How to Choose Right Antifreeze For Your Vehicle

How to Choose Right Antifreeze For Your Vehicle image

Antifreeze/coolant concentrate is a liquid filled in the car engine cooling system for its protection from corrosion. It is important to choose the right one exactly for your vehicle.

The functionality of modern automobile antifreezes includes removing heat from the engine and the automatic transmission, interior heating in cold seasons, and anti-corrosion protection of the cooling system, – this is the basic function affecting the price, Liqui Moly reports.

Antifreezes differ from one another by anti-corrosion additives they use. Those additives differ by the ways of anti-corrosion protection, compatibility with materials, and service life.

Therefore, each antifreeze/coolant can be used in vehicles of certain brands and in certain conditions. The difference in additives directly affects compatibility.

Why choosing cheap antifreeze is a bad idea?

The vast majority of antifreezes do a good job of removing heat from the engine and automatic transmission. So why not choose the cheapest antifreeze?

As mentioned above, one of the basic functions of antifreeze is to protect the cooling system from corrosion. Special expensive additive packages are responsible for this. For this reason, it is the quality and quantity of additives that directly affect the final cost of antifreeze.

Be very careful when selecting a brand of antifreeze. In addition to the required specification, pay attention to the price. This is the case when it is not worth saving by choosing the cheapest product. It is better to select antifreeze of only the brands you know and trust.

Criteria of choice

Antifreezes can be classified according to several criteria. Consumers themselves most often distinguish them by color, but the choice of color does not say anything about quality. They differ in anti-corrosion additives and are unique for almost every car manufacturer, have regional characteristics and different colors.

Phosphate-doped antifreezes are common in the United States but not used in Europe. In Japan, hybrid antifreezes with phosphates and carboxylic acids are used.

Each antifreeze is formulated and tested over the years, taking into account the materials used in a particular cooling system, as each automaker has its own component suppliers.


Depending on the additive package, antifreezes for vehicles can be of three types: inorganic, organic and lobrid.

Inorganic (first-generation hybrid) antifreezes are often called silicate because of their silicate content. They can be green, blue-green or yellow. Greens and blue-greens are one of the first to come into being; they have gone through the entire process of evolution. There are North American and European silicate antifreezes.

The North American ones have phosphates in their content. There is a separate subgroup of antifreezes with a reduced silicate content called Low Silicate Formula.

The European antifreezes come without phosphates (prohibited). Amines and some types of nitrites are also absent. Over the past ten years, the silicate content of most Europe-made antifreezes has decreased, so they are analogous to the American Low Silicate Formula.

The silicate-type antifreeze label bears the G11 or G48 mark.

Organic antifreezes use carboxylated organic acids as the main corrosion inhibitor. They differ in composition and color:

1. G12, G12 + and G30 (VW), G33 (PSA) and G34 (GM) are colored orange, red or pink. The composition is almost identical, and also similar to Texaco Havoline Extended Life, DexCool and Shell ELC antifreezes. The main feature is presence of two or more types of carboxylate acids excluding silicates, phosphates, borates, nitrates, amines and nitrites.

2. Honda Genuine Coolant Type 2 (blue) and Toyota Long Life Coolant (red) contain one type of carboxylate acid and phosphates. Another type of carboxylate acid is not used due to the negative effect on some of the engine gaskets.

Lobrids (G40). One type of carboxylate acid is used (the same as in the Honda Type 2 or Toyota LFC) and a small amount of silicates. Phosphate-free as described. In fact, they are present in small quantities. Antifreeze colors are different: yellow, green or orange. Liqui Moly Kuhlerfrostschutz KFS 12 ++ corresponds to this class of antifreeze. There are many nuances here: which car manufacturer is used, which model and even the filling (conveyor or service).

All three groups also contain some other corrosion inhibitors and additives.

What antifreeze should I use in my car?

Don’t choose antifreeze just by color! The possibility of error is very high!

The class of antifreeze is included in the operation manual for your vehicle and enters the selection programs. Therefore, do not pay attention to the color of the antifreeze.

It is recommended to select antifreeze only in accordance with the requirements of the car manufacturer!

Need to top up. How not to be mistaken?

If you do not know or do not remember what kind of antifreeze is poured into the car, we advise you to completely replace the contents of the cooling system with flushing with the type of antifreeze recommended by the automaker, record or remember its type and then add only it as necessary. Distilled water can be used when topping up a small amount of antifreeze.

If a slight topping up is required, but a suitable antifreeze is not available, then distilled water is topped up. It compensates for the loss of liquid volume from evaporation.

What happens if you mix several different antifreezes?

Most car owners are unaware of the difference between antifreezes and are guided by color: red to red, green to green, and so on. It is unacceptable. It is important to understand that the color of antifreeze is determined by the dye added during production. Therefore, the color does not carry information about the working qualities and properties.

When mixing antifreezes of different manufacturers, even of the same color, negative reactions are possible.  One of the most dangerous and costly consequences is the loss of anti-corrosion properties. Different types of additives react unpredictably with each other.

Possible consequences of mixing antifreeze of different producers:

  • Corrosion of the cooling system (corroded channels, leakage of antifreeze into the combustion chambers, radiator leaks)
  • Softening of hoses and gaskets, leaks in the pipes
  • Formation of sediments and sludge, deterioration of heat transfer, engine overheating.
  • Blockage of the car heater

How to replace antifreeze correctly?

Don’t buy cheap antifreezes from unknown manufacturers!

If you notice that the antifreeze has started to go away, then you most likely have a leak in the system. In this situation, we advise you to locate the leak. If this is not a flexible hose, and the damage is less than 0.2 centimeters, don’t be discouraged – use a cooling system sealant. It is imperative to select a powder-free sealant that will not clog the channels, and the residues will merge with the antifreeze.

If you decide to replace the antifreeze in the cooling system, the recommended sequence of actions is as follows:

  • Use a cleaner (flush) of the cooling system before draining the antifreeze. This is an important step to remove scale and accumulated dirt from the cooling circuit
  • Drain antifreeze from a modern vehicle is a task for a professional. Quite often, there are no special drain plugs, usually located on the lower radiator tank and on the cylinder block. In this case, it is necessary to remove the lower radiator pipe and drain the antifreeze from it. Important: any antifreeze is poisonous to humans and extremely harmful if it gets into the soil or water bodies. Therefore, every effort should be made to collect and properly dispose of the old product
  • Antifreeze is poured directly into the radiator, through the plug, or, in the absence of a plug on the radiator, through the neck of the expansion tank

European regulations often recommend the use of water-soluble concentrates, but it should be remembered that European winters are mild. Diluting the European concentrate 1:1, you will receive frost protection at -36 °C. In colder climates, European concentrates must be diluted in an increased proportion. When diluting, it is advisable to use distilled water, but clean tap water is also allowed.

If flushing was used before replacing antifreeze, there is residual flushing water in the cooling system. First, it is necessary to fill in a pure concentrate based on the total volume of the system. That is, if the system has a total of 10 liters, fill in 5 liters of concentrate, and then top up with water until it is full. This will give you the correct concentration and pour point.


Do not select antifreeze by color! Be guided by the manufacturer’s specification. Try to avoid cheap antifreezes. Choose antifreeze of trusted manufacturers.

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