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The Best Radiator Fluid – Our Top 5 Reviews and Guide for 2017

With the best radiator fluid, you can expect to get maximum performance from your car, not to mention increase its lifespan and save you money. If you’re not happy with what you’re using right now, our radiator fluid reviews and guide could be what you need to help you find something much better. For optimum performance, don’t settle for second best.

Quick Look: Our Top Picks

Radiator Fluid NameQualityPriceRating
Prestone AF2100 Extended Life 50/50 AntifreezeA++$
BMW 82141467704 Grey Antifreeze CoolantA++$$
Genuine Honda Parts OL999-9011 Blue Type 2 CoolantA++$$
Audi Coolant Antifreeze Antigel RefrigerantA++$$
Pentosin 8113106Multipurpose Antifreeze ConcentrateA++$$

Why does your car need radiator fluid?

Your car generates energy by way of engine combustion, and this is the process that enables your car to run. However, this also causes the engine to heat up. Driving at top speed in hot conditions causes the engine to overheat and damage the engine.

To avoid this, cars are built with a cooling system inside the radiator. This cooling system utilizes coolant, a liquid which consists of water and antifreeze (the terms coolant and antifreeze are used interchangeably). Coolant prevents the engine from overheating, and during winter, the antifreeze prevents the engine and its components from freezing.

When should coolant be replaced?

Coolant needs to be replaced once your car has depleted it. The intervals depend on how often you drive your car and under what conditions, so check the manual for details. Topping up your antifreeze isn’t that hard, but you have to make sure it’s of the highest quality.

Most drivers replace the coolant every two to five years. You can either replace the coolant yourself or take your car to a mechanic. Antifreeze contains acids that could take its toll on the engine’s metal parts, so you must replace it. With fresh coolant, you can prevent this from happening, and your engine will continue to receive rust and corrosion protection.

After two to five years, the coolant’s ingredients break down and become harmful to the engine. Before replacing the coolant, you should flush out the system. The only exception to this is if you’re using long-life antifreeze with increased corrosion protection. Long-life coolant is especially useful if you have a vehicle with a diesel engine.

How to replace the radiator fluid

This video shows how it’s done. Remember to check your car’s manual for more details. Make sure the coolant additives have protection from corrosion and rust, and you should also keep the coolant amount at the defined line so your car functions at its optimum level.

Tips for using coolant

  • Make sure you’re using the coolant that is most appropriate for your car.
  • There is little danger in using an IAT coolant if your car requires OAT, but you’re not going to get maximum performance from the vehicle.
  • There are a lot of antifreeze coolants labeled as universal, but they’re basically OAT.
  • Wear safety glasses and gloves before replacing the coolant.

Types of car coolants

There are three types of car antifreeze, but while their formulation differs, your car can run on any of them. However, you should check your owner’s manual for information for any recommended types. You also have to consider what type of additives you want the formula to have.

Inorganic acid technology (IAT)

This coolant is for 1920s to 1990s US-made cars. IAT coolant is a bright green color and has phosphate corrosion inhibitors to prevent the engine metals from corroding. Cars with IAT coolants are usually flushed out every 30,000 miles, but you’ll rarely find new cars using this.

Organic acid technology (OAT)

These coolants come in various colors. It is also green, like IAT, but usually in a darker shade, and some OAT come in orange or other colors. The OAT coolant also has anti-corrosion elements that allow it to last longer than IAT.

OAT coolants only need to be replaced every 2 to 5 years or every 150,000 miles. These coolants are designed for newer cars, so it’s more practical to use. They are also safe for different vehicles too.

Hybrid organic acid technology (HOAT)

HOAT coolants contain silicates, so there’s extra protection against corrosion. Often in yellow or orange, these coolants have corrosion inhibitors as well as additives to reduce rust. Like OAT, HOAT coolants are replaced every 150,000 miles or 5 years.

What kind of radiator fluid should be used?

Refer to your car manual as it provides information about the coolant that must be used. You can also determine the right coolant type by checking its color or visiting your car manufacturer website.

Here’s a quick guide:

  • HOAT—Suitable for Chrysler, American, European and Asian cars, mostly new models
  • OAT—For GM, VW, Toyota, and Honda
  • IAT—Most GM, Chrysler, and Ford cars from the 1920s to the 1990s

All coolants are based on any of the three, but they will have different formulas. Read the product description to find out if it fits your needs or if you should look somewhere else.

Once you have determined what type of coolant works best for your car, you can now focus on the brand. Make sure they’re reliable, can be counted upon, and have come up with quality products.

Radiator Fluid NameQualityPriceRating
Prestone AF2100 Extended Life 50/50 AntifreezeA++$
BMW 82141467704 Grey Antifreeze CoolantA++$$
Genuine Honda Parts OL999-9011 Blue Type 2 CoolantA++$$
Audi Coolant Antifreeze Antigel RefrigerantA++$$
Pentosin 8113106Multipurpose Antifreeze ConcentrateA++$$

Prestone AF2100 Extended Life 50/50 Antifreeze

Prestone AF2100 Extended Life 50/50 Antifreeze

The AF2100 comes with quality Cor-Guard inhibitors to reduce corrosion. Even when your car’s engine runs at high speed, AF2100 prevents the components from overheating.

The coolant formula works with all popular car makes and models, and it’s compatible with light trucks as well. When used properly, the coolant will extend the life of your car’s engine and provide better performance. The formula has also been specially prepared for use with any metal engine, including aluminum.

The formula is low silicate and ethylene glycol, and the coolant is good for 150,000 miles or 5 years. While it’s meant for use in cars and light trucks, this is also good enough for boats.

There is not a lot to complain about with this coolant. Once you flush the system and pour it in, you’re going to see the difference when it comes to your car’s performance. This is especially good for cars that see a lot of action in hot weather and rugged driving conditions.

Pros

  • Works with all engine metals
  • Good for up to 5 years
  • Excellent anti-corrosion properties

Cons

BMW 82141467704 Grey Antifreeze Coolant

BMW 82141467704 Grey Antifreeze Coolant-5be9fb3096881

The BMW antifreeze, as the name makes clear, is a coolant formulated for BMWs. If you’ve got a BMW, you don’t want to settle for second-rate replacements; this should extend to the radiator fluid, which is what you get here. This coolant was developed by BMW specifically to enhance their car’s optimum performance.

The BMW coolant has a rich blue color and allows your car’s engine to run in hot and cold weather. The coolant has also been formulated, so it provides optimum transference of heat. The coolant also keeps the engine from corroding, whether it’s hot or cold.

This coolant contains ingredients that provide full-engine protection, and it also seals the components to prevent damage. The coolant formula also protects plastic cooling systems.

A look at the formula reveals that it is free of phosphate and nitrate, so you get a better engine performance. When properly used, the coolant keeps your car’s cooling system at the proper level. Instructions are provided for its use, and they’re really straightforward, so it’s ideal for any car owner.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Enhances engine performance
  • Good protection for various engine metals

Cons

  • Packaging could be better

BUY THIS ONE

Genuine Honda Parts OL999-9011 Blue Type 2 Coolant

Genuine Honda Parts OL999-9011 Blue Type 2 Coolant-5be9fb3209264

The Honda Blue Type 2 Coolant is formulated for all Honda makes and models. To get maximum performance from your car, you have to use only components that are made for it. This shouldn’t just be for the car’s parts, but also the coolant you use it for. With the Honda Blue Type 2 Coolant, you get the same liquid which your car uses.

This is an OEM coolant which provides your car with the best possible performance. With this product, you get an ethylene glycol-base coolant that provides the best possible protection for aluminum components; this is the kind of protection your car needs for continuous driving.

With regular use, the coolant keeps your Honda engine in mint condition. It also prevents corrosion and provides protection of all the major components. You also don’t need to use any other corrosion inhibitors as it is built-in. When used on a regular basis, you only need to replace it every 60,000 miles or 5 years.

Pros

  • Compatible with all Honda cars
  • No need for additional corrosion inhibitors
  • Provides long lasting protection

Cons

  • May not work with other cars

BUY THIS ONE

Audi Coolant Antifreeze Antigel Refrigerant

Audi Coolant Antifreeze Antigel Refrigerant

The Audi coolant contains antifreeze to prevent engine overheating during the summer. The coolant also provides superior protection for your cooling system so the engine doesn’t suffer damage. With this in your car’s engine, the components won’t deteriorate even with constant use.

Aside from engine overheating protection, the Audi Coolant also keeps your engine in good shape during the winter. During the cold season your car’s components become vulnerable to freezing, but with this coolant, your car won’t suffer the same fate. The coolant is also aluminum compatible, and won’t cause any damage.

As the name suggests, the coolant is made specifically for Audis and VWs, but the formula is also safe for other cars, light trucks, and other vehicles. When used on a consistent basis, the coolant will keep your car running in optimum condition. Because the coolant has ethylene glycol, your car gets maximum protection from calcium deposits, corrosion, overheating, and frost.

This is a very effective antifreeze and it performs as well as you might expect. With this, you don’t have to keep replacing radiator fluids anymore.

Pros

  • Compatible with aluminum
  • Provides protection against corrosion
  • Prevents overheating

Cons

  • More suited for Audis and VWs than other cars

BUY THIS ONE

Pentosin 8113106 Pentofrost E Multipurpose Antifreeze Concentrate

Pentosin 8113106 Pentofrost E Multipurpose Antifreeze Concentrate-5be9fb33ae8fe

The Pentofrost is a phosphate-free coolant, so there won’t be any harmful effects on your car. The formula is also safe enough for use in Jeeps and light trucks, and with consistent use, your car’s engine will no longer be susceptible to overheating.

The formula is easily mixed with water and when properly used, protects your car engine from cracking due to heat. This same coolant also keeps your engine running in good condition during the cold season. With this antifreeze concentrate, your car’s engine will be able to withstand the freezing cold and not affect its performance.

A single use of the coolant leads to protection all year round against overheating, corrosion, and freezing. The protection level is good for up to 228°F with a 50/50 water/coolant mix.

Its combination of glycol and glycerin gives it better resistance against corrosion, and it doesn’t have any phosphorous, amines, or nitrates. Another benefit of this coolant is it is compatible with all non-ferrous engine metals.

Pros

  • Doesn’t contain any harsh additives
  • Leads to better engine performance
  • Prevents overheating

Cons

  • Not compatible with very old vehicles

BUY THIS ONE

Our Verdict

There a lot of radiator fluids, but as you have probably noticed, the performance ranges from the excellent to the questionable; that’s why we decided to help. We’ve had experience with low-quality radiator fluids and weren’t happy with the results, and we can tell you that these five products won’t disappoint. But, for the most bang for your buck, we’d pick the Prestone AF2100.

We like the Prestone AF2100 for several reasons. The first is its efficiency—you don’t need to replace it often to get maximum performance, and the fact that it’s good for 5 years/150,000 miles says a lot about its quality. The other thing is the brand name, as Prestone is recognized for their quality products.

The AF2100 is also compatible with all types of coolants, so that’s another advantage. With radiator fluids, what you look for is dependability; just replace the liquid and you will feel the difference when you drive.The AF2100 is a well-made antifreeze and doesn’t disappoint at all.

The other radiator fluids here are of good quality, but there’s no question in our minds that the Prestone AF2100 is the winner.

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