Can You Use Water As A Coolant In Your Car Cooling System?

Water can be utilized in a cooling system since the cooling system is generally a mixed of antifreeze and distilled water in the ratio of 1:1. However, using water as a coolant should only be performed in unavoidable situations and not in cold weather places.

The reason you should avoid using water as a coolant in the cold climate locations is that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit; hence, in case it’s snowing, you run the risk of water to freeze in the engine and can cause bad damage.

The damages that result from the freezing water include cracks in the radiator or the heater core, warped cylinder head and a cracked block.

Understanding Why Water Is Not A Good Coolant

The car’s cooling system is an integral area of your engine and when it does not run correctly, there can be serious issues. It as well travels in the whole engine including your intake manifold. Since the coolant is an antifreeze, it means that its freezing point is lower than the regular water.

Even in the hot climates where the water does not freeze and cause serious damage, it can still cause problems. Just like the name indicates, coolant, its purpose is to keep your engine cool.

Imagine the small explosions that occur in the engine while running, these explosions generate the energy to propel your car, and as the basic physics says that energy is heat. The heat produced can build up a bit faster, to an extent where it can blow the head gasket or warp the cylinder head or other serious damages to the engine.

A coolant is the best to use instead of water since it lowers the freezing point of your cooling system and it also raises the boiling point further.

Regular water consists of minerals and they tend to build up in the motor and prevent the correct flow of the coolant. If you are required to use the water in a pinch, opt to use a distilled water as it is totally free of impurities.

More Details Of Using Water As A Coolant

Some manufacturers today use aluminum alloys and some new compounds in the gasket and engine assembly materials. The manufacturers formulate a coolant specific to their requirements.

This may not seem like a great deal since there are universal coolants that mix with everything. But they have some long-term effects. The products mix with any type or brand of coolant and they properly work; however, they can also an adverse effect.

Because of the specific composition of the materials utilized, every manufacturer has formulated the coolant which will work with their system correctly. Teams of researchers have developed a liquid that does not strip away the elements in their alloys and work best in their pressurized system.

Every great automobile manufacturer poses their brand of fluids and advice their clients to use them since they are formulated for their cars. It is very wise to follow that advice. There are solutions given if you want to change your cooling system to another type of fluid like the Water Wetter.

The Water Wetter is mostly used in racing applications. It is designed to bond properly with primarily all water solution. Also, there is waterless such as Evan’s Waterless Coolant that is the best solution as water can corrode the internal parts especially to the cars that sit more than its driven.

It is generally advisable not to run your car with only water solution or just a highly water-based solution into the car’s cooling system.

Checking Your Coolant And Cooling Fan

Most of the modern vehicles consist of a sealed cooling system; hence, they do not require any topping up unless they have sprung a leak.

Do a careful check your cooling fan and the coolant regularly so that you can spot any issues early. Checking the cooling fan as well as the coolant will only take you a few seconds and may save you a lot of cash and hassle.

1. How To Check Your Coolant

  • It is important to accurately identify your expansion tank. Take a look at the car’s handbook for the exact location of the coolant filler cap, then follow any car-specific recommendation provided. Adding some antifreeze to your screen wash, power steering reservoir or brake fluid would be a bad idea.
  • Your coolant should be between the max/min marks on the sides of your expansion tank.
  • Look for any holes as you look for wet or just white staining which are signs of possible issues to come.
  • In case your coolant requires topping up, avoid removing the filler cap unless your engine is cold, you may be scalded by an unexpected release of pressurized hot water.
  • Ensure you use the correct type of antifreeze, the various types do not mix properly.
  • The antifreeze does not only protect the engine in winter, but it also assists stop scale build-up and corrosion all the year round.
  • It is not a normal thing for the coolant level to drop. In case you notice it has dropped, take the car to your experienced mechanic to take a look.

2. How To Check Your Cooling Fan

As your vehicle is in motion, air flows via the radiator to keep the engine’s temperature normal. However, if you stop in a long jam, the engine relies on a thermostatically controlled electric cooling fan that forces the air via the radiator.

It is advisable you check often that your temperature sensor and fan are working properly. Here is how:

  • Set your vehicle’s heater to cold
  • Run the vehicle until your engine reaches to normal temperature
  • Get your engine to idle for about five minutes
  • Watch the temperature gauge and do not allow the vehicle to overheat


Yes, the water can be used as a coolant only in unavoidable situations. However, the water will not work properly as the antifreeze since it may cause some damages to your engine. Always check the coolant and the cooling fan to avoid future problems in your cooling system.

Categorized as FAQ, Info

By Stella Grant

My name is Stella Grant. I am atrained mechanic with years of experience. Thanks to years experience I have plenty to share on auto maintenance and am willing to help you make your automobile work smooth – from the inside out.

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