Different coolant types and which is best?

It seems that coolant is getting to be like oil where everyone has an opinion. There are now so many types/colors of the stuff and people all have their idea of what is best.

I personally have been flushing mine and replacing with the long life universal coolant. I know others that will only use a pink Toyota fluid in everything they own. Some like Dex-Cool while others avoid it like the plaque.

Any opinions? It seems the only one that I haven’t heard anything bad about is the Toyota pink.

I am no expert on this but know that you don’t just use any old transmission fluid in any transmission. Some cars are picky and you want the OEM fill back in the transmission. Is this ever an issue with coolant being designed just for a certain type of car?

I believe that any reputable long life coolant will do, including Dexcool. However, I do not like flushing a system unless there is a problem, and if the PM schedule is followed, there should not be a problem that requires a flush. You should treat your coolant the same as you do your oil, drain and refill according to the schedule.

Edit: Same for automatic transmissions.

Agreed! I just hear so many people who rag on Dex-Cool. When I “flush” a system, I usually just use water. Some of the used cars I get require a little more because the PO didn’t maintain them well. People on the Geo Metro forums like to use white vinegar to flush the system as it is a little less harsh than the commercial flushes on cooling system components. If it is a car where I plan to replace the water pump, I don’t worry too much and just wait until after the flush to replace that in case damage is done by the chemicals to it.

Agreed on the automatic transmissions. I think these would last a lot longer than they do if people kept up with them like most do their engine oil. People change their oil every 3000 miles which is likely overkill for most modern cars but don’t give their transmission a second thought.

I don’t understand why everybody insists on making everything so complicated

In every owner’s manual, it says what coolant to use. it usually says to use coolant meeting spec number such and such

The easiest and most expensive thing to to do is get the coolant at the dealer

The second easiest thing is to get a different brand coolant, which meets that spec

For example Zerex G-05, which meets Benz, Ford and some other specs. And which is readily available at parts stores

As the others said, I think all of the coolant types are just fine . . . as long as it gets changed on time, and you don’t drive the vehicle with chronically low coolant levels

As far as flushing goes . . . don’t bother, unless there is a problem. I’ve flushed a few plugged heater cores, using a water hose with a “jet” nozzle attached to the end. No chemicals. Recently, one of the cars that I flushed the heater core came in for its regular scheduled service. Still has toasty air coming out of the defroster vents, about 5 years after flusing it. I must say, when I flushed it, the original 10 year old coolant was in there. Pure neglect

I’ve never flushed an entire cooling system. Not yet, anyways

I prefer to use what came with it. If I have to change, then I’d drain, ‘rinse’ (fill and drain with plain water), then use the new stuff.

I don’t mix types if I can avoid it.

Why the industry has splintered into so many types baffles me. The Ford table of coolants has a half dozen different types, varying by model and by year, some changing halfway through the model year. NUTS…

Vote number three for the same. The manual will tell you. I am a little skeptic concerning “mixes with any other coolant claims on the container.” I know that every manufacturer “wants” you to buy their coolant ( and transmission fluid) but the changes are so infrequent for coolant, why take the chance. The manual in my cars pretty much spells out the fluid type explicitly. Now, if Walmart or whomever carries the exact type and brand specified, so be it. Other wise, I will get the fluid from the source it instructs.

Strange. I knew transmission fluids had different standards but didn’t know they were also that picky about coolants.

We’re happy with Toyota’s Extra Long Life coolant. I keep a jug “with ready to add” in my garage. So far, after nearly 8 years I have yet needed to top up the Toyota.

I’ve always stuck with the green stuff that’s been around for decades and never experienced any problems with it.

I’m with db and the others. I simply use what the manufacturer provided. So that’s Dexcool in the Pontiac, and Honda coolant in the Acura. I figure I can’t go wrong. Now on the Olds, I just use the green stuff if any ever leaks out. It really isn’t all that more expensive at the dealer anymore. A little more but not a lot and if you don’t use any anyway, what difference does it make?


Your statements are a little confusing

If you haven’t needed to top up the coolant level, that means you haven’t been losing any coolant, externally or internally

What does that have to do with using the correct coolant type?

it seems to me, if you use the correct coolant type and have to top off, it got burned in the combustion chamber, or you’ve got an external leak

I use Prestone universal coolant in all the vehicles that come into the shop.

It mixes with all coolants so it doesn’t matter what vehicle it’s added to. And I don’t have to inventory all the different coolants spec’d out by each manufacturer.

In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never had a problem with cooling systems of any of the vehicles I’ve used the universal coolant in.


I pretty much use Prestone, Peak, and even Wal Mart branded coolant with never a problem.
I seem to remember that Ford alone has about a dozen different coolant specs and it all seems like technical overkill to me.

@db4690 My other car has the Toyota coolant and it’s a lot older.

Like others, I got burnt with DEX Cool which ate the radiator on my Nissan.

The Toyota will have a coolant change in February when it reaches 96 months as per the service manual.

Is this ever an issue with coolant being designed just for a certain type of car?

I think it is. Some shops use a “one size fits all” coolant because they think it saves them shelf space or inventory and is easier but I don’t believe that to be true. And for the home DIY’er it’s really not true unless you have 10 cars at home.

I replace the coolant with whatever the car came with originally. That way there’s never any question as to whether the product is suitable for the car. Coolant only gets changed out every several years or when you have a breakdown. If you have a leak, you’re buying parts anyway, might as well buy the right coolant at the same time. And aside from some Euro brands, the difference in cost between plain old green coolant and any other long-life is less than $5/gallon.

My '06 Toyota came with the pink coolant.
I changed it early, at 5 years. Simply drained the radiator and refilled with pink.
One gallon was just enough. The old stuff looked just like the new.
Since it comes pre-mixed I didn’t try to flush with water, so the concentration stays right.
At the next 5 year change I’ll replace the thermostat & radiator cap.

I change my coolant according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and replace it with the recommended fluid. Our 2003 Silhouette uses Dex-Cool and we haven’t had problems after almost 12 years and 156,000 miles.


Can you please explain how Dexcool ate the radiator on your Nissan?

Does your Nissan call for Dexcool?

Is your Nissan a rebadged GM vehicle?

How old was the radiator when it got eaten?

What part of the radiator failed?

I used Dexcool in my Nissan radiator. Put it in and forgot about it for 7 years. It didn’t eat my radiator and the radiator is now 17 years old.

My chev I switched to peak global because of my conceived risk for dexcool sludging problems.