THE WHEEL STUDZ
Tim Gorman & Keith Pershing
Why would we need antifreeze when our cars stay in Florida? This important component of your vehicle easily gets neglected but plays a critical role in keeping your vehicle running.
Antifreeze/Engine Coolant works to dissipate heat that is produced by your engine running. It’s located in your engine cooling system (not you’re A/C System, as popularly confused). “Antifreeze is a bit of a misnomer in Florida,” Tim explains “It’s not the non-freezing, it’s the lubricating, anticorrosive, stabilizing qualities that makes antifreeze so important here.” The lubrication helps water to keep flowing in the engine so that the water doesn’t corrode the engine equipment. Antifreeze works to keep the engine cooling system from freezing over. This coolant prevents the engine from overheating.
Believe it or not, many different kinds of alcohol were originally used to keep the cooling system from freezing in the winter. “Seems like such a waste,” Keith jokes. Water was the original coolant product. Unfortunately, the water would easily freeze in the winter and cause possible engine damage. The alcohol lowered the boiling point of the water in the summer, which caused the water to quickly evaporate and cause engines to overheat more frequently. Antifreeze was developed in the 1930’s and was a seemingly easy fix to keep cars running year round. Permanent antifreeze (an improvement) was created to generate winter anti-freeze and summer anti-boil characteristics.
Today’s engines are made of several dissimilar metals including, tin, aluminum, steel, cast iron, etc. “For you boaters, there is no sacrificial zinc on the engine,” Tim states. “The engine parts become sacrificial” Keith says. Luckily in Southwest Florida we don’t necessarily need to “winterize our vehicles.” “Studded snow tires don’t seem effective here,” sarcastically declares Tim. For Southerners and Semi- Southerners, changing and checking your antifreeze is still important. “Cars have extended life antifreeze…that doesn’t mean lifetime. It is easily forgotten,” Keith says.
Vehicle owners should consult their owners’ manuals to determine when antifreeze should be changed. Average life is 5 years, 60,000 miles. Some vehicles have more or less. If any water has been added to your tank, the antifreeze life has actually been reduced. Remember that even though you are in Florida, cooling system maintenance is required and your local auto repair facility is likely to use recycled and environmentally friendly products. Tim explains, “There’s no tell tale sign to knowing when your antifreeze needs to be changed. However, with the proper testing, technicians can check your antifreeze pH, specific gravity, odor, and discoloration.”
“Or you can just wait until the failed antifreeze/coolant eats through expensive gaskets and metal engine components,” retorts Keith.
For questions and ideas for future articles, please contact Tim and Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org