Neglect Causes Most Coolant System Problems

Using A Good Coolant On A Routine Schedule Is A Great Prescription For Protection

Mark Nyholm | TECHNICAL MANAGER, HEAVY DUTY AND MECHANICAL R&D

Coolant-system issues account for about 40 percent of engine problems, likely due to most of us neglecting to maintain our coolant. It’s easy to see why – coolant is a long-drain-interval product. With service intervals of five years or so (and longer in heavy-duty applications), it’s not top-of-mind. Compare that to engine oil, which you change at least yearly and sometimes more often.

Coolant consists of a base (typically ethylene glycol or propylene glycol) mixed with additives and water. The base is primarily responsible for keeping your engine from turning into a block of ice in winter and Old Faithful in summer. The additives guard against corrosion, cavitation and scaling. And the water does a good job removing heat from the engine.

Neglect leads to all kinds of problems, particularly if using inexpensive conventional green coolants found at almost every retailer.

The additives in these coolants use inorganic-acid technology (IAT), which relies exclusively on inorganic salts such as nitrites, phosphates and silicates for protection. Formulating exclusively with inorganic salts has drawbacks. They deplete rather quickly and can lead to scale buildup and sludge if maintenance is neglected.

One solution is to formulate the coolant using organic-acid technology (OAT). These coolants don’t contain phosphates, silicates and other inorganic salts, virtually eliminating problems associated with conventional green coolants. They also last longer, which makes everyone happier.

Finally, we have hybrid organic acid technology (HOAT). These coolants rely heavily on organic acids, but strategically use some inorganic salts to take advantage of their protective properties. A properly formulated HOAT coolant delivers long service life and excellent protection Think of it as a belt-and-suspenders approach to protection.

Whichever coolant you use, it’s best to flush the system about every five years to maintain its health.

Some do-it-yourselfers simply place a drain pan under the radiator and open the petcock. While it’s better than nothing, this quick-and-dirty coolant service only removes about half the fluid.

Heavy-duty diesel operators often use supplemental coolant additives (SCAs). They’re designed to be added to the coolant about halfway through the service interval, replenishing the additives that have depleted.

That sounds like a decent solution, but SCAs have drawbacks. For starters, they’re a hassle. The operator has to test the coolant using test strips and match the color of the strip to a chart. Hopefully he’s had his eyes checked recently and can correctly match the colors. If not, he risks adding too much SCA, which can cause additive “dropout.” This occurs when the additives separate from the coolant base and form sludge and slime that plug coolant passages. Too much SCA can also lead to scale buildup, which inhibits heat-transfer.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. You can use a high-quality coolant that doesn’t require the hassle of SCAs and that does a better job fighting common problems like scale, sludge and slime.

At AMSOIL, we have such a coolant: Heavy-Duty Antifreeze & Coolant (ANTHD). It offers a recently improved HOAT formulation that delivers excellent protection against overheating and corrosion for up to 1 million miles (1,609,344 km), 20,000 hours or 8 years, whichever comes first. And it doesn’t require the hassle of adding an SCA.

For passenger car/light truck owners, we have AMSOIL Passenger Car & Light Truck Antifreeze & Coolant (ANTPC). It features an improved OAT formulation that eliminates additive drop-out, scaling and other issues inherent to conventional coolants. It’s pre-mixed 50/50 with high- quality water and is compatible with all ethylene and propylene coolant colors.

For those who want a low-toxicity, biodegradable coolant, we offer AMSOIL Low Toxicity Antifreeze & Engine Coolant (ANT). Its new HOAT formulation delivers excellent protection for up to 150,000 miles (241,000 km) or 5 years, whichever comes first, in passenger cars and liqht trucks. In heavy-duty applications, it lasts 1 million miles (1,609,344 km), 20,000 hours or 8 years, whichever comes first. It’s compatible with all ethylene and propylene coolant colors.

This summer is a great time to flush your coolant system if it’s been awhile and give your engine a fresh start with one of our reformulated coolants.

Reproduced With The Permission Of AMSOIL INC. All Rights Reserved.

*All trademarked names and images are the property of their respective owners and may be registered marks in some countries. No affiliation or endorsement claim, express or implied, is made by their use. All products advertised here are developed by AMSOIL for the use in the application shown.

SLS Note: At the time I am putting this page together (Mid May 2020), the on line G3347 (8/15) Product Data Sheet for the ANTHD & ANTPC has not yet been updated to reflect the specifications of the new formulation. The updated Product Data Sheet should be on line by the time this is published or shortly after.

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