You need to understand what engine coolant is to make sense of the aspects that make inverter coolant different. Consider the following:
Why Do You Need Engine Coolant?
Your car needs coolant because engines work by creating explosions internally. Unfortunately, that process is inefficient. According to Machinery Lubrication, only one-third of a heavy-duty diesel engine’s energy pushes the car forward. The other two-thirds become heat energy. One-third of that heat energy leaves the car via the exhaust system.
The coolant removes the remaining third. According to the Universal Technical Institute, the combustion process can generate temperatures as high as 4,500 degrees F, more than enough to melt some aluminum components.
Without engine coolant, your car will overheat, manifesting troubling symptoms such as knocking sounds, smoke from the hood, and burning odors. Don’t be surprised if the engine fails altogether.
What Does Engine Coolant Do?
The coolant is part of an engine’s cooling system, which includes the water pump, radiator, hoses, fan, and thermostat. When the temperatures exceed the recommended threshold, the thermostat opens.
As its name suggests, the water pump pushes the coolant through the system. The coolant collects the excess heat and carries it to the radiator. Once the coolant cools off, it leaves the radiator and begins its journey through the engine once again.
The hoses allow the coolant to travel through the different sections of the engine. In an ideal situation, the coolant will flow continuously, allowing the engine to run without overheating. Problems arise when the coolant depletes, leaks, or becomes contaminated.
What Is Engine Coolant Composed Of?
Most coolants combine water and ethylene glycol. Water does a decent job of removing heat. However, you need the glycol to protect your engine from freezing temperatures. Glycol reduces the water’s ability to transfer heat, but the freeze protection it offers is worth the sacrifice.
The exact ingredients will vary depending on the brand. Some manufacturers include special additives such as corrosion inhibitors and dyes. North American companies usually prioritize silicates and phosphates because they form a protective layer.
European developers use phosphate-free coolants because hard water is a problem. Minerals like calcium and magnesium form calcium (or magnesium) phosphate when they encounter phosphate inhibitors, creating scales that compromise a coolant’s heat transfer abilities.
Europeans use carboxylates instead of phosphates. They protect against corrosion without creating a layer of inhibitors.
Where Does Engine Coolant Work?
Engine coolant works in every car whose engine burns fossil fuels. Without coolant, conventional vehicles will overheat. Mechanics change coolant because ethylene glycol eventually breaks down.
Even though you can go years without changing the coolant, you should test it yearly. A breakdown in ethylene glycol exposes the engine’s metallic components to corrosion.
Now that you know what engine coolant does, what makes inverter coolant different? Consider the following:
Why Do You Need Inverter Coolant?
Hybrid cars have a battery. But that battery generates DC power. According to this Toyota Scranton guide, their hybrid cars have inverters that change DC power into AC power which the vehicle can use.
In other words, you can’t drive a car without an inverter. Unfortunately, the inverter’s work generates heat. Hybrid vehicles have a cooling system that prevents the inverter from overheating. That cooling system uses inverter coolant to take the heat away.
What Does Inverter Coolant Do?
Hybrid vehicles have an electric pump that circulates the inverter coolant using a liquid cooling loop. The coolant takes the excess heat and carries it to the radiator. Once it cools, the coolant runs through the system once more.
Where Does Inverter Coolant Work?
Inverter coolant works in hybrid vehicles. Traditional cars don’t have inverters. Therefore, they don’t need inverter coolant. The inverter in a hybrid vehicle generates heat while converting DC into AC power.
Inverters will overheat unless coolant takes the excess heat away while circulating. Car Tips Daily expects a Prius to show a P0893 error code when the inverter fails. Don’t be surprised if the car stalls.
Give the vehicle a moment to cool down. If the car starts and the error code disappears, you should check on the coolant. It may take a mechanic’s assistance to get to the bottom of this issue. After all, inverter coolant can fail to circulate because the pump has stopped working.
In other words, the coolant is not at fault. Additionally, a mechanic can inspect the inverter pump sensors. These sensors compel the pump to circulate the coolant once they detect the heat in the inverter. As such, if they fail, the coolant won’t circulate. None of these issues matter to traditional fossil fuel-based vehicles.
What Is The Inverter Composed Of?
It depends on the maker. Expect some water, anti-freeze, and ethylene glycol. The Prius manual on this Prius Chat discussion mentions that their coolant is non-silicate/amine/nitrite/borate. Try to match brands.
For instance, if you have a Prius, get the coolant Toyota made for that specific model. Check the manual. You can also contact the company’s personnel to get a recommendation. You can’t trust coolant from a different brand to benefit your vehicle.
It is worth noting that Hybrid vehicles use one type of coolant. You don’t need inverter coolant and engine coolant for your hybrid car. The same bottle of inverter coolant will meet your car’s cooling needs.
This subject confuses people, especially when they consult ignorant dealerships and mechanics. Try to keep the following in mind:
1). Before you buy coolant, identify the type you need. It isn’t enough to know the difference between inverter and engine coolant. Engine coolant comes in three different forms:
- Inorganic Additive Technology – Most people have seen this coolant. The product has been around for decades. It has a distinct green color. But IAT coolant has fallen out of favor in some circles because it depletes its additives quickly. You need to change it every two years (24,000 miles).
- Organic Acid Technology – You find OAT coolant in vehicles from General Motors. First of all, it can go unchanged for five years (50,000). Secondly, it comes in orange, yellow, red, and purple.
- Hybrid Organic Acid Technology – Despite the ‘Hybrid’ in its name, HOAT is not an inverter coolant. Instead, it combines OAT and IAT. The result is a coolant you only need to change every ten years (150,000 miles).
Before you buy coolant, make sure you know the type of coolant you need. This is why the manual is so important. Don’t expect multiple manufacturers to use the same type of coolant.
2). How much water should you add to the coolant? If you’ve been driving for decades, you probably have a habit of diluting your coolant. But this step isn’t always necessary. In previous years, manufacturers sold pure coolant. You had to dilute it.
But these days, many coolant brands are pre-diluted. Read the instructions on the bottle. You should only dilute the coolant if the instructions say so.
3). Pay attention to the color. The color is tricky because you can’t trust it to identify the coolant type accurately. A skilled mechanic will tell you to look for orange, yellow, red, and purple if you want OAT coolants. However, you can also find HOAT coolants in orange and yellow.
IAT is typically green. But manufacturers can make it whatever color they want. Consider Honda, which has a blue coolant. Is that coolant OAT, HOAT, or IAT?
Don’t use the coolant’s color to make decisions. Read the label. If the label is unclear, turn to the manual to identify the correct coolant for your car. Using the wrong coolant is just as dangerous as having no coolant because it compromises the engine’s coolant system.