Is Coolant The Same As Antifreeze?

Coolant and antifreeze very often come up in the same sentence, and very regularly are confused, but did you know that making sure you’re using the right coolant or antifreeze could very well be the difference between happy motoring and an expensive trip to the garage.

Are Antifreeze and Coolant the Same Thing?

You may find that the terms ‘coolant’ and ‘antifreeze’ are almost used interchangeably, and while they do the same job, they are not the same. The difference between the two simply changes how you work with them before they are added to your car’s engine.

What’s the Difference Between Antifreeze and Coolant


  • A liquid that is predominantly made of ethylene glycol and as a result is difficult to boil or freeze.
  • Comes in a concentrated form and must be diluted before it is added to your car.
  • Once you have added the water it is considered ‘coolant’ as opposed to antifreeze.


  • Usually has a 50/50 ratio of antifreeze to water.
  • The water helps the antifreeze take on the intense heat of the engine and regulate your engine to stay at its optimum operating temperatures.

So, as you can see, antifreeze and coolant are not the same thing. Antifreeze can become coolant, but coolant cannot become antifreeze. Premixed or prediluted containers of coolant are commonly sold at service stations as its purpose is to keep the engine running safely while it’s in motion by lowering the temperature, but the antifreeze within it stops this cooling fluid from freezing while the car is not in use during cold weather.

Pure antifreeze, on the other hand, is unlikely to be needed once your car gets going as it will heat itself up and prevent any parts (perhaps with the exception of the windscreen) from icing over.

Can I Mix Antifreeze with Coolant

Mixing antifreeze with coolant is an incredibly risky business and should be avoided at all costs. Mixing the two together will mess around with the ratio between antifreeze and coolant, and using an incorrect mixture can lead to your cooling system not working properly, in turn potentially damaging your engine. 

Both antifreeze and coolant come as brightly coloured liquids, but do not use these colours to identify between the two – a number of different colours can be used for the same type of coolant, so you could be mixing two different liquids without realising.

Can I Use Antifreeze Instead Of Coolant?

In a word, no. Antifreeze is designed to stop parts of your car from icing over in extremely cold weather. Therefore, it has no cooling properties – if anything, it could be considered to have the opposite effect!

If you try to use antifreeze as a replacement for coolant, your engine will reach dangerously high temperatures and do significant damage to itself and potentially other parts of your car, too. Some tell tale signs of this sort of damage can include excessive temperature readings on your dashboard apparatus, steam coming from beneath your bonnet, horrible noises and potentially even fire! If this has happened to you and you want to try and salvage your engine, it’s best to take it to a garage as soon as possible.

Do I Need Antifreeze or Coolant For My Car

It’s always best to ensure that you use the same type, and brand, of coolant when topping up, so to be certain you’re using the right stuff, consult the recommendations of the manufacturer of your car, or visit your local garage, who will know what you need to use.

How To Choose The Right Engine Coolant For My Car

As with most of these kind of questions, your first port of call should be the vehicle’s user handbook. This will have the detailed specification for every part of your car, including the type of coolant required, listed within it.

Alternatively, most modern retailers offer a service that allows them to identify the type of coolant – or other products, like oil – that your vehicle uses. This is done by using your car’s number plate to identify the exact make, model and variant of the vehicle. Better still, if you’ve not read our guide on how to fill your car with coolant, they’ll probably be able to do this for you too. If you’d like to learn more about which coolant is right for your car, check out our in-depth explanatory guide here.

If your car has had an issue as a result of the wrong coolant, or poor coolant levels, then chances are you’re going to be looking at a pricey engine repair bill. Rather than emptying your bank account, why not fill it? Here at Scrap Car Comparison we can guarantee you the very best price possible for your vehicle, and we’ll even come and collect it no matter where you are, free of charge.

For hints, tips, and general guides on how to keep you and your car on the road, visit our Car Care hub, where we talk you through everything from driving lessons to changing your brake fluid, and everything in between. 

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