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Coolant, antifreeze, radiator antifreeze - all the same?

You need help in choosing the correct coolant?

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The (water) cooling circuit in the car is of central importance for the function of the vehicle, so that the coolant plays a central role alongside the other operating fluids such as engine oil, brake fluid, etc.

But what is the difference between coolant and antifreeze? Is it all the same?

We will explain it to you:

The fluid that performs the function of heat transport and at the same time protects against corrosion and frost in your vehicle's cooling circuit is correctly called coolant.

Is there a difference between coolant and antifreeze?

The answer is yes. It is simpler than you might think. While coolant is called the finished liquid that works in the cooling circuit, coolant in the true sense of the word is the component of the coolant that adds the important functions of protection against freezing, rust and boiling to conventional water. A mixture of antifreeze and water thus produces the finished coolant.

Antifreeze is offered either as a concentrate - these are used exactly as just explained - and as a finished mixture "Ready Mix", "Premix" or "ready to use". These are coolants that are ready to be filled directly into the radiator and do not need to be mixed with water.

Find the right antifreeze for every vehicle in the ATO24 Online Shop! What are the differences?

As a rule of thumb, coolants are often distinguished by their color and selected for use. This procedure does not always lead to the wrong result, but it is not technically correct and may well lead to you choosing the wrong antifreeze for your vehicle.

The wrong antifreeze selected. What are the consequences?

The consequences of the wrong antifreeze in the cooling circuit of your car are difficult to estimate, but can be negative or even fatal. Since antifreeze of different specifications differ in their chemical composition and mixing different combinations can lead to unwanted reactions of the fluids, you should follow a systematic and correct procedure when choosing your antifreeze. Far from it, the different operating regulations are adapted to the engine requirements because, regardless of the mixing of different antifreeze, engines have different demands on the chemical properties of a coolant.

The right choice: Buy antifreeze to specification!

We have found that it is essential to choose an antifreeze according to the correct specification provided by the vehicle manufacturer and not to rely on inaccurate distinguishing features, such as color in particular.

How do I choose the right antifreeze for my car?

Similar to the operating regulations for engine oils, vehicle manufacturers have in the past introduced a number of manufacturer-specific but also cross-manufacturer specifications that you can use as a guide. To find out which coolant specification is required for use in your vehicle, please refer to your vehicle manual. In addition, the ATO24 team offers free expert advice if you are not sure which coolant to use. Just contact us via the indicated ways.

The probably most common coolant specifications are the G-standards. These were developed independently by the car manufacturer Volkswagen and the chemical company BASF. Some standards are identical, others have no equivalent in the other system. The VW coolant specifications range from G11 to G12, G12+ and G12++ to G13. BASF, the manufacturer of the well-known Glysantin antifreeze, leads its classification as follows:

  • Glysantin G48 (corresponds to VW G11)
  • Glysantin G30 (corresponds to VW G12+)
  • Glynsatin G40 (corresponds to VW G12++)
  • Glysantin G05 (particularly suitable for many cast iron engines)
  • Glysantin G33 (suitable for most Peugeot and Citroen vehicles)
  • Glysantin G34 (product for many GM and Opel vehicles)

A large number of vehicle manufacturers orient themselves to these specifications. If you cannot find any of these specifications in your vehicle manual, you may find one of the manufacturer's internal regulations there:

Some manufacturers prescribe an explicit product for use in their vehicles. In manuals of Renault vehicles you will often find the reference to Renault Glaceol RX Type D. In addition to the designation, manufacturers often include part numbers that refer to explicit OEM products, such as

Other manufacturers also refer to a certain chemical composition of the coolant, which must be observed. Coolants are often classified in the following gradations:

  • free from nitrite, amine, phosphate
  • free from amine, phosphate, borate, silicate
  • free from amine, phosphate, borate, 2-ethylhexanoic acid

The car manufacturer Opel often prescribes the use of a so-called low-hybrid "Lobrid" coolant for modern vehicles.

You can read much more about the topic coolant, for example an answer to the question how to mix coolant correctly and which water to use for this, in our ATO24 blog article about coolants.