Transportation Science

Why do cars need antifreeze?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. The main job of a car's cooling system is to keep the temperature of the engine fairly constant, at about 200 degrees F (93 degrees C). This allows the fuel to be completely vaporized, which means it burns better, with fewer emissions. The oil in the engine is relatively thin at that temperature and does its job of lubrication more effectively, which in turn allows the engine to operate more efficiently. The metal parts of the engine last longer when properly cooled. Water does a fine job of cooling an engine all by itself, but it freezes at too high a temperature to be of help in extremely cold temperatures. Antifreeze considerably lowers the freezing point of the coolant and also contains anti-rust additives. Most antifreeze consists of a mixture of ethylene glycol and water and, depending on the proportions of each, can lower the freezing point of the coolant to well below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C).

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