Top 8 Best Antifreeze
By | Last updated: January 24, 2022
best antifreeze

Maintaining your out-of-warranty ride often forces us to learn the different systems in our vehicles. After wrenching on them for interminable amounts of time, knowing the ins and outs of the braking system or suspension bits is kind of inevitable.

Another area with which you’ll likely become familiar? Cooling/antifreeze systems. These closed systems help to keep things from freezing up in the rust belt and from boiling over in places like Arizona.

At least they’re supposed to be closed systems. Leaks in rubber hoses or metal components can lead to this liquid vanishing out of your car faster than a government worker at the end of shift. There will also be occasions when flushing the system might be a good idea in terms of preventative maintenance.

1. Editor's Choice: PEAK Long Life 50/50 Antifreeze

A full 100 percent of the roughly fifty real-world customers who bothered to leave feedback on this product gave it 4 or 5 stars, boosting its standing to 4.9 stars out of 5. The product is premixed, meaning you can sling a jug of it in the trunk of your hooptie and not have to worry about finding a river from which to fetch water in a hastily obtained hubcap.

This is glycol-type coolant, free of silicate and borate, making it suitable for vehicles that originally ran that type of fluid. Most customers commented that the price from this seller is roughly the same as that found in big-box retailers but, of course, Amazon ships right to your door.

Pros/Pre-mixed, top-notch reviews
Cons/Weird ad copy error that mentions DEF
Bottom Line/Convenient to have on hand for top ups

2. General Motors ACDelco DEX-Cool

We’re going to profile a trio of OEM-branded coolants in this post, namely ones which are associated with the Detroit Three. Here we find Dex-Cool, a name which caused more than one mechanic to weep back in the ’90s. Dex-Cool, if you’ve forgotten, is the stuff which has a distinctive orange color.

Most problems that stemmed from this product could be chalked up to numpty owners who added traditional green coolant as a top up in vehicles running Dex-Cool. This would likely cause all kinds of problems, from premature metal fatigue to turning the car’s cooling system into a muddy mess.

Pros/Gen-u-wine GM branding, Dex-Cool specific formula
Cons/Some reports of shipping problems
Bottom Line/Look no farther for your GM vehicle

3. Ford Gold Concentrated Antifreeze/Coolant

This is a yellow-colored ethylene glycol-based antifreeze/coolant for use in gasoline and diesel engines. Ford lends its brand to it, along with the Motorcraft name. Note that there are some Fords with different coolant specifications so check your specific Blue Oval application to confirm this is the product you need.

It ships in a gallon jug, like just about everything else on this list, and is a concentrated fluid. As such, it has to be properly diluted with water before use (Ford recommends distilled water, not ditch water scooped up with a hubcap). A 50/50 mix does the trick.

Pros/Made specifically for your thirsty Ford
Cons/Not premixed
Bottom Line/Blue Oval juice in a red plastic bottle

4. Mopar Coolant 50/50 Premixed

Finally, Mopar. This is a premixed product, meaning you can top off the cooling system in your Dodge by simply pouring straight from this bottle. Like others, it is promoted as being a 10-year / 150,000-mile coolant that shouldn’t need to be changed before that time.

It’s rated for temperatures ranging from near -40F to 265F, the latter of which is nearly the daily high in scenic Furnace Creek. Out of nearly 500 customers, well over 90% gave it a 4 or 5-star rating, helping it reach an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Pros/Premixed to a 50/50 solution
Cons/Some labelling confusion
Bottom Line/Premium pink Pentastar product

5. Zerex Original Green Antifreeze

This is the first of two Zerex products on our list, selected because they are promoted as being designed for different types of vehicles. This green-tinted coolant is what most people would call the ‘old fashioned stuff’ and is recommended for pre-’96 GMs, pre-’02 Fords, and pre-01 Chrysler products.

Its gallon-sized container is pretty standard, though we do wish someone would apply one of those innovative clean-pour spouts to these things. Essentially a straight formula of ethylene glycol, there’s every chance this stuff will outlast the jug in which it’s contained.

Pros/Great for older cars
Cons/Don't bring it near anything built this millennium
Bottom Line/You've seen this in garages for years

6. Zerex Asian Vehicle 50/50 Prediluted Antifreeze/Coolant

Here’s our second example of Zerex products, this time formulated for vehicles from the Toyota family. It is pre-diluted to a 50/50 mix, so don’t add any water to this stuff or it will lose most of its effectiveness. If you’re interested, the colors on the labels of Zerex bottles generally mirror the shade of the liquid inside.

The long-life Zerex formula provides protection for all cooling system metals from rust and corrosion. The silicate free, borate free formula helps protect against scale and deposits. A sticker on the reverse side of the jug indicates it is safe for use on other Japanese and Korean branded cars.

Pros/Formulated for yer Toyota
Cons/Do research before putting it in another brand
Bottom Line/Zerex makes many different products for a reason

7. Prestone AF-1420 Antifreeze/Coolant Tester

If you enjoy wrenching on your own ride, this antifreeze/coolant tester is a good tool to have on hand. It easily tests the fluid in your car’s cooling system for anti-freeze/anti-boil properties, permitting you to determine its fitness before flushing it all out of the car.

This tester provides a quick and easy method to safely collect a sample and measure coolant concentration. It also allows a visual inspection of the antifreeze while you test it. As a rule, it does not matter what type of coolant one is testing, this thing should work just fine. However, watch for cross-contamination if testing multiple cars.

Pros/Easy to use, cheap insurance
Cons/Complaints of a short sample hose
Bottom Line/Get one for the toolbox

8. Royal Purple Purple Ice Super Coolant

This is a 2-in-1 corrosion inhibitor and wetting agent that is said to provide enhanced protection of aluminum. According to the seller, it reduces the surface tension of the coolant, allowing heat to transfer outside the radiator for more horsepower.

More practically, this product from Royal Purple reduces hot spots in the engine and cylinder heads to help prevent failure of critical engine components. Maintaining a cleaner system, this additive should prevent overheating and extend the life of the water pump.

Pros/May add powerrrrrr, cheaper than fixing the thermostat
Cons/You should still fix the thermostat
Bottom Line/Purple temperature eater

What brand of antifreeze is best?

According to the reviews on Amazon that suggest around 4.7-star rating:

  • EVANS Cooling Systems EC53001 (Buy here!) is considered one of the best products and brands in the category. The solution is waterless and therefore doesn’t require any kind of mixing during its application. The coolant is best suited for diesel, CNG, and LP-operated classic, modern, and even vintage vehicles.

If you are looking for an antifreeze that has been specifically designed for diesel cars, you can go for:

  • Zerex G05 Phosphate Free Concentrate. Zerex is a concentrated solution that needs to be mixed with water before application. Although the coolant is best for the diesel variants, it can also be used in gasoline-powered cars for improved performance.

When talking about the pre-mixed options, you can consider:

  • ShellZone Pre-Diluted 50/50. This is a ready-to-use solution that is diluted with the appropriate quantity of water to offer you the best and long-lasting performance.

Does it matter what antifreeze you use?

Yes, it does. Although several types of antifreeze solutions are available in the market, picking the right one for your car could be a bit tricky. Usually, the cars that are manufactured after 1998 use Organic Acid Technology or OAT-based silicate-free coolants, whereas those manufactured before the above-mentioned year require that the antifreeze contains silicate and is a non-OAT-based solution.

Considering this, the best way to find out which antifreeze would suit your car the best is by checking the vehicle’s owner’s manual. In case no such document is available, a quick online search about the make and model of your car would give you a sufficient amount of information so you can pick the right solution.

What is the longest-lasting coolant?

An antifreeze solution that could be suitable for a majority of vehicle types and that also enjoys a decent number of positive customer reviews with more than 4.5-star rating is:

  • Valvoline Multi-Vehicle Concentrate (Buy here!)

The antifreeze/coolant is concentrated and must be manually mixed with water before its application. The solution can last for up to 150,000 miles or five years, thus making it one of the economical fluids that you can get for your car.

Another solution that is considered the best for the cars with diesel engines is:

  • Shell Rotella ELC Nitrite Free Concentrate (Buy here!)

This one is also a concentrated coolant that must be mixed with water before application. The solution can last for up to 6 years or whopping 600,000 miles. When used in passenger cars or trucks, Shell Rotella ELC can last for around 150,000 miles.

What type of antifreeze should I use?

As explained earlier, before buying an antifreeze, it would be best to check your car’s owner’s manual. In case you don’t have access to such documentation, you can consult a professional from the service center, talk to the manufacturer’s technical support team, or conduct a quick online search to see which solution would be the best.

The bottom line is, you cannot use any random antifreeze in your car as it may damage the machine in the long run. Therefore, it is strongly advised to do thorough research before picking a solution that can give you a safe and hassle-free drive for another couple of years.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: Pawel Radomski / Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

14 Comments on “Best Antifreeze: That’s Cool...”

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Who leaves any of these in for 150k miles?

    • 0 avatar

      Certainly not us BMW owners (yes, I’m one) who replace cooling parts on a regular basis. My 1998 328i needed one radiator, two over flow tanks, a couple of thermostats, hoses, etc. in its 15 years and 180,000 miles.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, older model BMWs are known for their very delicate cooling systems. Most other vehicles, unless used in a heavy duty environment can easily achieve 150,000 miles out of OEM coolant. My wife’s Pilot is at 226,000 miles and I’ve changed the coolant twice and hoses once. Original water pump. Don’t want a remanufactured in China pump when I do my timing belt. I’ve always refused it and so far my strategy worked. Always use Honda OEM coolant. It is too cheap and I change it too infrequent to worry about the 6 dollars price difference vs non OEM.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m so tempting fate by typing this, but I’m on my original water pump/thermostat on my 13 year old, 120k mile 328i. I’m stunned.

        Having said that, I’ve had to replace the oil filter housing gasket, the valve cover and gasket and oil pan gasket.

        Given a choice, it would’ve been much less costly to just have the freaking water pump die.

      • 0 avatar

        Ha, not so much has changed. BMW Mini driver here. Plastic thermostat grenaded at 44k miles, left me stranded. Built the Mediocre Way(tm).

  • avatar

    According to Amazon, DEX is $21 full concentration. Peak is $31 for 50/50 mix. That’s pretty expensive water. Not sure why anyone would buy premixed unless they had more money than time.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    Just FYI. AC/Delco, Mopar and Motorcraft are all Prestone-manufactured.

  • avatar

    Best coolant is the one your manufacturer tells you to use

  • avatar

    Yet another useless product ranking by the folks at TTAC. Seriously, why do you guys insist on doing these kinds of things? You can’t “rank” coolant given all the varieties needed for today’s (and yesterday’s) cars. I have a whole shelf in my garage full of different kinds of coolants for all the vehicles I service. While so-called “all makes, all models” coolants exist, if you mix them with the factory stuff you’re going to get a funky color, followed by a recommendation by a shop to have your cooling system flushed because it looks like pea soup. Find out what kind of coolant your car takes, then buy it. It’s that simple. I didn’t think I’d see a dumber ranking than the one you guys did on ceramic paint sealants in which you ranked them based on what the ad copy says, but I’ve been proven wrong, because here it is. I can only assume that a “ranking” of engine oil is next, disregarding the viscosity and prioritizing who writes the best advertising prose.

  • avatar

    Tip: Buy 1 gallon of (overpriced) 50/50 pre-mix and one gallon of concentrate. Use the mix first. When it runs out, pour 1/2 the concentrate into the empty pre-mix container, add water and label both bottles 50/50 with a grease pencil. Now you will never have to buy pre-mix again.

    Once upon a time, I used to add concentrate sometimes and water other times figuring it would average out. Until one cold Michigan morning in January when my ’73 Opel overheated because the coolant was a slushy half-frozen mess. Now I always add 50/50 and have not had a problem since.

  • avatar

    Well, as much as I like my Pentastar, I will readily admit the oil cooler design is a piece of crap. The original (?) lasted a mere 90,000km, and the replacement I put in last year is already leaking. I have ordered an all-metal Dorman unit to replace it and hopefully banish this particular demon (see what I did there) for good. Until it arrives, and until it warms up enough to do the job, I want to nurse it along, since it is more of a weepy leak than a gusher. Unfortunately, it seems the OAT purple coolant used in this engine does not play well with some other coolants, including earlier orange HOAT coolants used in the same engine. I see some coolants purporting to be useable in all models regardless of coolant, but the consequences of a screw-up can be dire, with the coolant basically turning into a jelly inside the motor. This would not be an issue if the Chrysler dealer wasn’t asking $50/jug for the OEM stuff. Has anyone found a coolant that mixes happily with the Chrysler purple?

    As an aside, does it not occur to car companies that keeping an obviously defective part in production for 20 years does nothing for their rep? Seriously, they designed a whole car ffs, surely they could have been arsed enough to put their own aluminum oil filter/cooler in production? The failure rate on these is high enough to have spawned several aftermarket suppliers for the same bad product. Hopefully my order went through, as I have not yet received confirmation that it has been processed. Availability of the new cooler is very low. Demand must be massive.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.