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How to Know What Coolant to Put in Your Car

Don’t you just hate it when your car overheats? Well, the right coolant can make all the difference. This article will help you understand the importance of coolants, the different types available, and how to choose the right one for your vehicle. So, let’s dive in!

Coolant, also known as antifreeze, plays a crucial role in your car’s engine. It keeps your engine cool in the summer, prevents it from freezing in the winter, and protects it from corrosion. Choosing the wrong coolant can lead to engine damage, so it’s essential to use the right one for your car.

How to Choose the Right Coolant

To pick the right coolant for your car, follow these three steps:

Check the Owner’s Manual

Your car’s owner’s manual is your best friend when it comes to choosing the right coolant. The manufacturer will recommend a specific coolant type and formulation, ensuring compatibility with your vehicle’s engine and cooling system.

Consider Your Vehicle’s Age

The age of your vehicle can also guide you in selecting the appropriate coolant. Older vehicles generally use IAT coolants, while newer models may require OAT, HOAT, or P-OAT types. However, always confirm with your owner’s manual before making a decision.

Assess Your Driving Conditions

Think about the climate and driving conditions you typically encounter. If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, you may need a coolant with a broader temperature range to protect your engine adequately.

Types of Coolants

There are four main types of coolants that you’ll find on the market:

Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT)

IAT coolants are the traditional, green-colored coolants. They are typically used in older vehicles and contain inorganic salts, which offer corrosion protection. However, they have a shorter service life (around 2-3 years) compared to newer coolants.

Organic Acid Technology (OAT)

OAT coolants are often orange or yellow and are used in newer vehicles. They provide longer-lasting corrosion protection, with a service life of up to 5 years. OAT coolants are not compatible with IAT coolants and should not be mixed.

Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT)

HOAT coolants combine the benefits of both IAT and OAT coolants. They usually come in yellow, orange, or pink colors and provide long-lasting protection for up to 5 years. HOAT coolants are commonly used in European and some American cars.

Phosphate-free Organic Acid Technology (P-OAT)

P-OAT coolants are primarily used in European vehicles and are free from phosphates. They have a longer service life, up to 5 years, and provide excellent corrosion protection. P-OAT coolants are typically blue or purple.

Coolant Colors

While coolant colors can help you identify the type, it’s essential not to rely solely on color when choosing a coolant. Manufacturers may use different dye colors, so it’s best to verify the coolant type by checking the label or consulting your owner’s manual.

Mixing Different Coolants

It’s generally not recommended to mix different coolant types, as this can lead to reduced corrosion protection and potential engine damage. If you’re unsure of your current coolant type, it’s best to drain and flush your cooling system before adding a new type of coolant.

Pre-mixed vs Concentrated Coolants

Coolants come in two forms: pre-mixed and concentrated. Pre-mixed coolants are ready to use and contain a 50/50 mix of coolant and water. Concentrated coolants need to be diluted with water, usually at a 50/50 ratio, before use. Both options are suitable, so choose the one that works best for your needs and preferences.

How to Replace Your Coolant

To replace your coolant, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your engine is cool to avoid burns and other injuries.
  2. Place a drain pan under the radiator drain valve and open it to drain the old coolant.
  3. Once the coolant is drained, close the valve and remove the radiator cap.
  4. Fill the radiator with the new coolant, ensuring it reaches the “full” mark.
  5. Replace the radiator cap and start the engine, allowing it to run for a few minutes to circulate the new coolant.
  6. Turn off the engine and check the coolant level again, topping it off if necessary.

Coolant Maintenance Tips

To ensure your cooling system stays in top shape, follow these tips:

  1. Check your coolant level regularly, preferably once a month.
  2. Inspect your coolant for signs of contamination, such as dirt or oil, and replace it if necessary.
  3. Follow your manufacturer’s recommended coolant change interval, typically every 2-5 years, depending on the coolant type.
  4. Keep an eye out for leaks in your cooling system, and address them promptly.


Understanding how to choose the right coolant for your car is essential for maintaining a healthy engine and preventing costly repairs. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure you’re using the correct coolant for your vehicle and prolong its life. Stay cool, and happy driving!


Can I use water instead of coolant?

While water can provide some temporary cooling, it’s not a suitable long-term solution. It lacks the necessary corrosion inhibitors and freeze protection properties found in coolants.

How often should I check my coolant level?

It’s a good idea to check your coolant level at least once a month and before long trips.

How do I know when it’s time to change my coolant?

Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended coolant change interval. Generally, it’s every 2-5 years, depending on the type of coolant used. Additionally, if your coolant appears dirty, contaminated, or has an off smell, it’s time for a change.

Can I mix different coolant colors?

A: Mixing different coolant colors is not recommended, as it can lead to reduced corrosion protection and potential engine damage. Always use the type of coolant specified in your owner’s manual.

What happens if I use the wrong coolant in my car?

A: Using the wrong coolant can cause various issues, including reduced cooling efficiency, increased risk of engine damage, and potential breakdown of your cooling system components. Always use the recommended coolant type for your vehicle to avoid these problems.

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