used with the wrong kind of metal or component. Beyond this consideration, it is always crucial to choose the best option available for your car. Many people make the mistake of not picking the right coolant and end up with an average or subpar performance from their car’s engine.

Vehicle Manual

Your vehicle owner’s manual states the type of engine coolant you will need. When you go for a car coolant replacement or flush, make sure that you read the manual carefully. The internet might be of great help as well. If you want to avoid any mishap in the future, go by the books!

Description

The manual will specify the kind of coolant your car needs. The most obvious characteristic mentioned in the manual will be the colour of the coolant. This is because the chemicals that these coolants are made of turn into a specific colour.

Ask a Professional

You can reach out to the manufacturers or service centre of the car. On examining the car’s make and model, professionals will help you find the best choice and perfect match for your car.

Basic Components of a Good Car Coolant

A car coolant is made up of 4 basic ingredients:

  • Water

  • Corrosion inhibitors

  • Propylene Glycol

  • Ethylene Glycol

Let us see what a good antifreeze looks like:

Water

Water is a primary component of a car coolant and it serves as the base fluid of the formulation. The coolant fluid is half water and half acids, which makes it easy for the solution to flow through the engine’s pipelines.

Corrosion Inhibitors

Corrosion inhibitors are agents or additives that protect your engine from any kind of rust or corrosion for a long period of time. Since acids surround the cooling system, there is a possibility of corrosion damage.

However, the corrosion inhibitors create a protective layer on the metal surface which prevents it from coming in contact with corrosion-inducing components.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is used in the fluid formulations because it is very low in the levels of toxicity compared to other glycols, like ethylene. While it functions like ethylene glycol when protecting the engine from freezing or overheating, it poses less harm to the human counterparts of the situation.

Ethylene Glycol

Ethylene glycol, as mentioned above, is a great acid that helps in the reduction and transfer of heat at the time of the cooling process. It is a commonly found additive acid in coolants and is known for its excellent thermal properties.

Ethylene glycol reduces the freezing point of the coolant, which prevents the fluid from solidifying. It also increases the boiling point, which prevents it from overheating due to the energy and heat generated by the car’s engine.

Car’s Health With Tata AIG Car Insurance Policies

As a car owner, you want your car to be in its best health. One of the best ways to ensure enough financial support to take care of car damages and repairs is through a four-wheeler insurance policy.

You can choose between various types of car insurance plans, like third-party car insurance, stand alone own damage car insurance plan and comprehensive car insurance plan. The car insurance price for your chosen policy will largely depend on the coverage and insurance riders you chose.

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Conclusive Remarks

Well, our lives depend on our cars and their health. While this might sound like an exaggeration, it is safe to say that it is not one. One thing goes wrong with your car’s condition and things can go down south real fast. This is why you need to know your car.

Car coolants make your vehicle a safe space for you to travel in. Understanding how the coolants function is important so that you can make better driving choices and maintain your car in optimal condition.

We hope you found this blog at the right time and that it helped you know more about your car and its needs.

FAQS

How often should one check or replace a car coolant?

It is recommended that you check the health of your car coolant after every 50,000 km of driving. As for replacing your car engine coolant, they will vary with the kind of utility your vehicle has. However, you can replace a coolant every 3-5 years.

What happens if a car operates without a car coolant?

The basic function of a car coolant is to provide a safe and unheated environment for the engine to reside and function in. Without a coolant, the engine might end up overheating, which can cause serious damage to your vehicle. Coolants prevent the temperature from reaching unhealthily high temperatures.

What is the cost of coolant?

The cost of car coolant varies depending on the brand, type and quality of coolen you purchase.

What are the indicators of my car needing a replacement for the existing car coolant?

Your vehicle will give you signs indicating the need for a replacement of car coolant. You have to be observant. The signs include engine overheating, coolant leaking under the car, unusual smell, etc.

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