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Antifreeze or coolant is a very important component of an engine’s cooling system. Without coolants, it would be quite difficult to prevent an engine from freezing or overheating. This automotive fluid is critical to the optimum operation of your car’s engine. Using the right type of coolant is, therefore, important. The problem now is which of the different colors of coolant you should use. Should you use an orange coolant or the green antifreeze? Is there any difference at all?

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Purpose

There is no difference in the purpose of either variant of engine coolant. Both serve to protect the engine from freezing and overheating, depending on which part of the globe you live in. If you live in warm regions, then the coolant will help prevent engine overheating. Motorists who live in colder climates can rely on antifreeze to avoid freezing their engines.

In addition to protecting the engine against extremes of temperatures, engine coolants also provide corrosion protection. The cooling system of the car is mostly composed of metal parts. These are subject to corrosion if one only uses water. Another issue that an engine coolant can help with is the formation of scales or deposits. These can lower the cooling efficiency of the system and lead to faster deterioration of the engine.

Modern engine coolants also contain anti-foam additives. The prevention of foam formation within the cooling system can help enhance its efficiency. This translates to better engine performance and the prevention of unnecessary engine wear.

Technology

This is the major difference between a green coolant and an orange antifreeze. One utilizes Inorganic Additive Technology, while the other uses Organic Acid Technologies. The technologies alone will already provide you a clue as to the types of ingredients that your radiator fluid contains.

A green coolant uses Inorganic Additive Technology. This technology is the older of the two. Coolant manufacturers produce this type of engine coolant for pre-2000 cars. Many of these cars have copper and steel components in their radiators. Inorganic substances are those that do not contain the carbon element in their chemical structure. This type of engine coolant features anti-corrosion additives. They have a lifespan of about two to three years. After this period, the coolant requires flushing and replacement.

The orange coolant uses the Organic Acid Technologies. As you may have guessed, this includes chemicals that contain carbon. This is a newer technology and as a response to the shift in the material composition of newer car engine cooling systems. Modern cars now use nylon and aluminum, instead of steel and copper in their cooling systems. The additives in an orange antifreeze prevent corrosion at the same time helping to cool the engine.

There is another type of engine coolant that is an offshoot of the OAT. This is the Hybrid OAT. It combines the cooling efficiency of IAT and the corrosion resistance of OAT. This technology can have a radiator fluid color of yellow, pink, red, or blue. They can last anywhere between 4 and 5 years or up to 150,000 miles before requiring flushing and replacement.

Ingredients

The principal ingredients in a green coolant are silicates and phosphates. They are excellent corrosion inhibitors. The major issue with the use of phosphates is that they can react with the minerals in hard water. This can lead to scale formation. One has to understand that coolants work best with a 50/50 ratio with water. Using hard water can lead to the formation of scales within the cooling system.

In addition to these chemicals, green-colored engine coolants also come in either propylene glycol or ethylene glycol. Many manufacturers today use propylene glycol because it is less toxic compared to ethylene glycol. This substance is more important in protecting the engine against freezing.

On the other hand, an orange coolant features carboxylates. These are great corrosion inhibitors with extra-long lifespan. What makes them unique is that carboxylates interact only with metal surfaces that need protection. This is unlike the phosphates and silicates in green-colored coolants that coat the whole surface of the cooling system.

The use of carboxylates provides many benefits to the modern engine. It gives better protection for aluminum at higher temperatures. It also provides better heat transfers while extending their life cycles.

Mixing

One of the questions that bug many vehicle owners is – Can you mix orange and green antifreeze? Unfortunately, many of the people ask this question after they have already mixed the two types of engine coolant.

Mixing an orange antifreeze with a green antifreeze is never a good idea. Recall that one type uses inorganic ingredients, while the other makes use of organic chemicals. Mixing these two types can lead to a chemical reaction that results in the formation of a gel. The engine cooling system requires a very fluid coolant, not a sluggish antifreeze.

Because of the very thick consistency of the resulting mixture, the coolant will not be able to flow properly. It can also cease flowing altogether. It can clog up the passageways of the cooling system. These can include the heater cores, the radiator, and the water jackets. The water pump can also overheat. If this continues, it can lead to the failure of the water pump.

As you know, the water pump provides the force that moves the coolant throughout the cooling system. When this happens, your engine can overheat. Head gaskets can blow and the cylinder heads can warp. Over time, the engine can suffer serious, irreparable damage. Your only recourse is to have a major engine rebuild. In many cases, it would make more sense to get another car.

The next time someone asks you, can you mix orange and green antifreeze, you already know how to answer.

Radiator fluid color can tell you a lot of things about your car. Having a green-colored coolant means your engine cooling system still has steel and copper components to it. It also means more frequent replacement of the coolant. Having an orange coolant means your car stays protected for up to 5 years.

Sources:

  1. The Difference Between the Green & Orange Coolant – It Still Runs
  2. What’s the difference between green coolant and orange coolant? – Quora

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