The Car Bibles Essential Guide to Antifreeze

Keeping your engine cool or warm, depending on the climate, is vital to the longevity of your car. Too cold, … Continued

Keeping your engine cool or warm, depending on the climate, is vital to the longevity of your car. Too cold, and your car won’t start, but too warm, and it’ll stop working in a very dramatic fashion. Keeping your engine at a perfect operating temperature is your car’s cooling system, which employs the use of antifreeze. Antifreeze is not, however, coolant, though many believe it to be.

To better understand your car’s cooling system, what part antifreeze and coolant play in keeping your car humming along, as well as the difference between the two, Car Bibles’ icy-cool editors, put together this perfect companion to your car’s manual. So scroll along, get educated, and learn all about your car’s antifreeze and cooling system. 

What Is Antifreeze?

Simply stated, antifreeze is concentrated ethylene glycol and silica, though the levels of each will depend on the manufacturer. Antifreeze and coolant, however, aren’t interchangeable terms. 

What Is Coolant?

Coolant is created when either the customer or manufacturer mixes concentrated antifreeze solution with good ole H2O. This mixture then goes into your cooling system via the radiator.

How Does Antifreeze Work?

When combined with water, the antifreeze/water solution (coolant) helps regulate an internal combustion engine’s temperature to keep it from both overheating and being too cold to operate. 

What’s the Difference Between Coolant and Antifreeze?

As mentioned above, Antifreeze is the concentrated solution of ethylene glycol and silica, while coolant is that solution combined with water. This mixture is what regulates your engine’s temperature. 

A radiator cap.
Antifreeze is part of the coolant that goes into a radiator.

Car Bible’s Glossary for Antifreeze

Welcome to Bible school!

  • Thermostat

Thermostats are used to monitor and regulate temperatures, both in climate control systems and in engine control systems. 

  • Radiator

Radiators are devices in vehicles that take in hot coolant liquid and use a series of fins and grates to dissipate heat out into the air. The coolant then circulates back into the engine, where it gathers more heat for the radiator to cool.

  • Coolant Temperature Sensor

A coolant temperature sensor (CTS) is a small device that reads the cooling system’s coolant temperature by measuring and responding to changes in electrical resistance.

  • Head Gasket

Your head gasket can either be some type of squeezed-on polymer or pseudo-fabric liner that sits between an engine’s head(s) and block.It’s job is to maintain pressure and keep the engine’s disparate fluids away from one another by sealing off various compartments and fluid lines. It can sometimes fail, and coolant can leak into the cylinders and cause a blown head gasket, which almost certainly destroys the engine.

Your Questions, Our Answers on Antifreeze and Coolant

Car Bibles answers your burning questions!

Q: What Do the Different Colors of Coolant Mean?

A: Colors used to determine how the coolant was manufactured, with blue and green coolant signaling Inorganic Additive Technology as the primary base, while orange signaled Organic Acid Technology, the new kid on the block. 

You can read up more about the two in Car Bibles’  The Difference Between Green and Orange Coolant

Today, color means nothing, so check your manufacturer’s recommendations for what your car needs.

Q: How Do I Know if My Car Needs Antifreeze?

A: You can wait until your car starts overheating, or after the car has cooled, open up the radiator cap and check the reservoir. 

Q: How Much Does It Cost To Fix a Blown Head Gasket?

A: A lot. It likely means your engine is destroyed, which means purchasing a new one and all the parts associated with it that were damaged by the engine melting itself.

Car Bible’s Favorite Antifreeze Related Products

You can buy coolant and antifreeze at almost every auto parts and home improvement store. As well as online stores like Amazon. You have a sea of options to select from. We grabbed a few choices to help narrow down your selection with Car Bible’s Best Antifreeze

Disclosure: is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Pages on this site may include affiliate links to Amazon and its affiliate sites on which the owner of this website will make a referral commission.

Jonathon Klein

Jonathon KleinJonathon has jumped Aston Martins for Automobile Magazine, clocked 200 mph in a McLaren 720S for Playboy, and sampled his best life behind the wheel of a Ferrari Dino Evo for Road & Track. He’s hopelessly addicted to the strongest coffee he can brew. Please send him more. Contact the author here.