The Great 'antifreeze' rip off

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With it going into winter "over there" and coming into summer "over here", a lot of people are thinking about changing their "antifreeze".
I am interested in the feedback of members about me doing a 'rant' about antifreeze. What's in it, why does our engine need it (or does it?) and so on.
It will be based on facts and wont really be a rant...as such, although I do have an axe to grind on this one!
It might also challenge what you think antifreeze is all about! And how it goes about doing it.8-)
Why am I so passionate? Because the stuff is unnecessarily expensive on one hand, and can be a complete rip off on the other! Why? Post a comment!
If no one is interested I wont bother...maybe. :D
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Ozvtr wrote: Sat Nov 26, 2022 6:04 am With it going into winter "over there" and coming into summer "over here", a lot of people are thinking about changing their "antifreeze".
I am interested in the feedback of members about me doing a 'rant' about antifreeze. What's in it, why does our engine need it (or does it?) and so on.
It will be based on facts and wont really be a rant...as such, although I do have an axe to grind on this one!
It might also challenge what you think antifreeze is all about! And how it goes about doing it.8-)
Why am I so passionate? Because the stuff is unnecessarily expensive on one hand, and can be a complete rip off on the other! Why? Post a comment!
If no one is interested I wont bother...maybe. :D
I ensure the the level of freezing protection that the antifreeze gives my Citroen C3 is far in excess for the absolute worst case freezing I am ever likely to encounter. I check the strength of the antifreeze in my engine like this (post)

There is no need to change it unnecessarily.

I like the idea that a frozen cooling system is not going to be a problem I will ever come across in my C3. I suppose it is a sort of insurance. Could there be a cheaper way of doing it? I can't think of one. The correct type of coolant wasn't that expensive and it lasts for years.

Citroen know the engine they helped to develop and if they specify a coolant to use, I'm going to use it. I don't know any better than them when it comes to which coolant to use.

It works, so of course, plain water may have also worked, but I am not going to be the one that finds out. OAT coolant has been working for me.
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No, it's not about antifreeze in and of itself being a rip off. I am not saying that you shouldn't use "antifreeze". In fact I would highly recommend you use an additive in your cooling system. But which one? Do most people need 30% ethylene glycol in their engine coolant? Can you still protect your engine against corrosion without using "antifreeze"? Will my engine boil over if I don't take advantage of the "anti boil" characteristics of "anti freeze"?
I will try and answer the question as to; why is there a literal wall of different antifreeze products when you go to the auto parts store? Why does one container of antifreeze cost 1 pound, and another cost 10?
What represents good value and what is a blatant rip off? I will not compare brands, or pit OEM against aftermarket.
I am not here to to tell what to do. But I will try to save you some money by telling you what's in what and YOU decide what product is best for you to use. It's your money and I am certainly not here to tell you how to spend it.
I will stick to the facts and believe me I'm not a "flat earther".
Antifreeze is not a rip off...however...the pricing and marketing can be!
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Well I suppose I better put my money where my mouth is. Pity I didn't get more of a reaction. :lol:

OK, as I said "antifreeze" isn't of itself a rip off. To be honest calling it antifreeze is a bit of a misnomer.
I would prefer it was called coolant. But brand names like Xerox, Hoover and JCB get attached to items that aren't!
In fact, here in Australia it IS called coolant because there are very few places here where you would need to protect the cooling system in a car from freezing. But as I will explain soon, most of it is still contains an antifreeze agent!!
OK, so what's my gripe? Well the cost of "antifreeze" is quite expensive and when you go to buy new antifreeze for your car why, are you literally hit with a wall of bottles of anti freeze!?
Why does there need to be so many options? What's different about them? Which one do I need? Which ones are just a straight rip-off?

The main constituents of antifreeze are; Ethylene glycol(or polyethylene glycol), corrosion inhibitors and water.
Glycol is the main constituent of the "antifreeze" part of...antifreeze. Where appropriate, it stops the coolant in your engine from freezing and potentially damaging the engine.
Water does the actual cooling of the engine and the corrosion inhibitors, well inhibit corrosion.
There may be other items added like anti-foaming agents to stop cavitation of the coolant.

First up, if you live in an area where there is a potential for the coolant in the engine of your car freezing up, YOU NEED ANTIFREEZE IN YOUR COOLING SYSTEM!!!
I am not denying that! But, if you live in an are area where there is no chance of the coolant freezing, do you need "antifreeze"??

So here is the first fact, and you can verify it if you wish. Water carries heat better than ethylene glycol. Just plain water does a better job at cooling your engine than ethylene glycol does.

Next fact, Ethylene glycol is NOT a corrosion inhibitor. So why do manufacturers say to increase the concentrations of their product to increase corrosion protection lifespan? To increase the corrosion package, not the glycol. But they are not independent. increase the inhibitor, increase the glycol. Of course if you live in a cold climate cooling is not really a problem is it? What if you live in a hot climate?

Next fact, for the "antifreeze" to protect your 'engine' from freezing, the concentration of ethylene glycol in the cooling system must be a MINIMUM of 1/3.
That's about 330 grams of ethylene glycol per litre of coolant. Note this for later.

Next fact. The corrosion inhibitor component of "antifreeze" is about 2.5%. VERY LITTLE! But that's seems to be all it takes to do the job. So why do different types of corrosion inhibitor packages in antifreeze cost more than others?

The next fact. At a super market you can buy distilled (or de-ionized) water for about 50p a litre. How much do auto stores sell it for and how much does that water become when it's added to pe-mixed antifreeze by the manufacturer? Read the label and do the maths.

Next fact. Tap water contains minerals to lower the PH (acidity) and kill 'bugs' that might grow in it. These minerals can promote rust and oxidation and build up in the cooling passages of the engine. Bad! Don't use it.

These facts will become important later.

So if you live in a cold climate you might need glycol in the cooling system and if you don't live in a cold climate you don't need glycol in the cooling system.

Then if you live in a climate where there is no chance of the coolant freezing...why are you putting "antifreeze" in your cooling system?
Well here is the beginning of my whole "antifreeze is a rip-off" trope.

First up, if there is any chance of the car going into an area where the cooling system might freeze...use antifreeze in the cooling system!!! HOWEVER, remember, the amount of glycol needs to be a MINIMUM of 33% to protect the cooling system from freezing!
If you buy premixed antifreeze, read the label! Does it contain 33% glycol??? Of course if you buy concentrate and mix your own, then you will know what percentage of glycol is in the mixture.
Remember how I said that you can buy de-mineralized water for 50p a litre? If you buy premixed antifreeze, look at the label. Considering that 2/3 of that mixture is water, how much per liter are you paying for that water??? Look at the cost of bottles of concentrate (about 95% ethylene glycol) and do the maths.
In fact most pre-mixed antifreeze don't even reach the minimum 1/3 glycol! Remember I said it needs to be a minimum of 330g per liter of coolant to protect the coolant from freezing! READ THE LABEL! That's very expensive water that you are paying for.

So my recommendation for people who live in a climate where there is a potential for the engine coolant to freeze, is to mix your own antifreeze. Mixing antifreeze concentrate and distilled water is far cheaper than pre-mixed! And you know exactly what the ratio is.
If you are not comfortable with that and want to buy premixed...read the label and make sure that the concentration is at least 1/3 glycol! Or you are just wasting time and money.

Then, if you live in a climate where there is no chance of the coolant freezing (that's me), why are you putting glycol in your coolant?? Ah! But it has "anti-boil" characteristics! NO IT doesn't!
Yes, it's true that it will raise the "boiling point" a few degrees, but without going into Boyles law and the whole physics of the cooling system being under pressure, these few degrees are a waste of time. If there is a problem with the cooling system of your car that would cause the engine to "boil over", glycol wont stop it!!
And no! Raising the boiling point does NOT make the the engine run cooler. Remember what I said about water being a better coolant than glycol?

So I should just run de-mineralized water in the cooling system then?
ER...NO!
As we all know, dunking most metals into water is not a good idea, It promotes corrosion.
There is also cavitation of the water pump impeller which can cause damage to the water pump and housing. I wont go into what cavitation is...just trust me.

So my recommendation for people who live in a climate where there is no potential for the engine coolant to freeze, is to use a mixture of distilled water and a corrosion inhibitor package. Yes, you can just buy the corrosion inhibitor by itself. A 500ml bottle will go a long way! Just be careful, some bottles of inhibitor contain ethylene glycol as a "filler". Find one that says "contains no ethylene glycol".
Don't pay for what you don't need!!!

Well Mr Smarty pants, what type of corrosion inhibitor should I use then? Which colour?
D'OH!!! Colour don't enter into it!
There are BASICALLY two types of corrosion inhibitors. OAT and non-OAT. OAT stands for Organic Acid Technology.
Without getting all techno babbley about it, OAT is for modern "all Aluminium" engines.
Non-OAT are for the iron, copper and brass cooling systems of old.
Typically the non-OAT coolants are green in colour, but read the label!!! OAT based coolants can be any colour. Colour is irrelevant!

For the C3 you should only use an OAT based corrosion inhibitor. The old, non-OAT, inhibitor can damage aluminium and OAT inhibitors can damage brass, copper tin and lead found in older engines.

I hope that this has cleared up some confusion about what "antifreeze" is and that the reader can walk into the antifreeze isle of there auto shop and no longer be overwhelmed by the choice and not be ripped-off by unscrupulous manufacturers of antifreeze.

Will running "antifreeze" in you engine damage it if you live in a hot climate? NO! If you follow the directions you will cause no harm. But at no point do they say that running ethylene glycol in your cooling system is a waste of time and money either. They are happy to take your money if you happy to give it away!

If anything is unclear and you have a question please just ask.
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Thank you for the post Oz it sure got me to take the thumb out of my cornhole and check the coolant color in my C3 which was a blue color, most probably non OAT local supermarket brand. God knows how long its been in there. Will changing back to OAT coolant cause any problems? From memory i've seen some video where two types of coolants have been mixed and turned into goopy sludge inside the engine block :shock: Also wondering if having the wrong coolant can cause any performance issues?? Like coolant temp sensors picking up wrong readings etc. Just looking for another reason to change the coolant :D
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Gaston76 wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 5:23 pm Like coolant temp sensors picking up wrong readings etc
You won't get any sensors picking up the wrong numbers with different coolants.

The different colours are to help identify the different additive packs in the coolant. Some are better suited to some metals and plastics used in the cooling system while the other colours are better for other engine materials. The water will still be at the same temperature.

Citroen have tested their engines on the OAT (red, well, usually) coolant and exclude the classic 'blue' as not being compatible. It could be that the head gaskets last longer with the compatible one? could it be a galvanic action is inhibited with the OAT? I don't know what it is, but I know Citroen have chosen one and I am happy to follow their advice.

I don't regularly change antifreeze so I haven't worried about the cost difference between what has been approved and the one that hasn't.
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Gaston76 wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 5:23 pm Thank you for the post Oz it sure got me to take the thumb out of my cornhole and check the coolant color in my C3 which was a blue color, most probably non OAT local supermarket brand. God knows how long its been in there. Will changing back to OAT coolant cause any problems? From memory i've seen some video where two types of coolants have been mixed and turned into goopy sludge inside the engine block :shock: Also wondering if having the wrong coolant can cause any performance issues?? Like coolant temp sensors picking up wrong readings etc. Just looking for another reason to change the coolant :D
Yes some coolant additives are not compatible. The cooling system should be flushed before you 'change' the antifreeze anyway. The biggest problem would be 'topping up' your coolant if you don't know what's in there in the first place! So if in doubt, flush it and change it.
The inhibitor package in most antifreeze is only about 2.5%. So I doubt that you would get as violent a reaction from most 'off the shelf' antifreeze as the youtube video. However if you are expecting a "concoction" (I.E. topping up with random coolant) of different antifreeze mixtures to protect your engine from corrosion, you might be disappointed

Remember the "antifreeze" has to do just 3 things;
1) Cool the engine. DUH!
2)Protect the cooling system from corroding/damage.
3) Where applicable, stop the coolant from freezing.

I can not understate enough that the number of engines damaged by not changing the coolant or using tap water is significant!! The damage to the internals of the cooling passages CAN NOT BE SEEN OR INSPECTED. When the damage is done it's too late!
How many engines have been damaged by corrosion as compared to the number damaged by freezing? I am NOT saying there is no potential of frozen coolant damaging an engine, but where should the real priority lay?

As far as head gaskets go; most head gaskets that I have seen damaged have had minerals "growing" between the laminates of the head gaskets. This hasn't caused a failure of the head gasket just damage to it. The minerals grow because the inhibitor in the coolant is ineffectual. Meaning the inhibitor was old or just non existent. Most of the time, corrosion works its way around the head gasket, on the cylinder head side typicaly. Again, failure of the corrosion inhibitor, not an interaction with the gasket. An incorrect type of coolant might damage the engines metal parts but I have not seen it directly damage a head gasket.

So my "rip-off" rant is : are you getting enough protection for your engine for the money that you paid? Are you getting any protection at all??!! Did you read the label?

OK I'll bring out the big guns now!!
Citroen recommends Glystantin G30 as the coolant for the C3. Glystantin is a trade mark of the BASF company, Germany.
Its available in a concentrate or in a premixed package under the Glystantin brand.
According to the MSDS (https://www.glysantin.de/sites/default/ ... 0%20EN.pdf) the concentrate product consists of;
no less than 75% and no more than 100% ethanediol. That's another term for Ethylene Glycol!
No less than 3% and no more than 5% Disodium sebacate. That's the 'OAT' corrosion inhibitor!
And 0.1-0.2% benzotriazoles, another corrosion inhibitor.
Glysantin G30 is pink in colour.
The mixing ratio is recommended at 1:1 (50% antifreeze, 50% water) for the concentrate. Or 'straight' for the premix.

...And just to bend your brain;
antifreeze 001.jpg
antifreeze 004.jpg
This BLUE antifreeze by Penrite (an Australian company) is a licenced alternative to Glystantin G30! Did I mention its blue and not pink? :D
My point is; read the label...don't look at the colour.
Did you also notice that the MSDS said Glystantin G30 is about 95% Ethylene Glycol... the same as every other antifreeze?
Now don't get me wrong! I AM NOT SAYING GLYSTANTIN IS A RIP-OFF!!!! I am saying the difference between most antifreeze is just 5%. So if you are paying a premium price, make sure you are getting a premium product!!
If you can buy cheap antifreeze that consists of 95% ethylene glycol and you can buy expensive antifreeze that consists of 95% ethylene glycol what are you getting/not getting for your money?

Just for $#!75 and giggles, the specific gravity of Ethylene Glycol is 1.11. Meaning this product is about 96.8% Ethylene Glycol!
antifreeze 006.jpg
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I did some fact checking of myself and I have a bit of an apology to make.

When the C3 first came out in 2003 the officially recommended antifreeze by Citroen was Glystantin G33 not G30. BASF no longer produces Glystantin G33 and it seems to have been replaced in the interim by Gystantin G30. BASF currently recommends the use of Glystantin G30 in all Citroen vehicles. HOWEVER, Citroen no longer recommends Glystantin. Are you with me?

Sorry that I made it seem all "officially-ish" but the antifreeze I talked about is not endorsed BY CITROEN. However it is licensed by the the company that used to make Glystantin G33. AND while it's a licensed replacement (of G30) it is definitely not the same colour. Are you still with me?

So if you go to your local Citroen dealer and ask for antifreeze for your C3, I have no idea what they will give you. I am NOT saying that the stuff from the dealership is a "rip-off". I am just saying that I don't know what is in it. But I can make a good guess. :D

One of my points is still valid: the colour of the antifreeze is still irrelevant. Read the label!