Why Is Coolant Different Colours?

image of pouring coolantHave you ever wondered how pink, orange, blue and green engine coolants differ from each other? Perhaps you’ve bought a car, checked the coolant/antifreeze reservoir for the first time and noticed it’s different from your last car. You might be wondering which you should use if you need to top up?

The colour of engine coolant isn’t there to make it look pretty. There are historical reasons why it comes in different colours, but these days it doesn’t necessarily tell you all that much.

However, it’s important to make sure you’re putting the right fluid in your car, so here we give a bit of insight into the differences. We also look at some of the advantages of using high-performance coolant/antifreeze, so you can make a better-informed decision on the product that’s right for you.

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Why is Coolant/Antifreeze Different Colours?

image of antifreeze Vehicle fluids vary in colour from bright pink to reddish-brown, so if you ever need help identifying which is which, take a look at our car fluid finder chart. As for coolant/antifreeze, there are a couple of key differences as to why some products are one colour and others are another, as our expert Bruce Ellis explains below:

“In days gone by, the colour of coolant was determined by the type of chemicals used to prevent corrosion — meaning you could tell a lot about the type of coolant used by its colour.

“Older coolants that used Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT) were usually blue or green in colour. With these types of coolants, you’d normally have to change them every two years, or every 60,000 miles.

“Next came Organic Acid Technology (OAT) coolants, whose chemical make-up offered better protection for cooling systems, and extended the life of the coolant. These ‘Extended Life Coolants’ (ELC), were usually orange in colour and offered a five-year or 100,000-mile change interval. They could be a blend of IAT and OAT chemicals, and were therefore named ‘Hybrids’.

“Newer coolants, such as Prestone, based solely on the OAT chemical make-up, now offer a 10-year or 300,000-mile change interval thanks to their superior corrosion protection. Prestone is yellow, but many other coolant manufacturers use different colours.

“These days, there’s no real reason for a coolant manufacturer to use a certain colour, so it’s not easy for you to know what chemicals are in the coolant just by seeing whether it’s blue, green, yellow or orange.

“That’s why it’s so confusing – you can open up the bonnet of a new car and have no idea what the coolant is based on. Similarly, if you buy a second-hand car, the colour of the coolant gives you no idea as to when it needs to be changed.

image of antifreeze“For example, say you buy a second-hand car and it has pink coolant in it. You can see from the service record that it has had a coolant service within the last two years. But is it aftermarket or OEM spec? Will it last for two years or longer?

“The best thing to do when you aren’t sure what kind of coolant/antifreeze is in your car is to use Prestone Coolant/Antifreeze, either at service or to top up.

“No matter what car it is or what coolant is in it, Prestone Coolant/Antifreeze is developed to work with any other coolant, and you can mix it with others safely without worrying about hampered performance. If you use the product at the change interval, you get complete peace of mind, as the coolant will offer protection for 10 years or 300,000 miles, which is likely to be the life of the car.”

What Are the Advantages of Using High-Performance Coolant/Antifreeze?

Coolant/antifreeze is easy to overlook. You check your oil regularly, but plenty of drivers don’t think to look at the coolant reservoir year after year.

If you’re using a product like Prestone then you don’t need to, as it’s guaranteed to provide protection for the cooling system for 10 years. However, if you’re not sure which coolant/antifreeze is in your car it’s worth draining the system and replacing it with a high-performance alternative.

image of engine coolantHere, we look at some of the advantages of replacing your coolant/antifreeze with a product like Prestone:

  • It can be mixed with any product – As Bruce touched on above, Prestone is safe to use with all types of coolant, so you can top up the reservoir without flushing the radiator.
  • It provides unbeatable protection – Prestone is stress-tested in extremes, from lows of -37°C to highs of +129°C, so you can be confident your car is always protected.
  • Guaranteed corrosion protection – Corrosion protection is one of the biggest plus points of using a product like Prestone. Our Coolant/Antifreeze protects against rust and corrosion for 10 years or 300,000 miles.
  • It’s ready to use – Simply flush and fill the whole system or top-up and go – the choice is yours.
  • Zero deposits – If you use water or low-quality coolant in your car, deposits like limescale can build up and cause problems. Prestone causes zero build-up and deposits, for total efficiency and performance.

image of mechanic checking antifreezeSee Prestone Coolant/Antifreeze in Action

Not convinced Prestone Coolant/Antifreeze is as good as we say? Or perhaps you’re a little nervous about adding the product to your existing tank of coolant? In this video professional mechanic Jonathan Fry demonstrates how the product works and explains why it’s safe to use with different colours of coolant.

At Prestone we’re experts in car maintenance fluids that excel in extremes, including coolant/antifreeze, screen wash and de-icer. For more information or to browse our full product range, visit the homepage today.

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