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The United States is known for extreme weather conditions, where excessive heat can strike anywhere and subzero conditions can reach all the way down to the Mason-Dixon line. In these conditions, it’s important to protect the water within any vehicle, so that it doesn’t freeze or boil. Antifreeze is a crucial component in this battle.



What Is Antifreeze?

Antifreeze is a liquid that helps to protect the vehicle’s operating system in particularly cold (or hot) environmental conditions. It is added to the cooling system to make sure that the water contained within the radiator and engine block does not solidify or evaporate if the temperature goes beyond a certain point. Modern-day antifreeze serves two purposes, insofar as it also helps to prevent an overheating engine by raising the boiling point of the modified fluid significantly. In addition, there are several other important additives, one of which is designed to prohibit corrosion, which would otherwise be a significant problem in the radiator.

How Does Antifreeze Work?

Scientists are still unsure how this solution is able to stop water from freezing, but it’s essentially based on a systemic reduction in the formation of ice crystals, using a chemical process known as “freezing point depression.” Particles within the solution, when dissolved, cause a reduction in the size of ice crystals and a drop in the water’s freezing point. Researchers do know how to create the product so that it performs perfectly, however, and recommend that a certain amount of antifreeze is added according to the volume of water within the system. Antifreeze should never be left within a vehicle indefinitely and should be replaced from time to time so that accumulated contaminants are eliminated.

How Is Antifreeze Made?

The primary component in antifreeze is a synthesized substance known as ethylene glycol, mixed with distilled water. A number of different solutions – including corrosion inhibitors – are added to the base mixture, as well as a dye that enables engineers to find the source of any leaks.

How Does Antifreeze Fail?

  • Incorrect concentration
  • Buildup of debris
  • Antifreeze leak
  • Overheating

What Are the Symptoms of Antifreeze Failure?

  • A significant buildup of rust
  • Water within the system that freezes or overheats
  • Failed thermostat

What Are the Consequences of Antifreeze Failure?

  • Engine damage
  • Radiator damage
  • Burst pipes

While water has many protective qualities, it’s not designed to work unaided in the harsh operating conditions found in a typical engine. Antifreeze has the dual ability to prevent excesses on both ends of the scale, but also has additives that can protect internal components and extend their normal use.

If you have questions or concerns about antifreeze or any of your vehicle’s components or fluids, come into your local Pep Boys where we can answer any question, help you find any part, or perform any vehicle service you might need.