Does Water Cool Better Than Antifreeze – Why Or Why Not?

Does water cool better than antifreeze? The debate between using clean water or antifreeze as a coolant in a vehicle’s cooling system has been ongoing for years.

Both options have pros and cons, and understanding different aspects of each can help you make a certain decision on what coolant to use.

In this article, I will help you explore the question of water vs antifreeze – which is better to use and the reasons behind it.

Does Water Cool Better Than Antifreeze?

does water cool better than antifreeze

Does antifreeze cool better than water, or vice versa? 

Yes and no.

While water has efficient heat transfer properties, antifreeze offers added benefits of freeze and boil protection, corrosion inhibitors defense, and overall performance in extreme weather conditions.

Therefore, I usually use a proper mixture of water and antifreeze as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

It is crucial to ensure optimal cooling system performance and prevent potential engine damage.

Pros And Cons Of Using Water For Engine Cooling

Is water better than coolant? There are many features to consider when mentioning antifreeze vs water.

Therefore, I will pitch their strengths and weaknesses against each other.


Excellent Heat Transfer

Clean water has high thermal conductivity; hence, it can efficiently absorb and dissipate heat from the vehicle.

This helps maintain optimal engine operating temperatures, preventing overheating and engine failure.

Doing so will prevent costly damage due to overheating.


Can water be used as coolant? Water is widely available and inexpensive, making it a cheaper solution for engine coolant.

This can be particularly beneficial for those on a budget or looking for a more economical cooling solution.

Using naturally water mix as a coolant can also be advantageous when frequent coolant changes are required, such as in racing or high-performance applications.

Environmentally Friendly

Water is a natural resource and does not contain harmful chemical products or pollutants – a more environmentally conscious choice for engine cooling.

Does water work as coolant? Using distilled water as a coolant mixture can reduce the potential negative impact on the environment.

Especially if you want to minimize the use of potentially negative fluid in your vehicle maintenance practices, this may be a good option.

High Heat Capacity

Can you use water as engine coolant? Clean water can soak in and store a significant amount of heat energy without experiencing a substantial increase in hot weather.

As a result, it is suitable for use in applications that require efficient heat transfer, such as engine cooling.


Freezing and Boiling Point

Can water be used instead of coolant? Water has a relatively high freezing point, which can be problematic in cold temperatures or during winter.

If water freezes in the engine cooling system, it can expand and potentially cause damage to the engine block, radiator, or other components.

Additionally, water can reach its boiling point under extreme conditions, such as during prolonged high-speed driving or heavy towing.

Steam formation, loss of coolant, and eventually engine overheating are on the horizon.

Corrosion and Rust

The water pump is a good conductor of electricity and can protect the engine from metal component corrosion over time.

This liquid form can result in the formation of rust inhibitors and other deposits.

That build-up will degrade the cooling system’s efficiency and lead to premature wear and tear on the car’s parts, ending up with costly repairs.

Pros And Cons of Using Antifreeze For Engine Cooling

coolant or water

Is coolant better than water? I will show you some key benefits and drawbacks of antifreeze when working on the engine cooling process.


Freeze and Boil Protection

Antifreeze/coolant mixtures are designed to lower the freezing point of the coolant, preventing it from freezing in colder temperatures.

Additionally, different types of antifreeze levels raise the boiling point of the coolant. It can withstand higher temperatures without vaporizing, which can help prevent car overheating.

Corrosion and Rust Protection

Antifreeze/coolant contains additives that help inhibit the formation of rust inhibitors and corrosion in the engine cooling system.

This protective coating can extend the life of engine components and maintain the cooling system’s efficiency.


It’s worth noting that some antifreeze formulations may contain small amounts of lubricating additives that can help reduce friction and wear in the water pump and other cooling system components.

These lubricating additives are usually minimal and not intended to replace the need for proper lubrication of engine parts with dedicated engine oil or other lubricants.



Antifreeze mix can be more expensive than water, especially if you opt for the premium or specialized formulations. This can add to the overall cost of vehicle maintenance.

Environmental Impact

Some antifreeze formulations contain chemicals that can harm the environment if improperly handled or disposed of.

Ethylene glycol, a common antifreeze ingredient, is toxic and can be a danger to wildlife and the environment if it leaks or spills.


Antifreeze requires regular maintenance, including periodic coolant changes, to ensure optimal performance.

I often forgot to properly maintain the mix of antifreeze and noticed reduced effectiveness in preventing freezing or boiling soon after that.

There is also potential damage to the engine components.


is water better than coolant

Are There Any Environmental Considerations Between Water And Antifreeze For My Car’s Cooling System?

Yes, water is a natural and abundant resource that is widely available, making it more eco-friendly in terms of availability and sourcing.

The effects of antifreeze, however, are more detrimental.

It may contain toxic chemicals and potentially contaminate soil, groundwater, and surface water if not handled or disposed of properly.

How Often Should You Change The Antifreeze In Your Car?

The frequency of antifreeze change depends on the type of antifreeze used in your car and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

As a general guideline, I will change my conventional antifreeze every 2-3 years or 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Long-life or extended antifreeze can typically last up to 5 years or 100,000 miles.

To maintain its lifespan, don’t mix it with oil.

However, it’s best to refer to your car’s owner’s manual or talk to a qualified mechanic for specific recommendations based on your car’s make, model, and usage conditions.


Does water cool better than antifreeze? The choice between water and antifreeze as a coolant boils down to various factors such as climate, vehicle usage, and maintenance practices.

It is vital to consider the specific requirements of your vehicle before deciding the correct type of antifreeze in your vehicle’s cooling system.

Also, consult your vehicle’s manufacturer recommendations for optimal cooling performance.

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