What’s the Difference Between Coolant and Refrigerant?

Casey’s team in Chantilly, VA, is often asked if there is a difference between coolant (antifreeze) and refrigerant (sometimes known as Freon). There is indeed a difference, and each of them is used for separate components. In this piece, we will cover where they are used and when you should have them inspected. 

Coolant is for the Engine

Coolant is the liquid that cools your engine. Your vehicle’s engine runs hot and requires a cooling system to keep it operating at an optimal temperature regardless of the season. In most cars and trucks, the cooling system works by circulating radiator fluid (a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water) through the engine, which will absorb the heat and cool the engine. 

Coolant also contains antifreeze. By having a coolant that runs through the engine block’s channels, the system stays regulated in both warmer and colder months. For the coolant to do its job correctly, it must remain in a liquid form. It is vital in the colder months we see in Chantilly, VA. If your vehicle is sitting overnight in below-freezing temperatures, and your coolant mixture gets too low (more water than antifreeze), you run the risk of freezing your engine block. When your vehicle’s cooling system isn’t operating optimally, the cause could be your radiator. At Casey’s, we recommend a coolant flush every 50,000 miles or when the coolant has lost freezing resistance or is dirty.

Refrigerant is for the A/C System

While it is the coolant’s job to keep your engine from overheating, it is the refrigerant that keeps you cool on your drive. Like your home’s A/C system, a vehicle’s system also requires a refrigerant. The refrigerant is heated and cooled during a process that runs in a continuous loop. When you turn on your vehicle’s A/C system, you activate its compressor. The compressor takes the refrigerant and compresses it at high temperatures. The refrigerant then moves into the condenser. While it is flowing through the condenser’s twisting tubes, airflow begins to cool it down so that the liquid is now prepared to enter the receiver-dryer. 

Unlike coolant, the refrigerant isn’t a fluid that will need to be flushed. Since the A/C system is a closed unit, no refrigerant issues should crop up unless there is a problem. Such as a leak or if the system ceases to work. In an event such as that, a technician will take steps to diagnose the issue. If the problem found shows refrigerant levels are too low, a recharging process will take place. 

Coolant Flush and Refrigerant Recharge at Casey’s Automotive in Chantilly, Virginia 

When it comes to servicing the refrigerant in your air conditioner, call on the team you can trust. Casey’s technicians in Chantilly, VA, are thoroughly trained to handle refrigerants safely and efficiently. While we flush the coolant in your engine when needed, we also flush other fluids such as power steering, hydraulic/brake, fuel injection, and transmission. Schedule your service through our website, or give us a call! 

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