RV antifreeze vs Car antifreeze

In this blog post, we will discuss RV antifreeze vs Car antifreeze. We will explain the main differences between the two and teach you how to know which antifreeze is best for your vehicle. 

RV antifreeze vs Car antifreeze

There are major differences between RV antifreeze and car antifreeze. Please do not swap or mix them, as it can cause serious damage to the engine of your vehicle. See the main differences between RV antifreeze vs Car antifreeze below:

CriteriaRV antifreezeCar Antifreeze
Colour PinkGreen, Yellow or Red
IngredientsEthanol or propylene glycolEthylene glycol or propylene glycol & other chemicals
Used forEngine, water tank, plumbing systemThe engine

Freezing liquids expand with extreme force according to the laws of physics. The force of this expansion can cause serious damage to pipes and other structures found in RV plumbing systems or automobile cooling systems. 

Antifreeze solutions are available to prevent damage in cold weather conditions. The type of antifreeze required depends on the system, with motor homes and cars having significantly different requirements for freeze protection.

What is RV Antifreeze?

RV antifreeze is usually sold at discount stores or RV dealerships, but it is also found at hardware stores or auto parts stores. It is usually pink in colour and can be made up of ethanol or propylene glycol, or a mixture of both. 

RV antifreeze is not toxic, although you don’t want to ingest large amounts of it. Propylene glycol antifreeze is generally preferred for other mixes, as it is less likely to leave a taste or odour in RV plumbing systems when used as directed.

What is Car Antifreeze?

Automotive antifreeze is generally made up of ethylene glycol or propylene glycol, along with other chemicals. Automotive antifreeze formulas differ based on their colour, as this makes it easy to tell which type is being used. 

Each vehicle manufacturer has its own requirements for antifreeze. Automotive antifreeze is highly toxic and can kill people or pets if swallowed, even in relatively small amounts.

Proper mixing procedures: Most automobile antifreeze needs to be mixed with water to achieve maximum levels of protection and the specified heat transfer properties for the vehicle. The usual ratio of antifreeze to water is one part water to one part antifreeze, but when extreme freeze protection is needed, the ratio can be as high as 70 per cent antifreeze. Some automotive antifreeze formulas are sold pre-mixed. RV antifreeze usually does not mix with water, and doing so can weaken its protective properties.

Precautions: Many varieties of automotive antifreeze are bitter at discouraging animals from drinking the toxic liquid. Dogs drink large amounts of automotive antifreeze that is not treated with souring agents because automotive antifreeze tastes sweet. Make sure you have properly used antifreeze. Some RV ethanol-based antifreeze is flammable. Follow all safety instructions on the label.

Can you 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.

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 about RV antifreeze vs Car antifreeze

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.


Leave a Comment