Can you use RV antifreeze in a car?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Can you use RV antifreeze in a car? We will explain what antifreeze is, why your car needs it and what type of antifreeze to use for your vehicle. 

Can you use RV antifreeze in a car?

No, you cannot use RV antifreeze in a car. Do not use RV antifreeze in a car, or vice versa. Not all antifreeze is the same!  Antifreeze agents have 90% glycol and 10% additives. Glycol is a carbohydrate responsible for the primary function of antifreeze protection. 

The additives are intended for corrosion protection and lubrication. These additives have to be adjusted precisely to the requirements of the vehicle. Material mixes in rubber hoses and gaskets vary by manufacturer. 

If the correct antifreeze is not added to the car, the consequences can be serious – the cooling hoses and the cylinder head gasket are irretrievably corroded. Therefore, using the wrong antifreeze causes a total engine breakdown. Luckily they are quite easy to differentiate since each antifreeze has a different colour.

When in a hurry, colours can be taken as a reference. It is strongly recommended to always choose the present colour. The colours should not be mixed in any case.

The additives in the antifreeze could react and precipitate the destruction of the engine from the inside. For precise information on the correct antifreeze, consult the vehicle’s instruction manual and the fluid container’s information.

Why do we need Antifreeze anyway?

Internal combustion engines generate heat during operation, which reduces engine performance. To avoid this, cars have a cooling circuit that dissipates part of this heat to the outside.

The cooling system is a set of elements made up of the water pump, thermostat, temperature sensors, electric fans, hoses or pipes, radiators, expansion tank or tank, and the coolant or antifreeze.

During the third operating time of the heat engine called the explosion time, very high temperatures are reached inside the cylinder and specifically in the combustion chamber.

The heat that is generated must be dissipated to the atmosphere and regulate the operating temperature of the engine, by synchronizing all the components of the cooling system, but if there is any element that fails, it can cause the temperature to rise more than allowed and generate damage to the cylinder head gasket, auto-detonation of the fuel and in the worst case the engine is seized or seized.

To keep the engine cooling system in good condition, we must use the antifreeze-coolant recommended by each vehicle manufacturer. There are different types of antifreeze-coolants, these being the following:

  • Anti Corrosive Coolant

It is a coolant that incorporates anti-corrosive additives to prevent corrosion in the cooling system’s elements. There are different degrees of concentration, that is, the higher the concentration of anticorrosive, the better it will fulfil its function. This type of refrigerant achieves a higher boiling point, preventing overheating, freezing in winter, and forming metal oxides.

It is used for cold climates and has the particularity of preventing the coolant-antifreeze liquid from freezing at temperatures close to 0º or below. Among the types of antifreeze coolants we can highlight the following:

It is an antifreeze made up of ethylene glycol, the antifreeze component, and distilled or demineralized water, which is responsible for ensuring protection against corrosion of the engine’s different parts, such as the radiator, etc. It is a more regular antifreeze for a long time and is biodegradable, less harmful to the environment.

This type of antifreeze has the advantages of lasting longer, they generate less solid deposits inside the cooling circuit, they have low electrical conductivity and the boiling point is higher.

  • Inorganic antifreeze

It uses products such as silicates, which over time degrade, causing breakdowns in the cooling system and accelerating corrosion. They have a low percentage of corrosion inhibitors and other additives, which means that their durability is more limited and their brighter colour characterizes them.

It is an antifreeze that combines the technology of organic and inorganic. They are made up of ethylene glycol, glycerin and antifoam and limescale additives and a neutralising reserve that will protect the refrigeration circuit. They can also incorporate silicates to protect aluminium surfaces, being used by many vehicle manufacturers.

To avoid having problems in our vehicle’s cooling circuit, it is recommended not to mix with antifreeze other than that indicated by the manufacturer, thus avoiding premature breakdowns in the circuit.

How do you know what antifreeze to use and what colour?

The colours of the antifreeze will determine its characteristics, always taking into account that each manufacturer uses a different colour code, so we cannot be guided solely by the colours when adding the antifreeze to our vehicle.

The colours that we can find in antifreeze are usually green, orange, yellow, blue or pink, each colour representing their efficiency level. It should be noted that the freezing temperature will be related to the amount of ethylene glycol (antifreeze) that it incorporates.

An antifreeze with 10% ethylene glycol establishes that the temperature for which it can be used ranges from -4ºC to 102ºC and if the concentration is 25%, the temperatures for use range from -12.5ºC to 103ºC. The maximum level of ethylene glycol concentration is 50% and can act between -37ºC and 108ºC.

Currently, there are G11, G12, G12 +, G12 ++ and G13 antifreeze, but when choosing the antifreeze, we do not have to base ourselves on which is the best, but which is the most suitable for our engine and environmental conditions wherever it goes. to circulate the vehicle.

Both in the expansion tank and in the vehicle book, the type of antifreeze that the engine incorporates is specified so as not to make mistakes. We always have to use antifreeze of the same brand and with the same characteristics, but if this is not possible, we must remember that we cannot mix organic and inorganic antifreeze or either of these two with a hybrid one.

If we mix antifreeze from different sources, we can cause problems in the refrigeration circuit, even if it is only to fill or add to complete the expansion tank level. Regarding the antifreeze G11, G12, G12 +, G12 ++ and G13, only G12 ++ and G13 can be mixed, therefore, G11, G12, G12 +, must be used without mixing them with any and only with another of the characteristics.

The bottom line

When we read the antifreeze characteristics on the bottle, we can see that it should not be mixed with water. They should not be mixed with another of a different colour, but we can add yellow coolant to a vehicle that already uses a yellow one since the basic properties will be the same. 

Always follow the vehicle manufacturer’s advice and recommendations and add the ideal antifreeze for each type of engine.

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions about the content.

FAQ  on Can you use RV antifreeze in a car?

When do you have to change the antifreeze in your car?

How often the antifreeze should be changed depends on the antifreeze itself, because certain products require regular replacement, while others, such as G12, last longer. As a general rule, vehicle manufacturers recommend checking the cooling system twice a year (filling level check) and, if necessary, replacing the radiator antifreeze at least every 50,000 km.

What do the antifreeze colours mean?

The antifreeze colours do not necessarily say anything about the quality of the antifreeze or its ingredients, but rather indicate different standards and technologies. 

For example, G48 and G11 contain a silicate and the liquid is usually blue and/or green. G12 antifreeze, on the other hand, glows pink or red, while those with G12 +, G12 ++, G30, and G40 have a purple tint. Finally, G13 is composed of a distinctly purple liquid.

Is it allowed to mix antifreeze?

No, you should never mix different types of antifreeze, even if they are the same colour. The reason for this is that certain mixtures can produce aggressive acids. Radiator antifreeze also contains additives to prevent corrosion. If different types of antifreeze are mixed, their effect can be impaired, so the protection of the cooling system is no longer guaranteed. 

Therefore, it is better to use a single product, mix it with distilled water and, if necessary, consult an expert who can guarantee the safety of mixtures, as is the case with G13 purple radiator antifreeze with other products, for example.


Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!