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Antifreeze - Red, Green or Universal, That is the Question!


Every Spring we work on getting our classics ready for the road and this year our car's maintenance log shows that the Morris Minor and E-type need a coolant system flush. So we venture off to the auto parts stores to buy for our conventional green coolant, when we noticed that various brands offering a "universal coolant" claim to be good for any year, make and model car.

Typically, we always stick with the manufacturers recommended fluids but are intrigued by only needing one type of coolant on hand for our newer and older cars. Our older cars use an "inorganic acid" coolant and is green in color. Our 2004 Jaguar XJ8 uses the new "organic acid technology," or OAT and is orange in color.

The promise of OAT is long-life corrosion protection, six years/ 100,000 miles instead of the two years/50,000 miles that is typical with the old green stuff. But it can eat away at our older style radiators with lead solder and erode metals in other areas of their cooling systems.

So back to the house we go to do a "Google" search on the "universal coolant" option.

We found new universal coolants use a unique OAT-based corrosion packages with proprietary organic acids (such as carboxylate) to provide broad spectrum protection. And after consulting with our local car clubs and mechanics who have been using the newer technology with out incident, we found compelling arguments to try a universal coolant in our classics on these conditions:

  • Completely flush the old coolant
  • Continue the 2 years/50,000 mile schedule
  • Periodically test the coolant's pH, nitrite and freeze point

So now we carry one brand of coolant for all our cars which saves much needed space in the garage.

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