Can You Mix Yellow and Orange Antifreeze?

Understanding Effects of Mixing Yellow and Orange Antifreeze

Antifreeze is the life source of many vehicles, including cars and trucks. The coolant keeps engines from getting too hot, allowing them to continue running. In addition to keeping engines from overheating, it prevents corrosion and water from freezing.

At its core, antifreeze is a highly concentrated mixture of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol that’s designed to keep your car engine from freezing. It’s usually injected into the cooling system, constantly circulating throughout the radiator, heater core and other engine components. 

Antifreeze comes in different colors, chemical compositions and thermal stability. Below we discuss yellow and orange antifreeze. 

What happens if you mix yellow and orange antifreeze?

The chemical composition of each type of antifreeze is made up of a specific mixture of chemicals. However, mixing the two types can produce an undesirable effect on your car’s engine.

The result will be clear water with a cloudy appearance. Simply, the antifreeze in both types contains ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, which are soluble in water. So when mixed, they form an emulsion that has a cloudy appearance.

A cloudy appearance in your radiator can cause problems for your car’s engine since it prevents water from boiling off properly during normal driving conditions. This can lead to corrosion or rust on your engine’s cylinder walls, damaging them.

Consequences of Mixing Yellow and Orange Antifreeze

The most common consequence of mixing yellow and orange antifreeze is damage to engine parts. The gel that forms when the two types of antifreeze mix can clog up an engine’s cooling system, causing it to overheat or not work. 

In severe cases, this may cause a breakdown in the engine’s cooling system and lead to potential damage. Other problems associated with mixing yellow and orange antifreeze include:

Jamming the Engine

In extreme cases, mixing yellow and orange antifreeze can cause serious damage to your engine. If you don’t clean out your car after using the wrong type of antifreeze, you risk damaging your vehicle’s cooling system and causing serious problems for your car’s performance.

Damaged Parts

If you mix yellow and orange antifreeze, the chances are that some of your engine parts will become damaged. This can happen if there isn’t enough room between different types of antifreeze in an internal part of your car, like an engine block or cylinder head.

Reducing Engine Lifespan

When you mix orange and yellow antifreeze, you can lose up to 40% of your engine’s life. These two types of antifreeze react in different ways and cause different problems.

Orange antifreeze has a higher freezing point than yellow antifreeze so it will go through your radiator more quickly. So it will freeze before it reaches the engine. 

Differences Between Yellow and Orange Antifreeze

The main difference between yellow and orange antifreeze is their color. Orange antifreeze has a bright orange-yellow color, while yellow antifreeze has a more muted yellowish-greenish color. Here are other notable differences.

Chemical Composition

The main ingredient in both of them is propylene glycol. But the orange antifreeze has a higher concentration of propylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which keeps water in your car’s engine from freezing. 

The yellow antifreeze also contains ethylene glycol, although in a lower concentration.

Thermal stability

The main difference between yellow and orange antifreeze is the thermal stability. The thermal stability of water is measured in degrees Kelvin. The difference in thermal stability affects how long your vehicle stays cool in the summer months.

Yellow Antifreeze 

Yellow antifreeze is a petroleum-based product that has been designed to work in extreme temperatures. The yellow color of this product makes it easier to see, especially during storage.

It contains a small amount of sulfuric acid that reacts with the water in your engine’s cooling system. 

This reaction creates heat and pressure that forces any water out of your engine, replacing it with clean water. Yellow antifreeze effectively keeps your engine running efficiently during the winter months without worrying about freezing temperatures.

Orange Antifreeze

Orange antifreeze is a clear liquid that protects your car’s engine from freezing at temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit. It is made of glycol and water mixed to form a solution. The solution also contains antifreeze additives that help keep water from freezing.

You can use it in any car that has an automatic transmission or manual transmission. It will not work on diesel engines, though it may be used in cars with refrigerant systems instead of a compressor system.

The amount of orange antifreeze needed depends on the engine type and how cold it gets in your area. For example, if you live in Minnesota, where the winter season lasts six months each year, you will probably need more than in Florida, where winters are rarely below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Similarly, if you live somewhere with severe winters, like Maine or Alaska, you may need to use a lot more Orange Antifreeze than if your area only sees snowfall occasionally during the winter months.

Orange antifreeze has several benefits over other types of antifreeze. These benefits include:

  • Reduces corrosion and rusting

Ethylene glycol prevents corrosion-induced damage to metal parts such as hoses and pipes in your engine compartment. This reduces the risk of corrosion when you drive over potholes or on dirt roads where you may use salt for deicing.

  • Reduces fuel consumption 

Ethylene glycol keeps your engine warm enough, so it doesn’t need to work as hard when you drive over the same distance as with other types of antifreeze.

Mixing Yellow and Orange Antifreeze

Mixing yellow and orange antifreeze is not a good idea. The two types of antifreeze have different freezing points, and the mixture will separate, causing the more concentrated orange antifreeze layer to float on top of the layer of yellow antifreeze. Over time, this can cause damage to your engine.

The best way to prevent this problem is to use only one type of antifreeze in each tank or radiator. If you must mix the two types, do so when changing them out.

Bottom Line

Although mixing antifreeze is not recommended, it may be necessary in some cases. Either color alone (orange or yellow) can prevent freezing temperatures. Additionally, mixing two types of materials may produce a product that is still safe to use and possibly more effective; however, this depends on the formulation of both products.

Products with ethylene glycol are likely to separate after several months in storage.

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