Antifreeze: red, green, blue – what is the difference and which is better to pour?
High-quality antifreeze is the key to the trouble-free operation of the engine cooling system. Many people think that there are low requirements for antifreeze: as long as it does not freeze in winter and does not boil in summer. And in vain! In order not to, as they say, “catch a wedge” and not to spend money on replacing the failing pump or a leaky radiator, the choice of antifreeze must be taken seriously.
From this article you will learn about what is antifreeze and what it is needed for in a car. What are the types, classes and colors of car antifreeze? Which antifreeze is better: red, green or blue, and what is the difference between them?
For those readers who find it easier to perceive information by ear, we suggest watching the video at the very bottom of the page.
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In addition, we will give a lot of interesting facts about automotive coolants, their features and production technology.
Antifreeze – what is it?
Antifreeze is the international name for automotive coolants. In translation from the English word antifreeze means “not freezing”.
All antifreezes have a glycol base: ethylene glycol or propylene glycol, plus a package of enhancing additives.
Ethylene glycol is a bi-atomic alcohol. Pure ethylene glycol is an oily liquid, sweet-tasting, with a boiling point of about +200 °C and a freezing point of -12.3 °C. Ethylene glycol is a strong poison. Human lethal dose is only 200-300 grams (by the way, it is neutralized with ethyl alcohol).
The composition of the antifreeze concentrate is approximately as follows:
- 90% – ethylene glycol;
- 5-7% – additives;
- 3-5% – water.
Note that about 90 percent of all antifreeze concentrates consist of ethylene glycol and 3-5 percent of distilled water. That is, about 95 percent, all antifreeze is the same. It’s all about additives: these 5-7% determine whether your engine will run trouble-free, or whether you’ll be a favorite customer of the service station.
Let’s figure out what the difference is, but it won’t be easy to do. No other fluids used in a car are as confusing as the antifreeze classification. To date, there is no single standard to which all antifreeze fluids conform.
Each country makes coolants according to their national standards, often very outdated. Their most common versions are listed below:
- GOST 28084-89 (Russia)
- BS 6580: 1992 (UK)
- SAE J 1034 (USA)
- ASTM D 3306 (U.S.A.)
- ONORM V5123 (Austria)
- AFNOR NF R15-601 (France)
- CUNA NC956 16 (Italy)
- JIS K2234 (Japan)
- G-11 (Sweden)
What to do, you ask? How to understand all this sea of coolants?
Manufacturers of antifreeze found the way out. They took the classification, developed by concern VW for itself as a basis. Volkswagen divides all the antifreezes into three classes:
Let’s break it down in order.
Under the G11 class, antifreeze is produced using conventional technology. (also called silicate technology). Inorganic substances and their various combinations are used as corrosion protection additives in these antifreezes:
The silicate additives in G11 antifreeze coat the entire internal surface of the cooling system with a protective layer, similar to the scale on the walls of a kettle. This layer protects the system from damage. And this is good.
But it significantly reduces the heat dissipation process. And this is bad. In addition, this layer from the temperature drop and vibration over time begins to break down and crumble down. And this is also bad. It is for this reason you need to remember to change such antifreeze at least once every two years. But that’s not all, either. The pieces of the protective layer that have fallen down, are caught by the flow of the coolant and begin to work like an abrasive, destroying everything in its path.
What is the conclusion? Don’t use G11 antifreeze? Yes, you do! But don’t forget to change it every two years.
Antifreezes made with conventional technology (silicate), are marked on the cans with the following inscriptions:
- Traditional coolants
- Conventional coolants
- IAT (Inorganic Acid Technology)
However, sometimes you can find silicate coolants without a class designation on the package.
Antifreeze G12, G12+ and G12++
G12 antifreeze is the next step in the development of coolants. The manufacturers decided to eliminate the disadvantages of silicate technology, mastering the technology of organic acids.
Carboxylic acids are used in G12 antifreezes as corrosion additives. Hence the second name of these antifreezes – carboxylate. Their distinctive feature is the fact that carboxylate additives do not form protective layer over the whole surface of the cooling system, but begin to work only in the places of corrosion appearance and formation of protective layers no thicker than one micron.
All the disadvantages of silicate technology have become pluses here:
- Very high heat output.
- There is nothing to crumble and decay in the cooling system, so there is simply nothing to abrade from.
- Antifreeze service life is extended to 3-5 years. Moreover, five years – if you have washed and dried the system and filled in the factory-made antifreeze, and three years – if something from this list was violated and the concentrate was diluted by yourself.
But the G12 antifreezes also have disadvantages – the carboxylate additives begin to work only when the corrosion process began. That is, they start “treating” only when the “disease” has already manifested itself and nothing has been done to prevent it.
Carboxylate antifreeze is denoted as follows:
- Carboxilate coolants
- OAT (Organic Acid Technology)
To eliminate the basic flaw, coolant manufacturers took a half step back and combined silicate technology with carboxylate technology. This led to the development of the G12+ class of antifreeze (hybrid technology).
Hybrid antifreezes contain both organic (carboxylate) and inorganic additives. Europeans, for example, use silicates, Americans use nitrites and Japanese prefer phosphates.
G12+ antifreeze is denoted by the following terms:
- Hybrid coolants
- HOAT (Hybrid Organic Acid Technology)
Since 2008, there are appeared the antifreezes of G12++ class. This is a new type of coolant, which combines an organic basis with a small amount of mineral additives.
G12, G12+, G12++ antifreezes are varieties of organic acid technology. After a half-step backwards (towards silicate additives), technologists have slowly started to move forward, playing with combinations of mineral components. This technology is called lobrid coolants and is referred to as
- Lobrid coolants
- SOAT coolants
And the crown of modern coolants is a class G13.
Antifreeze of a class G13 appeared in 2012. They are fundamentally different from all the previous, because instead of poisonous ethylene glycol basis, have a harmless and environmentally friendly propylene glycol basis.
This is actually the end of the differences. From the technological point of view, antifreeze G13 is equivalent to ethylene glycol-based antifreeze G12++, and currently has no advantages (except environmental friendliness).
Antifreeze G11, G12 and G13 – what’s the difference?
Most often car owners are interested in two questions about the types and colors of antifreeze:
- What is the difference between G11, G12 and G13 antifreeze?
- Which antifreeze is better: red, green or blue?
First of all, anti-freeze fluids are originally colorless. And they are dyed only to separate them from other liquids, including alcoholic ones.
Secondly, there are no clear-cut color standards. That is why it is impossible to say with certainty that this or that antifreeze belongs to this or that technology. Any manufacturer can dye any color of his antifreeze.
We can speak only about a generally accepted practice of the most serious manufacturers. It is the following:
- G11 antifreeze is blue, or green, or blue-green.
- All G12 antifreezes (with and without pluses) are red with all shades from orange to lilac.
- G13 coolants are purple or pink, but in theory they could be any color.
And as for what kind of antifreeze is better to pour – red, green or blue, we can give a simple advice:
- If the car radiator is made of copper or brass, then it will be better to use red antifreeze (carboxylate);
- If your radiator is made of aluminum and its alloys – use green or blue (silicate) antifreeze.
Red antifreeze is no better and no worse than green, just that these coolants must be used based on the materials used in the components of the cooling system of the car. In turn, lobrid antifreeze G12++ and G13 have no problem fitting all cars.
G11 and G12 antifreeze: what is the difference
How to choose the coolant for a car engine? What is the right way to change to another type of antifreeze over time? What is the difference between G11 and G12 antifreeze, and why are they colored differently? Can different types of coolant be mixed? Contents 1 What the color difference between G11 and G12 means 2 What the difference between G11 and G12 antifreeze 3 Can G11 and G12 antifreeze be mixed 4 Which antifreeze to choose G11 or G12 What the color difference between G11 and G12 means The generally accepted classification of antifreeze was proposed at one time by Volkswagen. It was proposed to produce coolants of inorganic origin (G11) in blue and green, and of organic origin (G12) in pink and red. This color classification is often used, but is not a standard. That is, nothing obliges manufacturers to adhere to it. Often they dye fluids in a branded or some other color. Therefore, when selecting a new antifreeze, do not pay attention to the color, but ask about the marking of the product. The basis of any coolant is ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. These substances have a low coefficient of thermal expansion and a low freezing point. In addition to the base, the composition includes water and the original additive package. The producers add to the developed G11 brand substances that suppress corrosion processes (inhibitors), fluorescent additives, anti-foam and anticavitation substances, as well as dyes. What is the difference between antifreeze G11 and G12 Inorganic (glycol) antifreezes of G11 type contain special corrosion inhibitors. They form a protective film on the inner surface of engine parts. Additives of this type must be used if antifreeze comes into contact with surfaces of non-ferrous metals. These metals without a protective film will be quickly destroyed by the aggressive action of the glycol base. G11-type coolants wear out quickly and must be replaced every 3 or 2 years. The prototype for all coolants labeled G11 is VW coolant G 11, developed by Volkswagen. Now the company’s products marked G11 are the so-called hybrid antifreeze, produced according to the corporate specification VW TL 774-C. Other manufacturers also use this marking, but often do not meet the requirements of the specification. For example, Volkswagen G11 contains no borates, amines, phosphates, and very little silicates. “Traditional” antifreezes, which are now labeled as G11, have these substances in their composition. G12 antifreeze is carboxylate. The same VW company once produced VW coolant G 12 antifreeze and then developed the corresponding specification VW TL 774- D. The use of antifreeze type G12 implements a completely different engine protection mechanism than with G11. The insides of modern car engines are made without brass and copper, only aluminum and steel. And these metals form corrosive films on their surface at the lowest moisture content in the surrounding space. G12 antifreeze additives actively counteract the formation of such a film. This technology is called Long Life. Its main advantage is in the fact that the coolant performs its functions much longer. But full replacement of G11 for G12 is possible only if the engine does not contain nonferrous metals. Carboxylate antifreeze G12 will instantly destroy their protection.