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AMSOIL TECH BLOG

10/01/2014

Much Like Lubricants, However, Coolants Aren't As Simple As They Appear

Motor oil has been a big focus for AMSOIL over the years and this will continue. We spend a lot of time talking about the differences in motor oil designs and quality because it has a major impact on vehicle performance and longevity. We have not focused very often on the other side of the engine block, but it is an important component of overall vehicle maintenance. In the mid-80s, many preventable engine failures were caused directly by problems with the cooling system - up to 50 percent according to some heavy-duty sources. Today, this number has been reduced significantly with the use of fully formulated coolants, but cooling systems continue to be a big source of maintenance problems.

There are some basic jobs that a coolant has to perform, just like motor oil, or engine life is significantly reduced. The main job of the coolant is to keep the engine cool. Many systems also use coolant to reduce the temperature of transmission fluid. In heavy-duty applications coolants are used in liquid-cooled brakes and to cool gases in exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems. Regardless of the component, the main job of coolants is to transfer heat.

Seems pretty simple, so why don't we just use water alone? It's cheap, readily available and does a good job transferring heat. Seems like a good idea, but straight water contributes to excessive corrosion in engines and contributes to cavitation issues, erosive wear and failures. Additionally, water has a nasty tendency to freeze below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it hard to use during winter in northern climates.

Unless you use purified water, there are a bunch of dissolved solids in most water that produce scale on hot surfaces, resulting in cooling system failures. Water also wants to boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit so without modification, you will have a tendency to create steam and boil over the cooling system. Modern coolant designs address all the issues outlined above and more. A coolant is typically a mix of either ethylene glycol (EG), propylene glycol (PG) or glycerin, additives and water. You can think of the EG or PG as the functional base fluid. The main job of this component is to keep the coolant from freezing and boiling over in use. The additives are used to control pH and foaming, protect metal surfaces and neutralize acids produced as coolants age. Water is used as a medium for heat transfer as it does an excellent job in this area.

Like lubricants, there are a number of different designs and quality levels of coolants on the market. There also are a number of different terms used to describe coolant additive technologies, such as conventional, fully formulated, OAT, HOAT, NAPS and so on. These general terms attempt to classify different ways to provide the chemistries used to perform the additive jobs described above. The important thing to remember is to use the coolant type required by the vehicle and be careful when mixing fluids.

There are a couple key things to keep in mind in caring for your coolant and coolant system. The first is the source of water you use to mix the coolant. Poor-quality water contributes to corrosion, scale and build-up of dissolved solids in the cooling system. All of these create major issues regardless of the type or quality of coolant used in the system. You can quickly ruin an expensive coolant with poor-quality water.

Another key maintenance item is to simply check your coolant level regularly. If your coolant falls below the critical level, heat will build up quickly and expand critical engine parts, including the block housing the pistons. As this area expands, metal parts come in closer contact, resulting in excessive wear and creating permanent damage to your engine. Check the level and fix leaks promptly.

The final thing you can do is change your coolant when you see signs of issues. Small changes in color are not indicators of coolant condition, but if it appears to contain particles the system needs to be cleaned and the coolant should be changed. If there is a significant abnormal odor when checking your coolant, the system should be inspected and coolant changed. If you suspect an issue when checking the level, Oil Analyzers has a coolant analysis service that can help diagnose issues and help find the source of the problem.

Light- and heavy-duty vehicle designs are changing faster than ever. Powersports applications are also evolving and moving toward liquid cooling for many applications. Most of the design changes are placing increasingly more stress on both motor oils and coolants. AMSOIL is closely watching and testing to ensure our products and recommendations are compatible with this quickly changing environment.

AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil and Lubricants in Johnson City

SYNZILLA.com LLC is a large nationwide Dealer of AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants and is now expanding into your area and surrounding states. If you have a business or are an individual with several vehicles, AMSOIL has several options available that may allow you to purchase AMSOIL products at wholesale prices. We can show you how to save money and extend equipment life with AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils, Lubricants, Filters and Fuel Additives. Please visit the AMSOIL Online Store for more information about AMSOIL Products.

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