Why Water Should Never Be Used as Car Coolant

  • Undated Photo of an Individual Pouring Water in Car Radiator System
    Undated Photo of an Individual Pouring Water in Car Radiator System
    Car Empire
  • Owning a car is one thing, but managing it is an uphill task especially if one is not familiar with the necessary and basic skills. 

    One of the most common misconceptions among most people is that using pure distilled water when their car is overheating will solve the problem. It is easy to look for a cheaper alternative and water can become far more attractive in this scenario. However, the repercussions are far more hurtful.

    Despite the cost of fuel shooting, water should not be the solution but radiator coolant should be budgeted for in all car expenses.

    Car radiator coolant is essential in so many ways from ensuring the locomotive maintains its efficiency to extending the engine's lifespan.

    Undated Photo of an Individual Pouring Water in Car Radiator System
    Undated Photo of an Individual Pouring Water in Car Radiator System

    Most car owners have fallen victim to the practice of substituting coolant with water because many do not understand how the radiator functions in an engine and the reason the coolant is required in the first place.

    Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, a car expert described a coolant as a chemical required to cool the engine.

    "A coolant is a chemical fluid that is required for your car's cooling system or radiator to work. The cooling system in your car consists of a radiator, which usually has a pressurised cap, an overflow bottle, a thermostat, and a cooling fan," he told Kenyans.co.ke.

    He added that the main purpose of the cooling system in a car is to circulate coolant through the engine which cools it and surrounding parts. 

    "But one thing that is always confusing is the difference between a radiator fluid and a coolant. They are basically the same thing only that the terms are used interchangeably. But there is yet another fluid called antifreeze which is usually mixed with the coolant," he noted adding that antifreeze is not a must in this case.

    The expert cautioned that adding boiled water in the coolant system will cause you a whole host of problems as it performs the reverse role.

    In a case where one finds themselves without a choice and is forced to use plain water in the cooling system, then distilled water is preferred as it has lower mineral content than normal tap water and has less chance of causing build-up in the engine and even corroding the system.

    He argued that the minerals contained in the water form scales that attach themselves to metal surfaces that turns water brown in the cooling system.

    Effects of Using Water

    Water is detrimental to the health of the car. According to a majority of research studies conducted on the subject, water has a corrosive effect that damages the water pumps, the piping system, and the engine system.

    It lowers the lifespan of the engine. On top of that, it causes overheating forcing an individual to drive with cans to cool the engine more often.

    The vehicle efficiency is adversely affected and that is why some people say that a certain car cannot travel some specific long distance.

    Using a Coolant

    When the heat created by an internal combustion engine builds up, it can cause numerous problems that are expensive to repair. Not only can the head gasket blow, but the cylinder head can warp and severe engine damage follows.

    By using water in the motor, the liquid evaporates and boils away, leaving the vehicle without fluid.

    Another car enthusiast who spoke to Kenyans.co.ke stated that where one is forced to use water without any alternative, he should do flushing. This is where the fuel is removed from the radiator system using a special chemical then refilled with the prescribed coolant.

    While using the coolant, it is advisable that it should be replaced after hitting 100,000 kilometres.

    Also mixing coolants is not advisable. One is recommended to use only one prescribed type by the car manufacturer. Each automaker has a different configuration to the cooling system, requiring a particular coolant for complete protection.

    How to Use a Coolant

    Before you get started, you want to check the coolant levels. Don’t open the radiator cap while the engine is hot because pressure has built up inside and can be explosive once the cap is removed.

    Once the engine has cooled down, open the coolant reservoir cap then check the levels. 

    If coolant is needed, mix with the antifreeze then add up to the marked level.

    Put the cap back on and start the engine. You should also inspect the radiator and hoses for leaks at this time.

    Undated Photo of an Individual Pouring a Coolant in Car Radiator System
    Undated Photo of an Individual Pouring a Coolant in Car Radiator System
    Car Empire