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What Does Coolant/Antifreeze Actually Do?

Coolant, also called antifreeze, does exactly that -- it cools, and prevents freezing! Your car's cooling system needs coolant to regulate the temperature of your engine and prevent overheating. On the other end of the spectrum, it prevents your engine from freezing in the event of very cold temperatures.

How is it possible?

Although it may seem like magic, there's a perfectly reasonable -- and scientific -- explanation for why one colorful liquid can do two seemingly opposite jobs. The main active ingredient that is used in most coolant/antifreeze is a chemical called ethylene glycol, which is mixed with water before putting it in your car.

As you may know, water has a boiling point of 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit) and a freezing point of 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). When you combine equal parts water and ethylene glycol, the boiling point is raised to 106 degrees Celsius (220 degrees Fahrenheit) and the freezing point is lowered to -37 degrees Celsius (-35 degrees Fahrenheit). The difference can be more dramatic with a mixture that has more ethylene glycol than water. This is how coolant/antifreeze prevents both, overheating and freezing.

How does it work?

For coolant/antifreeze to do its job, you pour the diluted liquid into the radiator, which is located in front of the engine. The water pump pumps the liquid through channels in the engine block, where it absorbs heat from the engine. The hot liquid is then pumped back toward the radiator through thin rubber tubes, cooling along the way. Then the cooled liquid is pumped through the engine block again and the cycle repeats. It's the water pump's job to keep the coolant/antifreeze constantly circulating so that it can continue to cool the engine effectively.

Does it need to be changed?

The short answer: yes.

There are elements of coolant/antifreeze that prevent the metal it comes into contact with from rusting and wearing away. Over some time, these elements break down and this puts your car at risk of corroding.

If you need a cooling system repair, give our auto repair shop a call today!