In the world of automotive engineering, few fluids are as essential as engine coolant. Whether you drive a traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle or are one of the growing numbers of Electric Vehicle (EV) enthusiasts, understanding the importance of engine coolant is crucial. In this blog, we’ll explore the fascinating world of engine coolant, exploring its role in maintaining the optimal performance, efficiency, and longevity of both ICE and EVs.
What is Engine Coolant?
Engine coolant, often referred to as antifreeze, is a specialised fluid that plays a pivotal role in maintaining the temperature of your vehicle’s engine. While its primary purpose is to prevent the engine from overheating, it also serves various other vital functions for both ICE and EVs.
ICE Vehicles: The Heartbeat of Combustion
In traditional ICE vehicles, engine coolant is a lifeline. These vehicles generate power through controlled bursts of fuel in the combustion chamber. This process generates immense heat, and without a coolant system, the engine would quickly overheat, leading to severe damage.
Heat Regulation: Engine coolant circulates through the engine, absorbing excess heat and carrying it away to the radiator, dissipating into the air. This process prevents dangerously high temperatures.
Freeze Protection: Engine coolant is formulated to prevent freezing in cold climates. This protection prevents cracked engine blocks and cold-weather-related issues.
Corrosion Prevention: Engine coolant contains corrosion inhibitors that protect the engine and other components from rust and corrosion. The corrosion inhibitors contribute to an extended lifespan of critical engine parts.
Electric Vehicles: Silent Saviors
Electric vehicles may not have combustion engines, but they rely heavily on a robust cooling system to maintain the health of their electric motors and battery packs.
Battery Cooling: The lithium-ion battery pack in an EV generates heat during charging and discharging cycles. Excessive heat can degrade battery performance and reduce its lifespan. Engine coolant is used to cool the battery, ensuring it operates within the optimal temperature range.
Motor Cooling: Electric motors in EVs also generate heat; overheating can lead to a loss of efficiency and power. Coolant circulates through the motor to dissipate this heat.
Enhancing Efficiency: Maintaining the right temperature is critical for optimising an EV’s efficiency. The vehicle can achieve maximum range and performance when the battery and motor operate at the ideal temperature.
The Green Side of Coolant
While engine coolant’s primary function is temperature regulation, it also plays a role in the environmental impact of both ICE and EVs.
Reducing Emissions: In ICE vehicles, a properly functioning cooling system ensures efficient combustion, reducing harmful emissions. In EVs, efficient temperature control prolongs battery life, reducing the need for premature replacements and battery waste.
Energy Efficiency: In EVs, maintaining the right temperature reduces the energy required for cooling, ultimately increasing the vehicle’s overall energy efficiency.
When do I check my Engine Coolant?
It is ideal to check your Engine Coolant twice a year, once before Summer starts and the second time before the start of Winter. However, each vehicle is different so this advice may vary depending on the manufacturer of the vehicle. Engine Coolant should be topped up when the current level is below the provided guide marks. If a vehicle engine is running well with no leaks or damages, you should expect a loss of 0.25% every four to six months. On average, losing two to three ounces a year of coolant is normal.
How do I top up Engine Coolant?
- Open the vehicle bonnet and locate the engine coolant reservoir. It is often a translucent white colour and has a hose connecting to the radiator.
- Loosen the reservoir cap just a little, step back, and let the pressure release. Then remove the cap completely.
- If the coolant level is low, add the correct coolant to the reservoir (not the radiator itself). You can use the diluted coolant by itself or a 50/50 mixture of concentrated coolant and tap water.
- Once it is at the fill line, give it a few minutes to make sure it does not recede. After that, you’re safe to drive again.
A Liquid Lifesaver
In the world of automotive engineering, engine coolant is a silent hero, playing a vital role in ensuring the smooth operation, longevity, and eco-friendliness of vehicles, whether they rely on the fiery power of internal combustion or the silent hum of electric motors. As we continue to innovate in the world of transportation, one thing remains clear: engine coolant is a critical component that cannot be overlooked. So, the next time you step into your vehicle, ICE or EV, take a moment to appreciate the liquid lifeline that keeps your vehicle running smoothly, no matter how you choose to power your journey.