Being a motorcycle owner, you must know that there’s a strict difference between car oil and motorcycle oil. I thought the case would be the same with coolants.
However, it’s not so.
Though there are specific motorcycle coolants that are recommended for motorcycle owners, adding a car coolant sometimes wouldn’t be a mistake.
The car and motorcycle coolants and have a lot of overlap and hence a lot of similarities along with differences.
If the type of car coolant you intend to add to your motorcycle tank doesn’t affect the latter’s functioning, you can use it in your motorcycle coolant overflow tank.
Whether it’s correct to add a car coolant to a motorcycle coolant is a topic of much debate and doesn’t have a conclusive answer. I would, however, like to discuss more on this.
Is a Car Coolant the same as a Motorcycle Coolant?
Strictly speaking, definitely not.
Though there are countable differences between a motorcycle coolant and a car coolant, professional experts don’t recommend mixing up the two and advise bikers to buy specific motorcycle coolants anyway.
If you still intend to use a car coolant on your motorcycle, you must be paying attention to two things. Most importantly, you must check and confirm that the coolant contains Ethylene glycol antifreeze. Sometimes, motorcycle owners mix distilled water and a car coolant in equal proportions and come up with a suitable mixture.
If you too intend to do the same, I would advise you to use distilled water only, and not tap water.
The solids present in tap water might prove to be corrosive to your bike’s engine. So, the bottom line is as long as a coolant includes ethylene glycol antifreeze, people can use it both as a car coolant and a motorcycle coolant.
Besides confirming the above fact, I would also emphasise the need to make sure that the car coolant doesn’t contain any amount of silicate.
Most car coolants I came across contain silicates. Buy a silicate free solution and you can add it to your car’s engine.
Is water the best motorcycle coolant?
Though water is no doubt the best cooling solution in this entire globe, motorcycle owners are not recommended to use only water in the coolant tank, even if it’s distilled water.
Like I already mentioned, water will eventually corrode the inside of your tank or engine. That’s why manufacturers produce specific motorcycle coolants in the first place.
So, if you want to give your bike the best care and maintenance, stay away from cheap solutions.
To ensure that your bike gives the best performance for the long term, you must make sure that the products you are using are top-notch, especially when it’s about the fluids your bike needs.
How can you identify the ideal motorcycle coolant?
Nowadays, a wide variety of motorcycle coolants are available. It becomes difficult for people to choose the best for their vehicle. To help you out, I have listed a few important features you must look for while choosing the ideal motorcycle coolant. Continue to read below to know more.
#1: Make sure the coolant dissipates heat
The primary task of any coolant is to reduce the engine’s temperature. The engine gets intensely heated up, sometimes above 801°C. The right kind of coolant will keep the temperature in control.
Motorcycle engines, when hot, cause some amount of metal expansion. Intense heat can cause the metal parts to expand beyond the normal level. It might result in metal to metal contact. This is quite dangerous and if immediate steps aren’t taken, the motorcycle engine will surely fail.
In such times, the right coolant absorbs the heat produced by the engine, carrying it to the radiator, where the best gets released into the atmosphere, thus preventing a major engine failure. I would further like to clarify that experts advise people to use a coolant containing ethylene glycol specifically because it can dissipate heat effectively.
#2: Must prevent corrosion
If dissipating heat is the primary task of an ideal coolant, the second function of it is to prevent corrosion of the interior parts of the vehicle.
Cooling systems in motorcycles contain more aluminium than the ones in passenger cars. Some even use magnesium. These metals are lightweight yet strong when compared to iron, but on the other hand, they are susceptible to corrosion. Hence, choosing an anti-corrosive coolant is extremely important.
If corrosion occurs in cooling systems of bikes, it would hinder heat transfer, thus increasing the engine temperature tremendously. Even worse, it can clog coolant passages and prevent the flow of coolant, which will also result in overheating.
Hence, to provide the best quality protection, use a special motorcycle coolant or some other coolant that contains highly purified water. Also, make sure the coolant you choose contains additives that are specifically designed for magnesium, aluminium and other metals that are mostly present in motorcycle cooling systems.
#3: Long-lasting formulation
This is the third criterion one must remember. Using a long-lasting coolant solution is a good decision. Most bike enthusiasts don’t prefer looking for varieties of coolants now and then. They stick to one coolant variety that caters to all the vehicle’s needs. Not only does it make the process convenient but also reduce maintenance costs.
What is the Best Coolant for Motorcycles?
It goes without saying that the best coolant for any motorcycle would be the one recommended by manufacturers in the user manual.
Usually, people don’t have to change the motorcycle coolant frequently. That’s why, they are advised to go an extra mile, looking for the specific coolant that’s recommended. That would ensure the vehicle’s proper functioning and longevity.
I would, however, like to mention that one can find countable differences between a motorcycle coolant and an automotive coolant.
Because of that, some motorcycle enthusiasts constantly use specific car coolants for their bikes. But, experts emphasise sticking to motorcycle-specific coolants.
Things to know before adding a car coolant to your motorcycle
Oftentimes people ask whether adding a car antifreeze or coolant to a motorcycle is allowed. I would like to say that before adding the solution, one must check if it’s compatible. Coolants have become highly improved in quality from what they used to be previously.
Nowadays, we have different varieties like HOAT, OAT, GREEN.
OAT and HOAT aren’t compatible with motorcycle coolants. They would result in sludge if mixed with any other coolant or simply added to a motorcycle tank. If you mistakenly add a car coolant that isn’t compatible, you must flush the coolant system.
Also, if you aren’t a fan of DEX cool (OAT), you must know that most green coolants are dyed OAT coolants. That’s why bikers mix wrong coolants, without even knowing.
I will certainly accept that it’s difficult to find out the ideal and appropriate coolant for your motorcycle, provided the innumerable options available in today’s market.
Once I used a car coolant instead of a specific motorcycle coolant and later I could flush the tank to fill it with a suitable coolant as recommended on the user manual. Doing so didn’t have any negative impact.
No two coolant is the same. There are legit reasons why sellers list the ingredients and standards in the label of a coolant bottle and the preferred coolant on every user manual of motorcycles.
If you find there’s no similarity between the specifications mentioned in your vehicle’s user manual and that of the coolant, you mustn’t proceed to buy the coolant.
Ideally, you should not mix. Car coolant and motorcycle coolant are different. Just like how car oil and motorcycle oil are different. Or car brake fluid and bike brake fluid are different.
However, if you find that most specifications match, you can happily proceed with buying the particular coolant for your motorcycle. Usually, bikers use car coolants on dirt bikes.
In essence, people can use a car specific coolant in a motorcycle, provided the criteria and specifications match. Keep in mind that coolants containing anti-corrosives aren’t highly recommended.