Anti-Freeze/Coolants have different additive packages to address corrosion within the cooling system. These packages take into account many factors, like whether the engine is aluminum or cast iron, whether it uses a copper/brass (lead-soldered) radiator or aluminum, whether or not certain plastics come into contact with the coolant and likely water type (hard or soft) that’s used to “top up”. It’s pretty complex, and the color of the coolant does not tell the whole story. Some coolants of the same color have different additive packages!

We don’t believe there is a truly “universal” coolant that should be used for all cars. Some manufacturers think otherwise and bear the liability of that claim. You can get away with using the wrong coolant in your car just the same as you could use the wrong weight or specification of motor oil, but it may eventually cause damage that didn’t need to happen. It will also happen far enough into the future that you probably won’t think the problem relates to the coolant (think leaky radiator, corroded water pump or leaking plastic intake manifold.

There are generally three types of ethylene glycol-based coolants. The first type that uses silicate additives is known as “IAT”, short for Inorganic Acid Technology. This is the conventional “green” antifreeze. It’s really good at preventing corrosion, especially in older cars with brass radiators and cast iron engines. The big problem is it doesn’t last long before the additive package (and your corrosion protection) wears out – 2 years or 40-50K miles.

The second type of coolant addresses the short lifespan of the IAT coolant by not using silicates or inorganic corrosion inhibitors. “OAT”, or Organic Acid Technology coolants, typically last about 5 years or 100-150K miles. Examples are Prestone Extended life, Dex-Cool, and, Pentofrost SF (Silicate Free). They are NOT all the same, though. Dex-Cool, for instance, contains an additive called 2-EHA that helps with corrosion but is a plasticizer – it softens some plastics. It is recommended for use in GM and some VW/Audi vehicles ONLY.

The final general category of coolant is a “HOAT” type, or Hybrid Organic Acid Technology, which is an extended-life coolant combining conventional inorganic additives (mostly silicate or phosphorus based) with organic inhibitors. We sell this as Zerex G-05 , Pentofrost E (Nitrate and Phosphorus-free), NF(Nitrate Free) for European applications and Pentofrost A1, A2, A3 & A4 for Japanese vehicles. The G-05 formulation is preferred for most Chrysler and Ford applications.

A Few Final Tips . . .
  • Application information can be found on the back of Zerex G-05 containers, in the Pentosin catalog or website (which is very specific) and our Epicor electronic catalog (sometimes).
  • Dex-Cool is OK for GM and some VW/Audi vehicles ONLY!
  • Mixing IAT (silicated) coolants with some HOAT coolants may cause gelling!
  • Many coolant manufacturers specify use of distilled, de-ionized or soft water when adding water to the system with most or their products (ex: Prestone Extended Life). Minerals and ions in hard water are causes of corrosion.
  • Mixing coolant and water in a 50/50 blend is strongly recommended for street use to maintain corrosion protection while also protecting against freezing and boiling over. It’s true that in a pressurized system the heat transfer of 100% water is better than the 50/50 coolant mix, but that only matters for racers who are OK with expensive engine problems if the pressure system fails! Keep it 50/50!
  • When you consider the importance of good water in a cooling system and keeping a 50/50 water/coolant mix, the pre-mix coolant starts to sound appealing.
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