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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 18 Mar 2012, 01:09 am
cameo
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Default Mixing different brands of coolant

I just stumbled onto a warning in my Honda service manual that says:

CAUTION:
Do not mix different brands of antifreeze/coolant.

I have a feeling that this warning is not observed by most independent
shops and Honda owners over the life of a car. So I wonder what kind of
consequences might one expect from mixing different brands. Don't they
all use essentially the same ethylene glycol?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 18 Mar 2012, 08:38 am
Tegger
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Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

cameo <cameo@unreal.invalid> wrote in news:jk3u4t$4hu$1@dont-email.me:

> I just stumbled onto a warning in my Honda service manual that says:
>
> CAUTION:
> Do not mix different brands of antifreeze/coolant.
>
> I have a feeling that this warning is not observed by most independent
> shops and Honda owners over the life of a car. So I wonder what kind of
> consequences might one expect from mixing different brands. Don't they
> all use essentially the same ethylene glycol?
>




Yes, but the rest of it is different from brand to brand, not all of which
are compatible with each other.

And since you have no idea of the compatibility of one brand to another,
it's unwise to chance mixing two that don't like each other.

And even if they are compatible, mixing them deletes the long-life
corrosion protection, dumbing protection down to the default 2-years.

--
Tegger
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 18 Mar 2012, 08:41 am
Tegger
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Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

Tegger <invalid@example.com> wrote in
news:XnsA01A622828D3Dtegger@208.90.168.18:

> cameo <cameo@unreal.invalid> wrote in news:jk3u4t$4hu$1@dont-email.me:
>
>> I just stumbled onto a warning in my Honda service manual that says:
>>
>> CAUTION:
>> Do not mix different brands of antifreeze/coolant.
>>
>> I have a feeling that this warning is not observed by most
>> independent shops and Honda owners over the life of a car. So I
>> wonder what kind of consequences might one expect from mixing
>> different brands. Don't they all use essentially the same ethylene
>> glycol?
>>

>
>
>
> Yes, but the rest of it is different from brand to brand, not all of
> which are compatible with each other.
>
> And since you have no idea of the compatibility of one brand to
> another, it's unwise to chance mixing two that don't like each other.
>
> And even if they are compatible, mixing them deletes the long-life
> corrosion protection, dumbing protection down to the default 2-years.
>




Further: Coolant is not like brake fluid or motor oil, where all of them
within a given grade are compatible with each other.


--
Tegger
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 18 Mar 2012, 10:38 am
jim beam
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Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

On 03/18/2012 06:41 AM, Tegger wrote:
> Tegger<invalid@example.com> wrote in
> news:XnsA01A622828D3Dtegger@208.90.168.18:
>
>> cameo<cameo@unreal.invalid> wrote in news:jk3u4t$4hu$1@dont-email.me:
>>
>>> I just stumbled onto a warning in my Honda service manual that says:
>>>
>>> CAUTION:
>>> Do not mix different brands of antifreeze/coolant.
>>>
>>> I have a feeling that this warning is not observed by most
>>> independent shops and Honda owners over the life of a car. So I
>>> wonder what kind of consequences might one expect from mixing
>>> different brands. Don't they all use essentially the same ethylene
>>> glycol?
>>>

>>
>>
>>
>> Yes, but the rest of it is different from brand to brand, not all of
>> which are compatible with each other.
>>
>> And since you have no idea of the compatibility of one brand to
>> another, it's unwise to chance mixing two that don't like each other.
>>
>> And even if they are compatible, mixing them deletes the long-life
>> corrosion protection, dumbing protection down to the default 2-years.
>>

>
>
>
> Further: Coolant is not like brake fluid or motor oil, where all of them
> within a given grade are compatible with each other.


oh, puh-leeze.

<http://www.eetcorp.com/antifreeze/antifreeze-faq.htm>


--
nomina rutrum rutrum
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 18 Mar 2012, 12:45 pm
cameo
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

On 3/18/2012 6:41 AM, Tegger wrote:
>
> Further: Coolant is not like brake fluid or motor oil, where all of them
> within a given grade are compatible with each other.


OK, but in most cases when I want to top off the coolant to replenish
the loss over time, I have no idea what coolant the shop was using when
they filled the system last time. So mixing different brands here is
likely. Heck, last time, as I found out, my well regarded independent
mechanic specializing in Japanese cars, used tap water to mix the
concentrated coolant. When I asked him about that, he dismissed my
concern by saying that the tapwater here was pretty soft and he never
heard that using tapwater for mixing could be a problem. (Funny, even
I've known about that!) But then, maybe that tapwater is the reason why
I've just noticed the early signs of coolant vapor condensing inside my
windshield after only a few years of heater core replacement. Shoot,
that will be another expensive repair job. Perhaps it is time to look
for another shop for that job or going back to the Honda dealer again.
I better get some bids on that job first because it might cost me more
than what I could fetch for the whole '94 Accord.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 18 Mar 2012, 01:10 pm
jim beam
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Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

On 03/18/2012 10:45 AM, cameo wrote:
> On 3/18/2012 6:41 AM, Tegger wrote:
>>
>> Further: Coolant is not like brake fluid or motor oil, where all of them
>> within a given grade are compatible with each other.

>
> OK, but in most cases when I want to top off the coolant to replenish
> the loss over time, I have no idea what coolant the shop was using when
> they filled the system last time. So mixing different brands here is
> likely.


indeed.


> Heck, last time, as I found out, my well regarded independent
> mechanic specializing in Japanese cars, used tap water to mix the
> concentrated coolant.


as do most shops. apart from anything else, it's cheapest. for the
shop anyway, not the customer.


> When I asked him about that, he dismissed my
> concern by saying that the tapwater here was pretty soft and he never
> heard that using tapwater for mixing could be a problem.


like most shops have never "heard" of bad head gasket repair practices
being the inevitable death of that engine. it's not because the
problems don't accrue to their bad practice, it's because /that/
particular shop costs the customer money so the customer takes their
business elsewhere - them become someone else's problem.


> (Funny, even
> I've known about that!) But then, maybe that tapwater is the reason why
> I've just noticed the early signs of coolant vapor condensing inside my
> windshield after only a few years of heater core replacement. Shoot,
> that will be another expensive repair job. Perhaps it is time to look
> for another shop


q.e.d.


> for that job or going back to the Honda dealer again.


unfortunately, you can't rely on a dealer to not use tap water. most of
them take the view, and you have to be sympathetic to this, that the
customer is going to use it, so it's not going to make any difference,
it's only the super-anal independent and large fleets that use the same
equipment for many years, that bother.


> I better get some bids on that job first because it might cost me more
> than what I could fetch for the whole '94 Accord.


i never understood the logic of this thinking. buying a new car costs
money down, money lost through depreciation, more expensive insurance,
and [for most people] monthly payments - that all amounts to many
thousands of dollars a year. how can that possibly be "cheaper" than
repairing what is now essentially a "free" car? sure, go ahead and
replace a car one doesn't like, or that one feels has has social
implications, but replacing it because its current value is supposed to
be weighed against repair cost when the replacement ends up being even
more expensive??? i don't get it.


--
nomina rutrum rutrum

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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 18 Mar 2012, 09:43 pm
cameo
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

On 3/18/2012 11:10 AM, jim beam wrote:

> unfortunately, you can't rely on a dealer to not use tap water. most of
> them take the view, and you have to be sympathetic to this, that the
> customer is going to use it, so it's not going to make any difference,
> it's only the super-anal independent and large fleets that use the same
> equipment for many years, that bother.


So what is one to do then if he is not a super-anal independent?

>> I better get some bids on that job first because it might cost me more
>> than what I could fetch for the whole '94 Accord.

>
> i never understood the logic of this thinking. buying a new car costs
> money down, money lost through depreciation, more expensive insurance,
> and [for most people] monthly payments - that all amounts to many
> thousands of dollars a year. how can that possibly be "cheaper" than
> repairing what is now essentially a "free" car? sure, go ahead and
> replace a car one doesn't like, or that one feels has has social
> implications, but replacing it because its current value is supposed to
> be weighed against repair cost when the replacement ends up being even
> more expensive??? i don't get it.


I understand you here and up to now this was pretty much my own thinking
as well. That's why I kept the car this long. Even though the engine and
transmission, along with other major components still function almost as
well as in the firts year but the increasing frequency of repair jobs of
auxiliary componenents is starting to nickle-and-dime me to death.
Because of them, I would not even risk a longer trip with the car. But
eventually I just might bite the bullet and pay for a heater core
replacement again. In the end though I'll still have an old car on which
something else might go wrong again when I least expect it. It would not
be too much of a problem on a local trip but could ruin my whole day on
a longer one, especially at night somewhere.

There is a school of thought that once the maintenance bills add up to a
certain value of a car, it's better to get a new one than repair the old
one. Isn't that the basis of how the insurance companies decide when to
total a car and when to pay for the repairs?



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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 18 Mar 2012, 10:45 pm
jim beam
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

On 03/18/2012 07:43 PM, cameo wrote:
> On 3/18/2012 11:10 AM, jim beam wrote:
>
>> unfortunately, you can't rely on a dealer to not use tap water. most of
>> them take the view, and you have to be sympathetic to this, that the
>> customer is going to use it, so it's not going to make any difference,
>> it's only the super-anal independent and large fleets that use the same
>> equipment for many years, that bother.

>
> So what is one to do then if he is not a super-anal independent?


i just assume it's diluted with tap water and just drain the system and
refill with what i /know/ to be properly constituted. but that's /me/
being anal, and also inclined to get under the hood anyway. there's no
reason you can't show up at an independent with a couple of containers
of antifreeze you did yourself and ask them to drain/refill for you.


>
>>> I better get some bids on that job first because it might cost me more
>>> than what I could fetch for the whole '94 Accord.

>>
>> i never understood the logic of this thinking. buying a new car costs
>> money down, money lost through depreciation, more expensive insurance,
>> and [for most people] monthly payments - that all amounts to many
>> thousands of dollars a year. how can that possibly be "cheaper" than
>> repairing what is now essentially a "free" car? sure, go ahead and
>> replace a car one doesn't like, or that one feels has has social
>> implications, but replacing it because its current value is supposed to
>> be weighed against repair cost when the replacement ends up being even
>> more expensive??? i don't get it.

>
> I understand you here and up to now this was pretty much my own thinking
> as well. That's why I kept the car this long. Even though the engine and
> transmission, along with other major components still function almost as
> well as in the firts year but the increasing frequency of repair jobs of
> auxiliary componenents is starting to nickle-and-dime me to death.
> Because of them, I would not even risk a longer trip with the car. But
> eventually I just might bite the bullet and pay for a heater core
> replacement again.


that has to be one of the most severely p.i.t.a. jobs possible on a
honda. literally everything around it has to come out. i sympathize.
and i'd look into other leak remedies first.


> In the end though I'll still have an old car on which
> something else might go wrong again when I least expect it. It would not
> be too much of a problem on a local trip but could ruin my whole day on
> a longer one, especially at night somewhere.


if you've followed a program of preventive maintenance, that "if" gets
pretty much eliminated. i've spent quite a bit on my 89 civic in the
last few years. driveshafts, alternator, starter, battery, brakes &
disks, radiator, hoses, exhaust, catalytic converter, oxygen sensor,
suspension bushings, etc. not necessarily because the old stuff
wouldn't have lasted longer, but because i wanted to*. and each should
be good for another 10-20 years. and all of this expense together is
considerably less than what my previous new car cost me in depreciation
over the same time frame.


>
> There is a school of thought that once the maintenance bills add up to a
> certain value of a car, it's better to get a new one than repair the old
> one. Isn't that the basis of how the insurance companies decide when to
> total a car and when to pay for the repairs?


where does that "school of thought" come from? i put it to you that
it's the same people that never do the math on the /real/ cost of ownership!

* and this is where "wanting to" comes in. i figured that if i compared
real costs of ownership, i could /afford/ to plow quite a lot of money
back into the 89 and still be ahead. so i did. and can afford to keep
on doing so.


--
nomina rutrum rutrum
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 19 Mar 2012, 06:56 am
Tegger
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Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

cameo <cameo@unreal.invalid> wrote in news:jk56t5$4bi$1@dont-email.me:

> On 3/18/2012 6:41 AM, Tegger wrote:
>>
>> Further: Coolant is not like brake fluid or motor oil, where all of them
>> within a given grade are compatible with each other.

>
> OK, but in most cases when I want to top off the coolant to replenish
> the loss over time, I have no idea what coolant the shop was using when
> they filled the system last time. So mixing different brands here is
> likely.



Possible. And not a great practice.

What's also possible is that the shop went by color and topped up with the
same color that was already in there. That's what my guy does.



> Heck, last time, as I found out, my well regarded independent
> mechanic specializing in Japanese cars, used tap water to mix the
> concentrated coolant. When I asked him about that, he dismissed my
> concern by saying that the tapwater here was pretty soft and he never
> heard that using tapwater for mixing could be a problem.



Then he's not using Honda coolant, which is a premix...


> (Funny, even
> I've known about that!) But then, maybe that tapwater is the reason why
> I've just noticed the early signs of coolant vapor condensing inside my
> windshield after only a few years of heater core replacement.



If /correct/ coolant is used, and is changed at the /correct/ intervals,
the heater core will outlast the vehicle.



--
Tegger
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 19 Mar 2012, 12:35 pm
cameo
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Default Re: Mixing different brands of coolant

On 3/19/2012 4:56 AM, Tegger wrote:
>> OK, but in most cases when I want to top off the coolant to replenish
>> the loss over time, I have no idea what coolant the shop was using when
>> they filled the system last time. So mixing different brands here is
>> likely.

>
> Possible. And not a great practice.


I think you just don't know when mechanics will use short-cuts instead
of good practices.

> What's also possible is that the shop went by color and topped up with the
> same color that was already in there. That's what my guy does.


Except -- according that antifreeze FAQ:
"In the past, most antifreezes were green. Now, manufacturers use a
variety of colors in their antifreeze product lines. Green generally,
but not necessarily, indicates an automotive or light duty formulation.
Orange antifreeze generally means extended-life type of antifreeze. It
is ethylene glycol-based like most green antifreezes but contains
different corrosion inhibitors.
The various manufacturers use colors to identify their products in a bit
of marketing gamesmanship; however, there are no hard rules governing
the use of these colors. "

So much for relying on colors.

>> Heck, last time, as I found out, my well regarded independent
>> mechanic specializing in Japanese cars, used tap water to mix the
>> concentrated coolant. When I asked him about that, he dismissed my
>> concern by saying that the tapwater here was pretty soft and he never
>> heard that using tapwater for mixing could be a problem.

>
> Then he's not using Honda coolant, which is a premix...


Indeed he is not. He also does not use the Castrol oil that my Honda
dealer uses. That's why I also bought the oil before I took the car for
oil change. I wish I had done the same thing with coolant.
>
> If /correct/ coolant is used, and is changed at the /correct/ intervals,
> the heater core will outlast the vehicle.


Unfortunately this lesson comes a bit too late for me. :-(

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