Top 8 Best Antifreeze
By | Last updated: July 22, 2020
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

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 / Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

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


  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Who leaves any of these in for 150k miles?

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      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
        Carrera

        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
        jkross22

        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
        W.Minter

        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
    twotone

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Not sure why anyone would buy their antifreeze from Amazon.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      If you are the type of person who enjoys buying prediluted coolant, you should check out the wide range of new vehicles currently available at your local dealer – they will love you there.

      Question for someone who knows: Some say use distilled water, some say you need *some* ions in it. What’s the right answer?

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

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

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Best coolant is the one your manufacturer tells you to use

  • avatar
    Yankee

    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
    TR4

    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.

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