The best car antifreeze
There are a number of areas that you need to monitor to make sure your vehicle continues to function as it should. Maintaining the proper amount of antifreeze is one that many individuals unfortunately neglect. It won't take long to ruin your engine if you operate your car without it.
Finding an antifreeze that's right for your specific vehicle and driving conditions is important. This concise guide can give you the information you need and makes a few recommendations, including our top choice, Engine Ice, a high-performance product that offers protection from -26ºF to 256ºF and is formulated to be nontoxic.
Considerations when choosing car antifreeze
Following are the key factors you will need to consider before purchasing antifreeze.
Premixed vs. concentrate
Antifreeze that is sold as premixed usually has a 50/50 ratio of water to antifreeze (this is also known as coolant) and offers good year-round protection. In some colder climates, a mixture of 40/60 will be more effective, while in milder climates, you may be able to use a 70/30 ratio of water to antifreeze. If you plan on using a ratio other than 50/50, consider purchasing a concentrate so you can more easily customize that ratio.
The whole reason for using antifreeze is to keep your car safe when operating at lower (and higher) temperatures. Always check the temperature rating before purchasing to determine if it's the right choice for your particular climate.
For individuals owning vehicles that have specific needs, you must reference your owner's manual to determine which antifreeze you need to purchase. This will make your purchasing process easier because it will narrow your options.
Different types of car antifreeze may include different additives. These additives are often used to protect and lubricate the working parts of your vehicle. Unfortunately, the manufacturer might not always list the specific additives, but how they benefit the vehicle will be emblazoned on the label.
Because of its toxicity, you will want to purchase an antifreeze with a childproof cap. Additionally, some brands add a bittering agent to further ensure that accidental ingestion never happens.
Antifreeze is inherently clear, however, dyes are added to give it color. In general, green distinguishes the antifreeze as using phosphates or silicates to help protect your engine while orange does not. There are a number of other colors, which range from pink to blue, as well. Although many individuals think it is best to purchase by color -- and that will work when simply topping off your antifreeze -- a similar color does not necessarily mean the same type of antifreeze. When in doubt, check your owner's manual to determine the precise type of antifreeze you need, then read the product's label to make sure it's a good match.
The average price range for antifreeze is between $15 and $25 per gallon, with the higher-end brands typically being better suited for more extreme temperatures. For certain vehicle-specific antifreeze, however, you may need to spend $30 or more per gallon.
Q. What is antifreeze?
A. Antifreeze is a liquid that is added to your radiator to help keep water inside it from freezing when the temperatures get cold. Additionally, antifreeze raises the boiling point of water to help keep your car from overheating in the hotter months. Lastly, antifreeze can serve as a lubricant for any moving parts of your vehicle that it comes into contact with.
Q. Is antifreeze poisonous?
A. Yes. Antifreeze is highly toxic. Less than three ounces is all it takes to be lethal to adults. Because of this, antifreeze must be stored in a childproof container that is kept well out of reach of kids.
Q. How often do I need to check the coolant level in my car?
A. Although you can get by with checking your levels twice each year -- before summer and before winter -- it's best to get into the habit of checking coolant levels at each oil change. As far as flushing and filling your radiator, read your owner's manual to determine when that maintenance is required.
Car antifreeze we recommend
Best of the best: Engine Ice's High-Performance Coolant
Our take: A high-performance premixed coolant that is designed to be nontoxic.
What we like: This coolant is engineered to be phosphate-free and biodegradable. It offers protection ranging from -26ºF to 256ºF. Additionally, this product is formulated to be safe for most metals, including aluminum.
What we dislike: The price is considerably more than the other choices in our shortlist.
Best bang for your buck: OEM's Premium Antifreeze
Our take: An affordable, premixed antifreeze that is designed for newer-model foreign cars.
What we like: A low silicate OAT antifreeze that is nitrate-, amine-, and phosphate-free. Can offer up to five years of protection, and it is recommended for use with Audi, VW, and Porsche vehicles.
What we dislike: Has limited application. Check your owner's manual to be certain that this antifreeze is right for your vehicle.
Choice 3: Mopar's Premixed Coolant
Our take: A reasonably priced premixed OAT coolant.
What we like: This highly rated OAT coolant has an impressive longevity, promising 10 years or 150,000 miles. Contains a bittering agent to help deter accidental ingestion.
What we dislike: As with the other items in our shortlist, this coolant is for use in specific vehicles, so make sure it is what you need before purchasing.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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