Do you use water instead of coolant in your radiator?
A good number of people opt to use water instead of coolant in their car radiators. This, however, is not a good idea and I will tell you why. If by any chance you don’t have any coolant readily available at the moment, then you can go ahead and use water. However, ensure that you purchase some coolant and put it into your radiator as soon as possible.
What is coolant?
Coolant is water mixed with about 50% ethylene or propylene glycol . Glycol is added into the mixture to lower the freezing point of water but this only applies to areas with temperatures that go below 0° Celsius.
The antifreezes also protect the engine from corrosion, aid water pump cavitation and lubrication and they also raise the boiling point of the liquid above pure water.
Why use Coolant instead of Water?
There is a big difference between using coolant and water. It is true that water, just like coolant, can help to keep your engine cool. However, water does not compare to coolant in terms of workability.
First of all, water boils faster and at a lower temperature than coolant. If you live in a very hot part of the continent or country, you are likely to encounter the first problem. Water in your radiator will evaporate into gas very quickly and leave your engine exposed.
This is because water evaporates at 100°C and we understand that temperatures within the engine block go way above such temperatures . If the water disappears, expect a lot of trouble. The engine will overheat and misbehave. The heat produced through constant internal combustion will destroy your engine very quickly.
Also, water alone is not entirely adequate to keep your engine cool. This is because, as the engine works, it generates high temperatures inside that can eventually boil the water which will evaporate entirely. This again will expose you to bigger and costlier problems.
Secondly, if you live in cold areas, you should be worried too. Water freezes at 0°C. If freezing happens, then your engine will freeze and stop working.
Additionally, if you stay in places that experience winter, you risk having your engine block crack if you run your engine with only plain water.
Why use coolant?
Engine coolant, unlike pure water, is specially formulated to keep the parts in your engine from becoming corroded.
Can I add pure water to coolant?
Adding pure water to a system that is low on coolant would seem like the right thing to do but note that the pure water will dilute the coolant and bring the freezing point up to levels that might freeze the coolant.
There are inexpensive devices that you can purchase at the nearest store to test your coolant to make sure that it has the proper water to coolant ratio (about 50%). You can easily check the freeze point of coolant with a refractometer or the old way with a cheap garden variety specific gravity tester.
Furthermore, filling up the cooling system with pure water might not seem harmful in the short term but in the long run, the internals of the cooling system will start to oxidize due to electrolysis caused by the different metals used inside an engine and the water pump seal will wear out prematurely.
In the event that a car has run out of water or coolant due to some mechanical problem and is overheating , being an emergency, water can be added as a temporary substitute.
Before you add water into the cooling system, allow the engine of your car to cool first, then begin adding water through the reservoir. Next, drive to the nearest repair shop so the cooling system can be checked and repaired. Then, ensure that the correct coolant mixture is added.
What if I don’t have coolant readily available?
Distilled water is your best option in your radiator in case coolant is not readily available. Distilled water is appropriate since it has no minerals in it.
Lastly, in case you add water into the coolant, make sure you don’t dilute your coolant too much. Develop the habit of buying pre-mixed coolant to add to your radiator. This is a much better idea than adding water.
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