Car engines get hot no matter what time of the year. They need to be cooled as they are driven so they don’t overheat and shut down. An engine coolant is a heat transfer fluid designed to remove excess heat from an internal combustion engine. An operating automobile engine typically converts only about one third of its energy into work that moves the vehicle. The rest is converted into heat, some of which is removed through the vehicle’s exhaust system. This leaves the remaining heat in the engine blocked. A coolant is needed to absorb this extra heat. Once absorbed, it is transported to the radiator, and transferred the environment. Controlling these high temperatures is the job of the cooling system.
The cooling system allows the engine to operate efficiently. Engine coolant is a generic term used to describe fluids that remove heat from an engine, which in effect cools’ the engine. Today’s cooling system maintains the engine at a constant temperature, whether the outside air temperature is 110 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 below zero. If the engine temperature is too low, fuel economy will suffer and emissions will rise. If the temperature is allowed to get too high for too long, the engine will self-destruct.
There are many different fluids that can act as heat transfer materials but not all can handle the extreme heat generated by an automobile engine. Determining what coolant is best is based on the environment the engine is used and what the engine is made of. Some environments such as those found in Canada may expose an engine to periods of extreme cold. In order for the coolant to function properly it must remain in its liquid state. The heat transfer fluid must be impervious to freezing and must possess anti-freezing characteristics. This is the reason that engine coolant is sometimes referred to as antifreeze. Antifreeze is a more specific term used to describe products that provide protection against freezing. Many people use the terms coolant and antifreeze interchangeably.
The coolant must also have the ability to remain fluid under extreme heat. It cannot boil or form vapors because this would greatly reduce its ability to transfer the heat being generated. An efficient heat transfer fluid for use in automobile engines will have a low freezing point and an elevated boiling point to ensure its capacity to perform in all weather and operational situations.