The purpose of the Sideco Blog is to provide you with practical information that can help you save money by making well informed decisions in regard to maintaining and improving what is probably your largest investment. We will be adding new topics on a regular basis and archiving each article so you can come back to them at any time. These are not intended to be detailed 'how to' instructions for the do it yourselfer, but rather answers to the questions that the responsible and conscientious homeowner faces every day, month and year.
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For most of us, a car is our largest investment except for our house. Unfortunately, many people don't really know how to best protect their investment. Antifreeze is an essential component of the cooling system, but it does so much more than simply keeping your engine from freezing during cold winter days. Modern antifreeze products, like most things, is vastly improved but it doesn't last forever. In this short article, we're going to tell you everything you need to know about antifreeze and how to protect your car's cooling system and keep your car in great running shape.
Originally, the sole purpose of antifreeze was exactly what its name implies, to keep the water in the engine from freezing. By using a proper mix of chemicals, the point where water freezes can be lowered, thus protecting the engine during cold periods.
Those over 60 can easily remember a time when any smart traveler had several gallons of water in the trunk for the frequent times when the engine overheated and much of the radiator emptied in the form of steam. Water boils and turns to steam at 212 degrees. Modern antifreeze in combination with pressurized coolant systems and advanced radiators make overheating virtually a thing of the past by raising the boiling point to over 260 degrees.
The water is circulated throughout the engine by the water pump and then it travels through the tiny fins of the radiator where blowing air cools it rapicly so it can return to the engine to dissapate even more heat and the cycle begins again. The antifreeze provides essential lubrication for the water pump. Even if freezing and overheating weren't a problem, without antifreeze the water pump would soon wear out and fail.
In order to cool effectively, the water must travel through the radiator. It must pass through tiny holes and fins so it can obtain maximum exposure to the cooling air. The metal compounds in the radiator are formulated to transfer heat effeciently. One of the most important functions of antifreeze is to prevent rust and corrosion in the radiator. This would clog the circulation and eventually rust through the thin metal and leak.
Not all radiators are made of the same materials, so it is important to use the right antifreeze for your particular car. Basically, the compounds that prevent the water from freezing will never wear out, however, the lubricants and rust prevention properties will. For this reason, it is essential that your radiator be drained and new antifreeze put in. The very newest products can last up to 5 years, but older antifreeze would not last nearly as long. If you don't know when yours was changed, go do it now! Replacing an entire cooling system can be quite expensive compared to the cost of some antifreeze. One last thing, don't but cheap antifreeze. I suggest Peak or Prestone. Every auto parts store has their own brand and it's a little cheaper, but insist on the best. All of them will keep the water from freezing, but we now know it does many other critical things, as well.
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