While every coolant formulation starts with either an ethylene glycol or propylene glycol base, it is the inhibitor package that differentiates them. These inhibitors work differently to protect engine metals and control corrosion and come in three varieties:
• inorganic additive technology (IAT)
• organic additive technology (OAT)
• hybrid organic technology (HOAT)
These inhibitors do not always work when added together, so topping off with whatever coolant is handy can actually place the system at greater risk. Inhibitors need to be present in a certain concentration in order to protect the cooling system metals used for heavy duty applications and wet sleeve cylinders. Mixing different coolant formulations can dilute the inhibitor levels and leave the cooling system vulnerable to corrosion problems.
Engine manufacturers (OEMs) recommendations on mixing should be followed. But it’s not always possible to avoid mixing (especially when topping off). Some OEMs will recommend a system flush after mixing formulations to eliminate any incompatibility reactions that may occur. Some inhibitors may not be compatible with the seals and hoses on the equipment, and flushing reduces the risk of damage. If OAT and IAT coolant formulations are mixed, some OEMs simply recommend monitoring and treating the fluid as you would an IAT coolant.
Today’s advanced coolant technologies require educating maintenance personnel about how different formulations work and training them on how to maintain them in the equipment they are responsible for.
Whether you are using IAT, OAT OR HOAT formulations, coolant testing will help you monitor changes in coolant composition and provide recommendations for appropriate preventive maintenance action.
Learn more about getting a coolant analysis program started with POLARIS Laboratories®.
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