What Is Antifreeze?
It’s one of those things everyone knows is important for a car’s function, but most people don’t really understand why that is. Antifreeze – what is it, exactly?
The dictionary defines it as “a liquid, typically one based on ethylene glycol, which can be added to water to lower the freezing point, chiefly used in the radiator of a motor vehicle.” Antifreeze is also known as coolant which may seem strange. It’s something that cools but doesn’t freeze? Precisely.
This chemical, when added to water, helps to maintain the temperature of the water in your car’s radiator so that in the summer it doesn’t boil over and in the winter it doesn’t freeze. This is because the chemical solution has a higher boiling point (up to 275 degrees Fahrenheit) and a lower boiling point (down to 30 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) than water does. The liquid within your car’s radiator is typically 50/50: 50 percent water and 50 percent antifreeze. Another job of antifreeze/coolant is as a lubricant. It lubricates the moving parts it comes into contact with, such as the water pump.
Coolant circulates through a set path in your car’s engine. It flows through the radiator and o
ut of the bottom of the radiator through the lower radiator hose. From there it flows into the water pump which provides the push necessary to circulate it throughout the car engine. As the coolant absorbs heat from the car’s engine, it then goes through the thermostat, then the upper radiator hose, and finally back to the radiator where outside air acts to lower the temperature of the hot coolant. This is how your engine stays cool and functioning even in the hottest weather.
A few other things it’s important to know about antifreeze are:
- Antifreeze should be flushed and replaced in your vehicle every two years.
- Adding 100 percent antifreeze to your car isn’t advisable. It should be mixed with water. Be sure to read the label when purchasing antifreeze to know what you are buying.
- Ethylene glycol is highly toxic, but it has a sweet taste and smell which makes it dangerous to have around pets and children. Keep new antifreeze out of reach. If you see green or red fluid leaking out of your car, this is antifreeze. Address the problem before anyone can get hurt. It’s toxic to fish and other animals, so do not flush down your drain.
Your auto mechanic will know what to do about an antifreeze leak and how to safely recycle old antifreeze. If it’s time for your car to have its radiator flushed and refilled with new antifreeze, call Veenstra’s Garage. We would be happy to help you do that before winter hits West Michigan.