What if you can use water as a coolant instead? Why You Shouldn’t

Do you remember putting water in your coolant tank instead of using antifreeze to make it more efficient? You wouldn’t be the first person to do so. It is common for people to substitute coolant with distilled water, especially in hot areas. It's not necessary to have a liquid that will stop it freezing, if the temperature is never below 32°F. It is safe to use water for coolant.

Sure, water is cheaper and might prevent overheating, but this isn’t all that coolant is good for. It’s needed for proper cooling system function. Let’s take a closer look. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. Is it possible to use water instead of coolant?
  2. Comparison of Coolant and Water
    1. 1. Boiling Point
    2. 2. Point of Freezing
    3. 3. Corrosion Protection
  3. What's Coolant/Antifreeze?
  4. How does coolant work?
  5. Coolant: Why is it Important?
  6. The Right Way To Add Coolant

Is it possible to use water instead of coolant?

If you don't have any coolant, water can be used instead. After repairing the leak, it is a good idea to immediately fill your system with the right coolant mixture. You should never drive using only water.

Long-term water use is not recommended, even though you may live in warm areas. If you use only water, it can lead to internal rust and overheating as well as other problems with the engine.

Comparison of Coolant and Water

1. Boiling Point

Many people don't consider the differences in the boiling points of water and coolant. However, it’s clear that the operating temperature of your vehicle is going to be hotter than the boiling point of water (212°F). 

When you mix ethylene glycol antifreeze in a 50/50 ratio, the boiling point rises to 223°F. That figure is much closer to the engine’s operating temperature. Using waterless coolant changes the boiling point to 375°F or more. 

Without antifreeze, the vehicle’s engine is going to overheat. Your vehicle will heat up and the liquid within it will evaporate. You must stop your car so that it can cool down. Overheating can cause engine damage. 

2. Point of Freezing

You can say the exact opposite if your climate is cooler. The cooling system will not produce antifreeze, which would cause it to freeze. 

If your radiator freezes you will have serious problems. Your cooling system could even be rendered useless if the radiator cracks. 

3. Corrosion Protection

As the water minerals build up, they can deposit in your radiator and cause problems. Because water is corrosive to metallic, rust will form quicker. This combination is dangerous for the engine of your vehicle. That's why coolant comes with special additives to prevent rust.

Use distilled water when mixing antifreeze. There are no impurities. You can ensure that the components of the antifreeze mixture are protected properly, which will allow them to last a lifetime. 

What's Coolant/Antifreeze?

Although they may be slightly different, coolant and freeze are often interchangeable. For maximum protection, antifreeze is composed of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. 

Mixing antifreeze with distilled water at a 50/50 rate makes it a coolant. There are many colors available for antifreeze, including green, pink and yellow as well as red, blue, or blue. It is easier to find the right antifreeze for you vehicle by using these colors. 

RELATED: 10 Best Engine Antifreeze & Coolants

How does coolant work?


The engine creates heat when you drive it. It needs constant cooling to keep the vehicle running smoothly. If the engine weren’t cooled down, it would lead to complete motor failure.

Coolant flows through the coolant system to the passages in the engine block and cylinder heads. Coolant is absorbed heat by the engine as it passes through.

The heated fluid flows from the engine to radiator. As it goes through the radiator’s thin tubes, it gets cooled off because of the air coming through the front of the vehicle. There’s also a fan blowing on the radiator to cool it off. 

The coolant flows back from the radiator into the engine. Coolant circulates through the system to cool it. 

Coolant: Why is it Important?

Heat buildup from internal combustion engines can result in costly repairs. The head gasket can blow and cause severe engine damage.

When water is used in the motor, it evaporates and boils, leaving behind fluid. On the other hand, in cold climates, there’s a higher risk that the water will freeze, which leads to cracks in the radiator, a cracked engine block or failure of the heater core. 

Every automaker is different and requires a specific coolant to provide protection. You don’t want to use antifreeze other than the one that is recommended, or you could do more harm than good. 

The Right Way To Add Coolant

Check the levels of coolant before starting. Don’t open the radiator cap while the engine is hot because pressure has built up inside, leading to spraying hot liquid when the cap is removed. 

Open the coolant reservoir cap once the engine is cool. Check the coolant level on the tank by looking inside. 

You can add more coolant if necessary. Mix the antifreeze as directed using distilled or filtered water. You can skip this step if the coolant is already mixed.

Pour the coolant into the overflow tank, but don’t fill it as this fluid expands when it gets hot. If your vehicle doesn’t have an overflow tank, you can pour it right into the radiator, but don’t surpass the “full” marking. 

Now, put the cap back on the engine and turn it on. Also, inspect your radiator and hoses to make sure there are no leaks. Your engine will run smoothly if you take care of it with the correct fluid.

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