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Most drivers don't think about engine coolant. It's just another fluid to check during an oil change. Engine coolant has three important functions: it lowers the freezing point of the cooling system in winter, raises the boiling point in summer, and protects the engine and cooling system from rust and corrosion throughout the year. If your truck's cooling system is not topped up or replaced with the correct coolant, it can lead to costly complications.

The most important component of coolant is to transfer heat and protect your engine from freezing or boiling over. Since heat can only be transferred normally when there is fluid in the system, it is very important to maintain proper coolant levels.

In addition, when the coolant boils, the resulting vapors ineffectively transfer heat, which means that if the coolant is not in contact with metal surfaces to dissipate heat, the engine can overheat. Some newer trucks have tight engine compartments with a reduced airflow, putting them at risk of overheating in a short time if they don't have a properly functioning cooling system.

Coolant also protects metals and non-metallic elastomers such as rubber and plastic components in the cooling circuit and engine.

What kinds of engine coolant are there?

To effectively maintain a vehicle's cooling system and protect the engine from damage, many modern autos need improved engine coolants. Today, there are three main types of engine coolants used by truck repair shops:

• Inorganic Additive Technology

This coolant's distinctive green color has been used to preserve cooling systems for decades, although it is rarely used as factory fluid in modern trucks. One reason is that the additives in it deplete quickly, requiring it to be replaced more regularly, usually every two years or 24,000 miles.

• Nitrited Organic Acid Technology

Extended Life Coolant (ELC) does not require additional additives to achieve extended service intervals. ELC antifreeze/coolants use organic acids (organic additive technology), nitrite, and/or molybdenum as part of the inhibitor package and are called Nitrited Organic Acid Technology (NOAT) antifreeze/coolants.

• Organic Acid Technology

OAT coolants are incompatible with other types of coolants and are often required for General Motors and certain other automobile manufacturers. OAT coolants are usually orange, yellow, red, or purple and must be replaced after five years or 50,000 miles.

• Hybrid organic acid technology

HOAT coolants are typically orange-yellow and are used in Chrysler and Ford vehicles. They have the benefits of IAT and OAT coolants. Although some manufacturers specify a life of up to 10 years or 150,000 miles, OAT coolants are usually replaced every five years or 50,000 miles.

• Cooling systems for hybrid and electric vehicles

The battery pack in most hybrid and electric vehicles is cooled separately. These systems use only coolants that meet automakers' specifications.

To be continued...