If you have ever handled coolant or antifreeze, you might have noticed that it has a considerably low viscosity. In fact, you might have found that the viscosity is pretty similar to water. So, does that mean that they are replaceable? Also, can you use water instead of coolant in the summer?
Technically, you can use plain water in the cooling system. The vehicle will run pretty normally. However, you should not use water instead of coolant. Yes, many people think that coolant is for vehicles that tread on the roads of cold countries. But that is not true!
So, what is the problem with water? Why is it not recommended to use water instead of coolant? Stick around to know all about the topic!
Why Do Vehicles Need Coolant in the First Place?
Just like the name suggests, the coolant is there to cool the components of your vehicle. The heat that the standard combustion process generates can build up pretty quickly. And without the coolant, the gasket head can blow, or the cylinder head can start to warp.
The excess heat buildup can also cause severe engine damage. For that reason, a form of coolant is necessary. It keeps the component cool and ensures optimal operation.
What Is Wrong with Water?
Coolant is also referred to as antifreeze. The name “antifreeze” might give you the idea that the liquid is nothing special; it just does not freeze. As a result, it might make you think you do not need to use it if you drive your car during the summer. Well, you would be completely wrong!
At its core, the coolant is an additive. You mix it with water at a specific ratio and put the mixture into the car. This mixture of coolant and water gains a typical freezing temperature of around negative 35 degrees Fahrenheit. And the boiling temperature is generally around 223 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water Freezes Quickly
In comparison, the water has a freezing temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And the boiling point for the water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you were to use water instead of an antifreeze and water mixture, the liquid inside would quickly freeze in cold climates. That will make cracks appear on the heater core and the radiator.
Additionally, there will be warping in the cylinder head and damage to the engine block. For that reason, you should always use a proper mixture of water and coolant when driving in cold climates.
Water Boils Quickly
Yes, there is an issue with water freezing quickly. So, is it okay to use 100 percent water as a coolant during the summer? Not really! As we have mentioned earlier, the boiling point of the water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, a 50/50 mixture of water and coolant has a boiling point of 223 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although that 10 degrees Fahrenheit increase might not seem like a lot, it will save your vehicle from some severe damage. The heat that will form inside the engine can boil the water up pretty quickly. And the worst part is that it will start evaporating inside the engine.
Now, when it starts to evaporate, the engine will not have any coolant at all! That will make it overheat. But that is not all! When the water boils, it will leave minerals behind. These minerals can build up and form clogs inside the engine. And the last thing that you would want inside the engine is clogs.
What Makes a Water and Coolant Mixture Different?
The coolant and water mixture for your vehicle plays a wide number of functions. As stated earlier, it will lower the freezing point of the liquid and raise the boiling point. Both of these are crucial for the engine to work optimally in extreme weather conditions.
In other words, the mixture will stay in a liquid state during extreme operating conditions. It will not freeze up that easily, preventing the engine from having cracks inside. And it will neither boil that quickly, protecting the internal parts and the engine itself from getting severely damaged.
Things to Consider When Mixing Coolant with Water
So, now that you know that you should use a coolant and water mixture instead of 100 percent water, let us talk about a couple of things you need to consider.
Use Distilled Water
A lot of car owners utilize tap water instead of distilled water. Although it will make the engine run properly for a whole, you can face several issues over time. Tap waters usually have a lot of minerals in them. And these minerals can settle on certain parts of the engine, causing blockages in different regions.
For that reason, it is highly recommended to use distilled water instead of tap water. It will not have any minerals in it, which means you will not have to worry about buildups. Distilled water will also lower the chances of the coolant facing any issues regarding the flow.
Get the Right Coolant
You should check the instructions of the manufacturer before choosing a coolant. Some of the coolants might not be suitable for your vehicle. And when you use the wrong coolant, there will be corrosion and rust inside the engine.
It can even damage certain parts of the engine, such as the cylinder gaskets, belts, hoses, and water pump.
Dilute It According to the Instructions
Along with the correct type of coolant information, you will also find the proper dilution ratio instruction in the manual. And we highly recommend following it as an improper dilution can obstruct the flow.
So, can you use water instead of coolant in the summer? The short answer is no! The water has considerably higher freezing and low boiling temperatures than the coolant. For that reason, even though 100 percent water as a coolant seems like a perfect idea for summer, you should not use it on its own.