Skip to main content

Do Coolant Additives Work?

Do Coolant Additives Work?

Store shelves contain several coolant additives that promise to reduce engine heat, control overheating and fight corrosion.

Do coolant additives work? And, if so, are they necessary?

It’s tough to top good ‘ol H2O

First of all, why use coolant additives in the first place?

Straight water is the best coolant one could use. It absorbs and transfers heat better than any other liquid. So, why not just pour purified water into your coolant system and call it done? 

The answer is obvious for those of us who drive in snow six months a year and those of you who face triple-digit temperatures all summer.

Water freezes at 32°F (0°C) and boils at 212°F (100°C).

Clearly, coolant formulators must add something to antifreeze & coolant to expand its application to areas where the weather isn’t perfect 365 days per year. Otherwise your engine would freeze in winter and your cooling system would overheat in summer.

Corrosion control

Not only that, but water corrodes metal.

Running straight water in your vehicle’s cooling system would eventually lead to scale buildup that would plug the heater core and ruin the system.  

It can also hasten corrosion in aluminum components, like radiators and cylinder heads, at an alarming rate. Corrosion can eat through an aluminum radiator until coolant leaks on the ground.

At the very least, drivers in the perfect climate still need to add corrosion inhibitors to straight water to properly cool an engine.

In fact, many racers do this with good results; racetracks typically don’t allow antifreeze & coolant since leaks are difficult to clean up and make the track slippery.

A good antifreeze & coolant hits the mark

A high-quality antifreeze & coolant contains the chemistry needed to deliver protection against freezing, boil-over and corrosion.

A word of caution, however: Avoid the conventional “green” coolants readily found at parts stores and other retailers. 

They contain inorganic salts (phosphate, nitrate, nitrite, silicate, borate, amine), which are responsible for almost all cooling-system scaling problems.

Plus, they deplete quickly, often in two years or less, and can lead to sludge or slime in your radiator, which clog passages and create all sorts of problems.

AMSOIL antifreeze/coolants, on the other hand, deliver durable, long-lasting cooling-system protection.

So, why use coolant additives?

If a good antifreeze & coolant works so well, why bother with coolant additives that promise reduced engine temperatures and added corrosion resistance?

Because racers, competitors and enthusiasts want every advantage they can get to enhance engine performance. And a good coolant additive can provide that edge. 

Reduced engine temperatures

An engine has a temperature “sweet spot” in which it produces maximum power and efficiency. Excessive heat reduces efficiency. It can cause metal parts to expand too much and contact each other, causing wear.

Competitors have a big incentive to tame extreme engine temperatures to protect their expensive engines and maximize their chances to win.

A good coolant additive can help by reducing the surface tension of water and allowing it to more efficiently absorb and transfer heat from the engine.

What are surfactants?

Coolant additives use chemicals called surfactants.

When water is agitated or heated, surface tension holds bubbles together before they burst. Since bubbles are filled with air, they reduce the water’s heat-transfer ability.

Imagine thousands of bubbles in the coolant passages of your engine as it runs. Eliminating these bubbles will allow the water to more closely contact metal, increasing its ability to absorb heat, thereby reducing operating temperatures and increasing efficiency.

Surfactants reduce the water and antifreeze’s surface tension so it can more effectively absorb and transfer heat from the engine.  

Many leading coolant additives, however, contain only one surfactant, limiting their temperature ranges and effectiveness.

AMSOIL DOMINATOR Coolant Boost uses three surfactants, each designed to operate in a different temperature range to increase liquid-to-metal contact from the time the vehicle starts to the time it reaches operating temperature.

As a result, it reduces engine temperatures up to 25°F (14ºC) in straight-water applications.

This helps racers and competitors achieve maximum efficiency and horsepower.

Faster engine warm up

More efficiently transferring engine heat also helps DOMINATOR Coolant Boost warm the engine up to 54% faster.

Racers appreciate this since they waste less fuel warming their engines.

Motorists in cold climates like it because it boosts driver comfort on cold mornings.

Improved corrosion resistance

DOMINATOR Coolant Boost also delivers outstanding corrosion protection. In industry standard testing, it limited corrosion to the six metals most commonly found in cooling systems (copper, solder, brass, steel, cast iron and cast aluminum), easily passing both tests.

Check out the full results here.

Dominator Coolant Boost

Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

Originally posted Nov. 11, 2016

With the worst of winter right around the corner, now is a good time to get your vehicle prepared for the worst. Being based in northern Wisconsin, we at AMSOIL talk a lot about how synthetic lubricants make life a little easier, as the cold air starts to pierce our engines and lungs.

Wherever you may be, nasty road conditions and winter driving can be dangerous, so it’s always a good idea to plan ahead. Weather.com blogged about how bad-weather car accidents are more deadly in the U.S. than many of the worst storms.

Snow, rain, fog and wet pavement all pose a hazard during the season. To be ahead of the game, here are some preparedness tips:

Garage Time

  • Battery check – Cold temperatures are a battery killer. Be sure you’ve got the juice to keep going. Check the terminals for corrosion that needs cleaning and ensure the alternator and belts are in good shape.
  • Antifreeze and coolant – Look for any radiator and hose leaks and top off the reservoir, if necessary. If it’s been several years since you’ve changed the coolant, be sure to get some fresh fluid in there.
  • Windshield wipers and fluids – Make sure the wipers are working and the blades are not worn. Fill the washer reservoir with a good-quality fluid that doesn’t freeze.
  • Brake system– Being able to stop is crucial when roads are slick. Look to see that the floor mats aren’t blocking the pedal. If you notice braking issues, have the brake fluid, pads, rotors and lines checked.
  • Tire pressure and tread – Tires should be checked monthly for wear and proper inflation regardless of the season. Make sure you have a spare tire, and keep a pressure gauge in the vehicle with you.
  • Fuel and oil level – It’s a good idea to keep your fuel tank at least half-full in case you get stranded on the side of the road and need to stay warm. Motor oil should also be topped off.

Emergency Roadside Kit

  • Flashlight – I like to carry an LED flashlight in my truck since they last a long time. But a traditional flashlight works well and tends to be brighter.
  • Tool kit – It should have the basics, including screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench and a socket set. Work gloves, tape, fuses and a good pocket knife or multi-tool are all handy to have as well.
  • Blanket – Not only does it keep you warm in winter, but it can also block out wind and help treat shock victims.
  • Jumper cables – It’s best not to settle for chintzy. Good-quality, thick cables with multi-strand wire, heavy duty clips and extra length can save you from headaches. Invest in four-gauge, 20-foot cables that won’t break the bank and will last a long while.
  • Food and water – Keep a stash of high-energy foods such as granola bars and nuts in the car.
  • Fire extinguisher – Often overlooked, but good to have. A multipurpose A-B-C type is the way to go.
  • First-aid kit – Any kit should contain bandages, gauze and prep pads to stop bleeding and prevent infection.
  • Other items to consider – Maps, shovel, broom, ice scraper and flares.

Even if you don’t get any snow, it’s good to be ready for any emergency. Got any more tips to share? Let us know in the comments.

How Engine Sludge Forms. And How To Prevent It.

How Engine Sludge Forms. And How To Prevent It.

It’s ugly. It’s sludge.

Sludge.

It’s a disgusting phenomenon. Even the word sounds gross, like the thing it’s describing. The word for this is onomatopoeia, a strange word that many of us learned in high school English class. Splash. Grunt. Whoosh. Swish. Hiss. Frumpy. You know what I’m talking about.

What is sludge?

Sludge is a black gelatinous goo that renders equipment inoperable if not dealt with. And long before the engine’s demise, sludge can foul its sensors and interfere with performance. Some mechanics call it the “black death.”

How does motor oil, which is fluid, become a semi-solid paste or gel inside an engine?

How engine sludge forms

Essentially the formation of engine sludge is the result of a series of chemical reactions. The lubricant itself degrades as it is exposed to oxygen and elevated temperatures. The higher the temperature, the more rapid the rate of degradation. The by-products of this reaction form highly reactive compounds that further degrade the lubricant. Their by-products then react with other contaminants, forming organic acids and high-molecular-weight polymeric products. These products further react, forming the insoluble product known more commonly as sludge. What begins as a thin film of lacquer or varnish deposits on hot or cold metal surfaces eventually bakes into an expensive mess.

Synthetic base oils help prevent sludge

Fortunately, sludge and varnish deposits are something we oil manufacturers have a measure of control over. Using thermally stable base oils reduces the rate of initial degradation (oxidation). A good example of this is the use of common synthetic base oils such as API Group III, PAOs and Esters. Anti-oxidant additives help reduce the rate of degradation as well. One of the most widely used is zinc dithiophosphate. Not only is it an excellent oxidation inhibitor, it is an outstanding anti-wear additive as well.

So do high-quality additives

We can further address many of the issues occurring after the initial oxidation stage. Additive chemistry such as detergents and dispersants are commonly part of motor oil formulation. They help promote the suspension of contaminants within the oil and keep them from agglomerating. Detergents, which are also alkaline in nature, assist in neutralizing acids that are generated in the sludge-building process. Anti-oxidant, dispersant and detergent additives are consumed during use. To achieve maximum life expectancy, use an oil with high concentrations of these additives.

Severe service invites sludge

Good lubricants minimize sludge and varnish issues. How the equipment is used also has a bearing on the likelihood of sludge or varnish issues.

Stop-and-go driving, frequent/long-term idling and operation in excessively hot or cold weather can all increase the likelihood of sludge and varnish, especially if using more volatile conventional oils.

Interestingly, most auto manufactures note in their owner’s manual that operation under any of the above conditions is considered severe service and requires more frequent oil changes. From a mechanical standpoint, things like adding too much oil to the oil sump, antifreeze contamination, excessive soot loading, excessive oil foaming, poor engine combustion efficiency, excessive blow-by and emission-control-system issues can all lead to the formation of sludge and varnish.

By practicing good maintenance and using properly formulated, premium synthetic lubricants, like AMSOIL synthetic motor oil, your vehicle won’t succumb to the “black death.”

LOOK UP MY VEHICE

 

All ADVANCED AMSOIL products are available NOW in Sioux Falls at your full time AMSOIL store: The Synthetic Warehouse at 4610 W. 12th St. Sioux Falls, SD 57107

Just 1 block west of I29! 605-274-2580