Water is a popular choice for a coolant among car owners. Using water instead of coolant can have several advantages as it is cheap, readily available, and many people believe that it does the same job as antifreeze. However, using water in your car’s engine can have serious consequences.
This article will discuss the purpose of antifreeze in cars and why you should never use water as a coolant. We’ll also look at the pros and cons of using water as a coolant to help you make an informed decision about what’s best for your vehicle.
Table of Contents
How Does Coolant Work in the Cooling System?
Coolant is a specially formulated mix of distilled water and antifreeze that helps keep your engine running at the right temperature. The job of the coolant mixture is to start moving from the coolant tank and absorb heat from the engine, then release it into the air as the car drives. If the engine gets too hot, it can cause serious damage, so keeping the coolant topped up is essential.
Once water and antifreeze are mixed, they form an ethylene glycol solution that prevents water from freezing in low temperatures or boiling in high temperatures. The water component also helps keep the engine clean and free from rust, while the antifreeze protects it against corrosion.
The coolant work in a similar way to the engine oil by absorbing and distributing generated heat through a closed circuit. The difference between the engine oil and the coolant is that while the engine oil lubricates, the coolant absorbs heat from all internal components, goes through the heater core, and dissipates that heat into the air via the car radiator.
Coolant has many responsibilities: it can cool down the metal parts of your engine; it can extinguish the possible fire (in case of overheating); and perhaps most important, maintain a certain level of corrosion protection against rust and cracks.
Can I use regular water instead of engine coolant in my car?
No. Regular water or even distilled water will cause the engine to overheat. You might end up with a cracked engine block due to thermal expansion. When a car’s engine is hot, the water inside it is also hot, and so the water expands as it warms up. If you put regular water in an overheated vehicle, this rapid increase in volume could cause the cylinder head or the engine block to crack.
Without antifreeze, water passing through your engine’s cooling system will quickly turn to ice when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Using tap water instead of coolant can cause severe damage to your car’s engine if it starts up again. Rubber hoses will become brittle and crack without coolant fluid, causing fluid leakage. This can cause the engine to overheat, resulting in catastrophic engine damage.
Pros of using water as coolant
It is cheap and readily available.
It is non-toxic to humans and pets.
It is an effective heat conductor and can help keep your engine running at the right temperature.
There is no need for a warm-up. The vehicle’s engine is instantly ready for work.
No need to open the radiator cap while flushing because there will be no pressure in the system.
There are no extra chemicals to buy.
Cons of using water instead of coolant
It’s corrosive to metals that have direct contact with it.
It’s hard on the seals of the water pump and radiator.
Water can freeze and cause serious damage to your engine. On the other hand, Antifreeze contains additives that prevent water from freezing and keep your engine running smoothly in cold weather conditions.
Water is not suitable as a coolant as it boils rapidly under pressure. Antifreeze has a lower boiling point than water in liquid form, stopping water from overheating in high temperatures. If water were to boil over, it could damage your car’s cooling system and engine.
It contains minerals that might be lifted by the action of centrifugal force from circulation inside the engine, possibly resulting in engine damage.
Are coolant and antifreeze the same?
No, they are not the same. Coolant is a water-based liquid that helps keep your engine from overheating by transferring heat away from the engine. Antifreeze is a water-based liquid that helps protect your engine from damage caused by freezing temperatures. It also lowers the freezing point of water so that water will not freeze in your engine’s cooling system.
Coolant and antifreeze are water-based liquids that help your car engine run smoothly. Antifreeze is a specific type of coolant that contains additives to protect your engine against freezing and rust formation. Coolant helps keep your engine running at the right temperature, while antifreeze protects it against extreme cold weather conditions. When used together, they can protect the engine from both overheating and freezing.
What are the different types of antifreeze?
There are two main types of antifreeze:
1. Ethylene glycol
Ethylene glycol is only used for radiator antifreeze due to its toxicity. Ethylene glycol-based antifreeze has been used since the early 1920s when it was discovered by a scientist experimenting with antifreeze. It works better in cold weather and increases the fluid’s boiling point, making it an ideal choice for use in cars and other vehicles. It’s a great radiator additive but is a serious danger to both humans and animals when ingested.
2. Propylene glycol
Propylene glycol is often found in food, cosmetics, and medications. Antifreeze made with propylene glycol is non-toxic and is a much better option for homeowners who keep pets or want to use the antifreeze in their sinks, toilets, or other areas where water may contact children, adults, animals, or the environment.
Why is coolant important?
Engine coolant protects your car and keeps it in good condition. Regular changes to your car’s coolant ensure protection against severe engine damage. It also prevents freezing during the winter.
Your car’s engine is very hot. If you open the bonnet when the engine is still running, you’ll see that it’s actually even hotter under there! All this heat can be damaging to your vehicle and must be dissipated in some way. This is where coolant comes in handy. It removes the excess heat from the engine and prevents your car’s engine from overheating.
Your engine might overheat if the coolant level is too low and the radiator isn’t doing its job properly. If this happens, it can lead to serious damage to your engine, which will be very costly to repair.
Engine coolant also helps protect other components in your car that could be affected by rust or corrosion. The heat from the engine can lead to rust, and your coolant helps prevent this.
How to check your radiator fluids?
Radiator fluid cools the water that flows through your engine. If it is not working properly it can cause your car to overheat. When checking radiator fluids, you need two things: A clean container and a tinge of auto knowledge. I’m going to show you how to do this in three easy steps.
Park your car on a flat surface, turn it off, and open the hood. Some people like to raise their cars on the ramps for this job, but it is not necessary. Make sure you have enough room around your radiator so that you can get to all sides of it.
Locate the coolant reservoir cap and coolant tank. If you’re not sure which one is for the radiator, check your owner’s manual or ask someone who works at a parts store. Each cap will be labeled “Radiator.”
Remove the radiator fluid cap and wipe away any dirt or debris that may have accumulated around it. Slowly pour your radiator fluid into a clean container until it reaches the bottom of the threads. The liquid level should be between “Full” and “Low.”
There you have it! You now know how to check the radiator fluid level in your car and what to do if you need to add more. Be sure to keep a close eye on your fluids, especially during extreme weather conditions, and remember that using water as a coolant is never a good idea.
Always use antifreeze as a coolant in your car engine to protect against freezing and corrosion. Antifreeze contains additives that prevent water from freezing and keep your engine running smoothly in cold weather conditions. Water is not an effective coolant for cars and can cause serious damage to your engine if it freezes. Use water at your own risk.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to safely dispose of Coolant?
The best way to dispose of coolant is to take it to a hazardous waste facility. If there isn’t one available in your area, you can pour it down a drain that leads to a water treatment plant. Do not pour coolant down the storm drain, contaminating groundwater and local waterways.
Will a car overheat with just water?
A car will not overheat if you use water instead of coolant, but it is not recommended to use water as a coolant because it can freeze and cause serious damage to your engine. Antifreeze has a lower boiling point than water, so it stops water from overheating in high temperatures. If water were to boil over, it could damage your car’s cooling system and engine.
What happens if there is no antifreeze in the car?
If you don’t have any antifreeze in your car, the water will start to freeze. When water freezes, it expands and can cause damage to your engine. The water can also lower the freezing point of the engine oil, which can lead to the oil gelling up and not being able to lubricate the parts of the engine like cylinder heads. This can cause the engine to seize up and stop working.