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Does Miss Nomer Have A Car Problem? (Coolant Misnomer)

Antifreeze, coolant, antifreeze/coolant, etcetera, are names given to a liquid vital to a liquid-cooled-engine’s life.

Once called Antifreeze, many car drivers were confused by this misnomer. Antifreeze does not sound like something that would help an over-heating car. So, the word coolant was added and now we have antifreeze/coolant.

I am surprised by how many Car Talk discussion questions pertain to “no heat” or “low heat” issues during the winter, but I’m not surprised that drivers don’t suspect their cooling systems. Why suspect a system that uses antifreeze/coolant to be the culprit of a heat problem?

Antifreeze/coolant provides heat transfer for cooling, corrosion inhibiting compounds for system health, and provides heat transfer for defrosting and passenger comfort.

I think it’s time for a change. Antifreeze/coolant needs a new name. “Antifreeze/Coolant/Heater Fluid” might be better. It would take a while, but people might eventually associate this product with heater problems.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Have you got a better name for the stuff?

I think the reason people don’t consider the engine cooling system, or the fluid contained therein, when they have heater problems is that they don’t realize there’s a connection.

To me it’s coolant, and that’s usually how I refer to it. Sometimes I’ll say antifreeze, depending on how an OP asks a question, but I think of it as coolant.

Precisely The Problem! That’s It!

Brake fluid is for brakes.
Power steering fluid is for power steering.
Transmission fluid is for transmissions.
Window washer fluid is for window washers.

Antifreeze/coolant for heaters?

Yes, it is a good idea, but in a world where the vast majority of car owners can’t even figure out how to open the glove compartment and take out the Owner’s Manual, don’t get your hopes too high.

I don’t know that the problem lies within the naming of the coolant at all. I’m no mechanic but have understood that the heater/defroster works from the transfer of the heat from the engine, since the first times I had problems with it as a teenager with a car. Its a matter of the layman understanding how that works and I don’t think that will ever change. Without knowing the facts, no one’s first assumption will be that the heater works off a “cooling system” for the engine. Its just a confusing thing for non-mechanical people (or those, just not informed)

I am routinely surprised by how some folks think changing the name of something will make a difference, especially silly acronyms that are supposed to spell something clever. Want to take part in an internship sponsored by a university? Try looking for “community-based transformational learning.” Have the secretary’s duties changed? Let’s start calling her an “administrative assistant” but not give her a raise.

I don’t know what the solution is, but calling it “heater fluid” isn’t going to make a difference to somebody who doesn’t bother to check all of the fluids already.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese Is What I’m Talking About.

That is a product name that describes the product. “Detroit AntiFreeze-Coolant / Heater Fluid” is the type of name I would consider.

I totally agree that confusing names like “community-based transformational learning” aren’t helpful. They are silly.

I take it that you don’t like the idea.

I usually use the term anti-freeze for people because most of them see TV commercials (or, is that “ads”?) which use the word, and see the word. I use the term coolant when some persons seem more savvy on talking “car”. Whichever seems to confuse less. I can’t endorse adding one more word to a name. I think it would increase the confusion.

Well, it isn’t that I don’t like the idea. It isn’t the worst idea I have ever read. I don’t think it will solve the problem though.

Once it’s in the engine, I call the mixture of water and ethylene glycol “coolant”, a nice short word. The 50/50 premixed water/glycol that is sold could also be called “coolant”. The 100% glycol could then be sold as “coolant conditioner”, perhaps.

Temperature Maintainance Fluid ?

Ken, That Would Take Some “Getting Accustomed To”, But I Like The Idea.

That’s more all-around descriptive than Coolant. It’s vague as far as whether we’re talking about engine temperature or passenger temperature, but I think vague is good in this case. Coolant is too specific and too “narrow” and incomplete.

Good One! What about just “Temperature Fluid”?

IMHO it’s overkill. And I still doubt that those who don’t make the connection would have any broader an understanding.

Perhaps if in it’s infancy, when men first started taking water from the river that industry was polluting with ethelyn-glycol to put in their radiators because they discovered it didn’t freeze as readily, they had called it “heat transfer fluid”…but hey, who knew?

Besides, anyone who doesn’t understand how the systems work should probably be going to a shop anyway.