Mechanic pouring coolant

Engine Coolant vs. Water: What’s Best for Your Engine’s Temperature? 

What Should I Use to Cool My Engine’s Temperature?

Maintaining the optimal operating temperature of your vehicle’s engine is crucial for its longevity and performance. One of the critical decisions you’ll face is whether to use traditional engine coolant or plain water. In this blog by Stop 23 Auto Sales in Listowel, ON, we’ll delve into the differences between these two options to help you make an informed choice of what you should use to cool your engine’s temperature.

Understanding the Fundamentals:  

Both engine coolant and water share a common goal – regulating your engine’s temperature. They prevent overheating during operation and protect against freezing in colder conditions. However, they have distinct characteristics and roles to play.  

Engine Coolant:  

Engine coolant, or antifreeze, is a specialized mixture of water and chemicals. These chemicals provide essential benefits for your engine:  

  • Freeze Prevention: Engine coolant has a lower freezing point than water, keeping it liquid in frigid temperatures.  
  • Boil-Over Protection: It raises the boiling point of the liquid, reducing the risk of overheating in hot weather.  
  • Corrosion Resistance: Coolant contains additives that deter rust and corrosion, extending the life of engine components.  
  • Lubrication: It also offers lubrication to the water pump, ensuring its smooth operation.  
  • pH Balance: Engine coolant maintains a balanced pH level, preventing the buildup of acidic deposits in your engine.  

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Man with his heated engine


Water is a straightforward and cost-effective alternative to engine coolant. While it’s readily available and budget-friendly, it has some downsides:  

  • Freezing Hazard: In cold climates, water can freeze, potentially causing severe engine damage.  
  • Boiling Risk: Water has a lower boiling point than engine coolant, making it less effective at preventing engine overheating.  
  • Corrosion Vulnerability: Unlike coolant, water lacks corrosion inhibitors, leaving your engine susceptible to rust and corrosion.  

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Making the Right Choice:  

Choosing between engine coolant and water depends on several factors:  

  • Climate: Engine coolant is safer for extreme climates, while water may suffice in milder regions.  
  • Vehicle Type: High-performance or older vehicles often benefit more from engine coolant due to higher operating temperatures.  
  • Maintenance: Water requires more frequent replacement and monitoring compared to engine coolant.  
  • Manufacturer’s Recommendations: Consult your vehicle’s manual for the recommended coolant type.