The 10 Best Antifreeze and Coolants – 2021 (Review & Guide)

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What Are The Best Antifreeze and Coolants For Your Car?

There are dozens on the market. How can you possibly know which one is best for your car?

We cover a variety of antifreeze and coolants which should help you narrow down the list to the one that will work best for your vehicle. Keep in mind, there are products that are specially formulated for a specific type of vehicle and there are products that are greener than others.

There’s more detailed information below but this summary should give you a good overview of the best antifreeze and coolants for your car.

IN THIS GUIDE

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At A Glance: The Best Antifreeze and Coolants – 2021

Features
Best Overall Choice:
Engine Ice TYDS008-02 High-Performance Coolant
– Biodegradable, phosphate-free, non-toxic
– Temperature range from – 26 F up to 256 F
– Contains propylene glycol – helps eliminate gasket and seal failure
Best Ready-to-Use:
Mopar 10 Year/150,000 Mile Coolant 50/50 Premixed
– Great-value price point
– Works well on bigger engines like Ram 1500, Jeep Wrangler
– No need to add water
Runner-Up: Ready To Use:
Valvoline Multi-Vehicle 50/50 Prediluted Ready-to-Use Antifreeze
– Works universally across all makes and models
-Compatible with all antifreeze colors so no problem if mixed
-Strong anti-corrosion inhibitors and anti-scaling chemistry
Best for GM, Ford, and Chrysler Vehicles: Zerex DEX-COOL Organic Acid Technology Antifreeze / Coolant 1 GA-Approved by GM to their GM 6277M specs
-Gives service life of up to 150,000 miles
-No phosphates, silicates, borates, nitrates, amines, or nitrites
Best Waterless:
EVANS Cooling Systems EC53001 High-Performance Waterless Engine Coolant, 128 fl. oz.
-Waterless formula helps minimize the potential for corrosion
-High boiling point of 375 degrees
-Suits almost any modern or classic gas vehicle

In-Depth: The Best Antifreeze and Coolants – 2021

Best Overall Choice: Engine Ice TYDS008-02 High-Performance Coolant

What We Like:

  • Eco-friendly: biodegradable, phosphate-free, non-toxic
  • Huge effective temperature range from minus 26 F up to 256 F
  • Legal to use in CCS and ASRA road racing
  • Contains propylene glycol – helps eliminate gasket and seal failure
  • Works on motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not as competitively priced as others
  • Real-life temperature drops vary
  • Effects limited to high-performance use, not everyday use

Summary: Engine Ice’s antifreeze coolant is proven to prevent corrosion and maintain high-performance standards even in extreme temperatures. Among the many thousands of positive reviews, we see that it is most effectively used in racing applications.

Besides that, it offers this strong performance without any toxic materials and is biodegradable and generally eco-friendly. This also keeps it safe for use on most metals, including aluminum. One key ingredient is propylene glycol, which is very effective at maintaining engine health by stopping pump gasket and seal failures.

Best Ready-to-Use: Mopar 10 Year/150,000 Mile Coolant 50/50 Premixed

What We Like:

  • Great-value price point especially compared to dealerships
  • Works especially well on bigger engines like Ram 1500, Jeep Wrangler
  • No need to add water
  • Much better for engines built for OAT coolant

What We Don’t Like:

  • Some user reported confusion with FCA references on this product
  • Need to carefully check its compatibility before using

Summary: Mopar’s 10-year/150,000-mile coolant is especially championed by drivers of large-engine vehicles like SUVs and trucks. It is not only convenient to use because it is pre-made, but it’s often far more effective than dealer-recommended products, according to users.

The coolant is a deep purple color and is a special formulation especially suitable for engines that require OAT coolant. A common example is the 3.6 Pentastar engine (Chrysler). In addition, it features a great price point when compared to what you pay at the dealerships. 

Runner-Up: Ready To Use: Valvoline Multi-Vehicle 50/50 Prediluted Ready-to-Use Antifreeze

What We Like:

  • Works universally across all makes and models
  • Compatible with all antifreeze colors so no problem if mixed
  • Strong anti-corrosion inhibitors and anti-scaling chemistry
  • Patented formula
  • Keeps gaskets and seals lubricated

What We Don’t Like:

  • Some users report weaknesses or leaks in packaging

Summary: This offering from Valvoline, Valvoline Multi-Vehicle 50/50 Pre-diluted Ready To Use is recommended for all makes, models, and mileages of utility vehicles, ATVs, motorcycles (on- and off-road), snowmobiles, and others. It is also compatible with all coolant colors.

Its main unique feature is in the inclusion of Alugard Plus, which makes up part of the patented formula. Alugard Plus is what helps the anti-corrosion and anti-scaling chemistries to work effectively in a single formula.

Valvoline’s multi-vehicle coolant is conveniently prediluted so there’s no need to add extra water. It will also help properly lubricate gaskets and seals to prevent undue wear and tear.

Best for GM, Ford, and Chrysler Vehicles: Zerex DEX-COOL Organic Acid Technology Antifreeze / Coolant 1 GA

What We Like:

  • Approved by GM to their GM 6277M specification
  • An original and patented formula
  • Gives service life of up to 150,000 miles
  • Contains no phosphates, silicates, borates, nitrates, amines, or nitrites
  • Great-value price point

What We Don’t Like:

  • Color can be hard to detect for technicians

Summary: If you’re operating a GM, Ford, or Chrysler and you want a more brand-specific item, then this is the coolant for you. Valvoline products stand out mostly because of their unique patented formulas that actively protect as well as fulfill the antifreeze/coolant function. Mix concentrate with distilled water for the best results.

Zerex DEX-COOL also stands out thanks to its eco-friendly credentials. None of the more harmful additives that make other products more damaging are present. It’ll help provide a long service life to any GM/Ford/Chrysler vehicle and will do so at a price point that’s affordable to all consumers.

Best for BMW Vehicles: BMW 82141467704 Grey Antifreeze Coolant – 1 Gallon

What We Like:

  • Advanced ethylene glycol-based formula
  • Protective action for common engine metals: cast iron, steel, and aluminum
  • Specially formulated to handle typical BMW cooling system degradation problems
  • Strong protection against corrosion
  • Child/animal-friendly thanks to the inclusion of bittering agent.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Higher price point to comparable products
  • BMW drivers may feel they have no other choice

Summary: BMW’s antifreeze formulation is based on ethylene glycol is designed specifically for BMW vehicles of all stripes. It has very strong anti-corrosive properties and will offer great lubrication and protection for the various metal components within the system. BMW car cooling systems face some particular degradation issues and this engine coolant is meant to target those problems.

It comes at more of a premium than some third-party products but is highly effective and well made. The bittering agent helps to deter animals and children from ingesting.

Best for Asian Vehicles: Zerex Asian Vehicle Red Silicate and Borate Free 50/50 Prediluted Ready-to-Use Antifreeze/Coolant 1 GA

What We Like:

  • Meets OEM specifications for many brands
  • Free of silicate and borate; reduces harmful scale deposits
  • Premixed with distilled water for added convenience
  • Extra long-life formula makes even pre-mixed coolant good value
  • Terrific price point

What We Don’t Like:

  • Will require a full flush of the radiator in some models – e.g., Honda/Mazda – because it’s less effective when mixed with other coolants in the system

Summary: Asian brands are always popular in the US and around the world, and others benefit from a formulation designed to meet their specification. This offering, Zerex Asian Vehicle, is very affordable, convenient to use, and meets the exact OEM specification of not only Asian brands like Hyundai but even Ford.

Some assume that pre-mixed means a premium price point, but this coolant fluid is made for long-life use which means you’ll get plenty of use for your cooling system.

Best Waterless: EVANS Cooling Systems EC53001 High-Performance Waterless Engine Coolant, 128 fl. oz.

What We Like:

  • Waterless formula helps minimize any potential for corrosion
  • Can be used to reduce maintenance costs
  • Extremely high boiling point of 375 degrees to prevent boil-overs
  • Suits just about any modern or classic gasoline vehicle
  • Reduces high-pressure steam in the engine

What We Don’t Like:

  • Requires full radiator flush before use; can’t be mixed at all with other products
  • Higher price point

Summary: Waterless engine coolant is used by people who need the advantage of an extra-high boiling point and a reduction in vapor pressure within their engines. Water naturally means added corrosion, electrolysis, and vapor, so this formula helps to minimize all of these problem factors.

This offering, Evans Waterless Engine Coolant, is versatile and effective. One benefit of Evans’ particular formula is reducing the pre-ignition engine knock, which helps to boost engine life and preserve fuel economy.

Best Organic Acid Technology (OAT): Zerex DEX-COOL Organic Acid Technology Antifreeze / Coolant 1 GA

What We Like:

  • Best patented anti-corrosion formula
  • Prevents heat transfer from metal to coolant
  • Eliminates scale deposits
  • Great overall performance in long-life application

What We Don’t Like:

  • Compatibility has to be checked first with the manufacturer; some misleading information on compatible models exists for this product

Summary: Most modern cars need a formula that is based on organic acid technology (OAT) as opposed to the older silicate formulas. Not only are they greener, but they’re more efficient and are more effective in preventing corrosion and buildup of deposits that damage the cooling system.

This organic acid antifreeze coolant, Zerex Dex-Cool Oat, provides solid long-life performance with consistent results. Do check compatibility with your car model before purchase, whatever labels might say. Check with Zerex or the manufacturer. If it works, it’s a great-value choice.

Best for Toyota: Genuine Toyota Parts Antifreeze Gallon W (00272-1LLAC-01)

What We Like:

  • Vehicle-specific formula gives peace of mind to Toyota owners
  • Quality and efficacy more guaranteed
  • Suits Toyotas going back as long as two decades
  • Easy to mix and prepare to form optimum pink engine coolant mix

What We Don’t Like:

  • Can lead owners to believe no other product will do
  • Some reports of excess acidity

Summary: It’s always nice to find an antifreeze coolant that is specific to your own brand of car. Toyota is among the best-selling brands in the US, making this product especially useful for giving peace of mind to the millions of Toyota owners out there.

Preparing the concentrate with distilled water is easy enough, and as a genuine Toyota antifreeze, users should feel confident using it in any Toyota model that takes OAT engine coolant. Those who still want to shop around shouldn’t be put off, though. Other products for your Toyota do exist.

Best Green Antifreeze: Zerex Original Green 50/50 Prediluted Ready-to-Use Antifreeze/Coolant

What We Like:

  • Ultra-low temperature protection as low as minus 34 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Patented Zerex formula with special corrosion-prohibiting properties
  • Animal/child-friendly thanks to denatonium benzoate bittering agent
  • Mixes fine with existing green antifreeze
  • Comes with 150,000-mile or 5-year guarantee

What We Don’t Like:

  • Price point not the best compared to full concentrate

Summary: Those looking for green antifreeze will find a great ally in this excellent product, Zerex Original Green 50/50 Pre-diluted antifreeze. This one comes ready-to-use, so no need to add any water. Its patented formula is specially designed to act against corrosion and rust.

The presence of 30-50ppm of denatonium benzoate helps to deter any animals or children that might try to ingest, making it that much friendlier to the environment and home safety.

What’s the Difference Between Antifreeze and Coolant?

The two items are related, but not quite the same thing. Antifreeze is the concentrated product you purchase that you then dilute with water. It’s glycol-based and is only referred to as “coolant” when it changes to its diluted form. Coolant, then, is the diluted substance you create after adding water to antifreeze.

The most common ratio used by drivers is 50:50 antifreeze and water, but ratios can differ from vehicle to vehicle. Some antifreeze/coolant products come pre-mixed so you don’t have to add water to them. In this form, you can describe them as pre-mixed coolants.

6 Benefits of Good-Quality Antifreeze

1. It preserves engine life and fuel economy

Extreme temperatures are always bad for your car’s engine. The formulation of antifreeze is such that it protects the key components of the engine and can help give up to an incredible 600,000 miles worth of protection, or 12,000 hours. Premature engine failure is a prohibitively expensive problem, and antifreeze is a key component in preventing it.

In preserving the engine, the antifreeze is therefore also instrumental in maintaining proper fuel economy. When an engine is in disrepair, it has to work harder thus expending more fuel. Antifreeze keeps temperatures optimum and parts working for a more efficient engine overall.

2. Helps to prevent breakdowns

Did you know that 4 in 10 breakdowns on the roads are caused by problems that originate in the car’s cooling system? The critical weakness of any engine in the past was its inability to regulate temperature and prevent overheating. Cars that couldn’t cool, or act against extremely low temperatures, were useless to drivers.

Antifreeze is a key ally in that battle to maintain the right temperature and safeguard against extremes. The natural result is fewer breakdowns.

3. Prevents rust, corrosion, and electrolysis

Over time, key parts in the engine are vulnerable to rust and corrosion. This was especially true in older car models that used water-based cooling systems. Antifreeze-based cooling systems reduce the dependence on water and thus reduce the effects of rust, corrosion, and electrolysis. Some alternative coolants were designed to flush away these deposits of rust, but antifreeze goes the extra mile to actively prevent them from happening in the first place.

4. Puts right the shortcomings of water

Water was always considered the natural choice for coolant. In the early days of the automotive industry, it was quickly proven to be more effective than air. The problem, however, is water’s natural boiling and freezing points. If you live somewhere with extreme winters or blistering summers, water is mostly ineffective. Even under normal conditions, there was the danger of it boiling or freezing. Antifreeze solves that problem.

Great-quality antifreeze works at temperatures close to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases, and minus 30 or more degrees for cold resistance. This allows it to keep working even when the worst weather comes upon us.

5. Offers better temperature protection

When it comes to dissipating heat, no other coolant can match the effect of antifreeze-based engine coolants. Not only does this help those who live in locations with extreme winters and summers (see above), but also those who put their vehicle through extreme running conditions like racing, off-roading, and other activities. These naturally induce greater heat and therefore require a more resilient cooling material. Antifreeze fits the bill.

6. It lowers car maintenance costs

If your car is always in need of additional downtime due to overheating, then your maintenance costs naturally go up. Antifreeze reduces the amount of time you’ll have to spend on maintenance thanks to its protective properties and better ability to manage temperature extremes. The result is lower overall costs to you, even after you factor in the cost of the antifreeze concentrate itself.

5 Things to Look for When Choosing an Antifreeze

1. Protection against corrosion/deposits

Many antifreeze products based on ethylene glycol will claim to offer better protection against corrosion and rust deposits on key engine parts. This is an important feature because using a more corrosive coolant can end up costing you more in maintenance costs. Favor the products that actively prevent corrosion as opposed to those that say they “flush” mineral deposits. The latter is generally less effective.

2. Temperature range

A good antifreeze needs to work against a huge range of temperatures both extremely low and high. They need this ability in order to prevent freezing or boiling over within the engine and radiator. The more able antifreeze products will work no matter how much strain you put the cooling system through.

3. Coolant color 

Different colors historically indicated different properties of coolants, and usually shouldn’t be mixed. Colors can also indicate which brand is better suited to each one. For instance, orange coolants work with GM, Saab, and VW vehicles, whereas turquoise coolants work with BMW, Volvo, Tesla, Mini, and other vehicles. There is some crossover, but the main point is that you should look for the optimum color (more in FAQs)

4. Compatibility

Following from color, you should check the general compatibility of the coolant with your car model and year. Coolants have changed a lot over the years. One of the main points of divergence is between the use of IAT (inorganic additive technology) and OAT (organic acid technology). The former is used in older car models (pre-1998), and the latter in newer cars. Always check labels and/or with your manufacturer for proper compatible antifreeze.

5. Presence of bittering agent

Finally, the use of denatonium benzoate as a bittering agent is a great safety measure to look out for. Some US states mandate its use. It removes the original sweet flavor of the antifreeze to stop animals and children from being tempted to ingest it.

6 Types of Antifreeze

Broadly speaking, there are 6 main types of antifreeze:

  1. IAT: Inorganic Additive Technology – Used in older vehicles (Green)
  2. OAT: Organic Acid Technology – Used in GM, Saab, VW (Orange)
  3. HOAT: Hybrid HOAT antifreeze– Used in Ford, Chrysler, European models (Yellow)
  4. HOAT Phosphate-free antifreeze– Used in BMW, Volvo, Tesla, Mini (Turquoise)
  5. P-HOAT: Phosphated HOAT antifreeze – Used in Asian brands (Pink/Blue)
  6. Si-OAT: Silicates & Organic Acids – Used in Mercedes-Benz, Audi, VW, Porsche (Purple)

The different types of antifreeze boast different qualities and abilities. Some, like the OAT formulas, are more effective in anti-corrosion, for example. Some have to be used because they are brand-specific, or at least they are the most effective choice of coolant in that brand.

How Does Antifreeze Work?

Antifreeze works by combining with water to form a solution that actively prevents ice crystals from forming at the temperatures at which they normally would in pure water. In other words, it lowers the freezing point of water so that engine coolant can work at lower temperatures.

3 Key Tips and Advice for Antifreeze and Coolants

1.Flush the Radiator:

Before using a new antifreeze product, always flush the radiator clean. A lot of antifreeze coolant products do not mix well, despite what they may claim on the packaging. The safest solution is to always flush the radiator when switching products.

2.Buy Concentrate to Save Money:

Convenience with antifreeze products tends to come at a high premium. Antifreeze typically comes in gallon bottles. When you buy a 50/50 pre-mixed antifreeze product, you are only really getting half a gallon. The price, however, will not be half of the concentrate price. In other words, you get far more antifreeze for your money when you buy the pure concentrated material. 

The mixing is easy if you just follow the instructions given on the packaging. Once you’ve done it once, it will get easier in the future and you will make savings.

3.Invest in a brand-specific product if available

Many car brands come out with their own products specifically formulated for their engines. Some claim these are overpriced but many others testify to their greater efficacy. Each marque comes with its own unique problems and the antifreeze products are usually formulated to work with these conditions. It’s a good idea to invest in brand-specific antifreeze engine coolant where you can.

FAQs For The Best Antifreeze And Coolants:

How do I know which antifreeze is best for my vehicle?

There are 2 ways you can determine which antifreeze is best for your vehicle:

1. Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation or ask at the dealership for what they recommend.

2. Search for third-party products and ask the seller for compatibility advice before buying. Buying a coolant of the same color as your original coolant is also a good bet.

What do the different colors of antifreeze mean? Why does antifreeze come in different colors?

The different colors of antifreeze are largely a hangover of older antifreeze materials, whose colors actually were formed by the particular chemicals used in the formulation. Antifreeze comes in different colors these days, but the colors are primarily a choice of the manufacturer and are mostly a way to distinguish it from other products.

What happens if I use the wrong coolant or mix coolants?

If you use the wrong coolant or if you mix coolants, the worst-possible results are severe impairment to engine performance, as well as serious corrosion to the radiator and some other critical components. It won’t happen immediately, but if you leave the wrong coolant in long enough, it will sooner or later have a negative impact.

How do I know when to change my coolant? How long before I need to change the antifreeze coolant?

Check your manufacture’s manual to see what they recommend. However, there are 2 things you can do to check whether the coolant/antifreeze needs to be changed:

1.Check the coolant level in your engine. The reservoir has a “minimum level” and “maximum level” line to indicate whether you need more coolant (or to tell you if you’ve added too much).
2. If you notice a sweet smell coming from the engine, that’s another sign that the coolant might need changing. It typically needs flushing every two years or 30,000 miles.

You could also use a Prestone antifreeze/coolant tester. This Prestone tester will check for concentration levels, inspect for rust and sediment and it works with all ethylene glycol coolants.

Do I use the same antifreeze in my diesel engine as my gasoline engine?

No, you typically shouldn’t use the same antifreeze in your diesel engine as your gasoline engine. You should always check to make sure what type of engine your particular antifreeze coolant is for.

Should I use Ethylene glycol for my car?

Yes, you should use Ethylene glycol in your car where possible because it is more suitable than other antifreeze products such as propylene glycol, despite being more toxic.

Ethylene glycol increases viscosity and makes the coolant less likely to evaporate. Propylene glycol is better for in-home use where accidental ingestion is more possible.

If you want to determine whether it needs to change, try using a Prestone antifreeze/coolant tester.

Does Prestone antifreeze contain ethylene glycol?

Yes, Prestone antifreeze does contain ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is not an uncommon ingredient but it is poisonous. Please note that at one point in 2020, Prestone products were released with safety caps that were not completely secure.

How often should I change my antifreeze?

You should change your antifreeze approximately every 30,000 miles.

Is it bad to add coolant without draining the old coolant?

Yes, it’s bad to add coolant without draining the old coolant with a flush. Old coolants will collect dirt and rust particles and lose their effectiveness.

You can use a Prestone antifreeze/coolant tester to better understand the state of your coolant.

What’s a cooling system additive?

A coolant additive transfers heat more efficiently through the radiator.
It can reduce the temperature on engines and increase resistance against corrosion and help reduce surface tension and absorb and transfer heat from the engine more efficiently.

Summary – The 10 Best Antifreeze And Coolants

There are dozens of antifreeze and coolants on the market. Now that you’ve read this article, hopefully, you’ve figured out which antifreeze and coolant is best for your vehicle and your driving needs.

As a reminder, our top pick is Engine Ice TYDS008-02 High-Performance Coolant. It’s well known for its biodegradable features and wide temperature range which is why it’s great for racing cars, motorcycles, and those who like to go fast, on or off the race track.

If you aren’t looking for antifreeze for your fast-er moving vehicle, then our top pick for ready to use, Mopar 10 Year/150,000 Mile Coolant 50/50 Premixed, is a great option, along with our runner-up, Valvoline Multi-Vehicle 50/50 Prediluted Ready-to-Use Antifreeze

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Last update on 2021-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API