July 12, 2024

What is antifreeze used for in cars – All you need to know about engine coolant

Owning a car is exciting. You know that comfortable rides are guaranteed by your “best buddy”, but the scenario might change in case you don’t take care of it. Besides its exciting side, automobiles require to be looked after, which determines the reliability or longevity of a vehicle. One of the main things while talking about vehicles is the coolant engine, which might affect many parts. Below we’ll discuss what is antifreeze coolant used in cars, how frequently should it be changed, and how you can do it by yourself. We’ll also review the differences between available types of antifreeze. Shortly, we’ll explore all the needed details related to the coolant engine. 

What is antifreeze coolant used for in cars? 

Antifreeze or Coolant? First of all, before going into details about what is coolant used for in cars, we should determine the terminology. Usually, antifreeze is referred to as a coolant as well, but there is a difference between them. Coolant means the mixture that’s ready to use for a vehicle. It contains water and antifreeze itself. The term antifreeze refers to any chemical substance for lowering the freezing point of water. Antifreeze is used in vehicles for maintaining an even temperature, upon the outside changes from hot to cold. Besides, it prevents freezing of water in the automobiles’ cooling system and raises the boiling point to prevent overheating. And last but not least, it protects the engine from corrosion. So, since we already know what’s the difference between those two terms, let’s move on and explore further details about antifreeze.

General description of antifreeze 

Ingredients – You might wonder what ingredients include this unique liquid and how it manages to maintain temperature under changing conditions. It includes propylene or ethylene glycol, and additionally may include silicates, nitrates, azoles, or borates for avoiding corrosion in an automobile. 

Color – The mixture can be pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, or red. 

Mixing – As usually antifreeze is not used directly without pre-mixing with water. To answer, what is antifreeze used for in cars, we should take into account that some of them are already pre-mixed and don’t need additional water. For that reason, you should always read the label carefully before use. If the antifreeze isn’t pre-mixed, you should use the same amount of antifreeze and water for the mixture (50/50 antifreeze and water).

What is coolant used for in cars – different types, different approaches?

Now, since we already have some point of view about the antifreeze mixture, its purpose, ingredients, and mixing details, let’s dive in a bit deeper and explore its types.  Did you know that there are three main types of what is antifreeze coolant used for in cars? 

  1. Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT) – Usually that type of coolant was used for older cars in the past. As a rule, typically the antifreeze is blue, green, or yellow. It should be changed after covering every 24,000 miles, or in two years. 
  2. Organic Acid Technology (OAT) – This type of antifreeze is mainly used in Europe and should be changed much rarely than the previous (IAT) type. It should be changed after every 50,000 miles, or approximately every 5 years. 
  3. Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) – Sometimes this type of antifreeze is referred to as the global combination of (IAT) and (OAT). This likewise to previous (OAT) needs to be changed every 50,000 miles, or every 5 years. This type of antifreeze is used mostly for newer cars, released since 2002. 

Besides, it’s notable that you shouldn’t mix different types of antifreeze on your car. For instance, mixing OAT and HOAT, or IAT antifreeze can cause damage to some parts. Generally, each manufacturer produces its own branded antifreeze. It’s best to use the antifreeze specifically for your automobile model. For instance, if you own a Hyundai Elantra, you should use Prestone coolant. There are many manufacturers of the coolant mixture as well, each of them produces mixtures specifically for different types of automobiles. Hence, before using the mixture, always read carefully what is coolant used for in cars, whether it works on your model or not. 

Exploring what is antifreeze used for in cars and how to do it

I guess we are ready to move on to the practical part of what is antifreeze used for in cars. Before explaining how to change it by yourself, be aware that antifreeze should be checked at least twice a year. It’s crucial to check whether there is enough liquid before the summer heat and before the winter cold. It should be topped up whenever the antifreeze level drops below the guide marks. But, in the case of replacing the antifreeze, you should refer to the car manufacturer, as it varies depending on the brand. 

What is antifreeze coolant used for in cars and how to change it?

  1. First of all, we should find the reservoir where the liquid is kept. As a rule, older automobiles don’t have a coolant reservoir and in that case, the antifreeze goes into the radiator. If you find it hard to find the exact location, you should review the vehicle’s owner’s manual. 
  2. Once you find the coolant reservoir, it’s time to check whether it should be filled or not. For checking the level of antifreeze, the automobile should be parked on a flat surface and the engine should be cool. For checking the level, you should see a clear plastic tank with a fill line clearly marked on it. If the level is lowered, you can top it off. 
  3. After this read carefully the label of the antifreeze, to determine whether it needs mixing or not. Most antifreeze is pre-mixed with the water, but if it’s not, then you should do it. 
  4. Once the coolant mixture is ready, you can add the mixture until it reaches the fill line on the outside of the tank. Don’t forget to secure the cap tightly. That’s it! Isn’t it easy? 

After reading all the above-mentioned, I’m sure you know what is coolant used for in cars and ready to change it by yourself!


All in all, we’ve covered many interesting topics related to antifreeze. Now we know what the difference is between coolant and antifreeze, what is antifreeze used for in cars, why it’s so important. Besides, we’ve discussed different types of it and explored how to change it by ourselves, without visiting the service center. I’m sure the above-mentioned information will help you to lengthen the longevity of your “best buddy”.