Tips for Choosing Engine Coolant for Your Truck

Engine coolant is vital in all vehicles. Trucks, however, have special demands for engine coolant, since they’re often hauling larger loads such as trailers, boats, or campers. This makes it important to know about engine coolant for your truck and to be able to pick one that will work well, thus eliminating the risk of overheating and possibly damaging your engine.

Types of Coolant

There are two basic types of engine coolant, or antifreeze, for modern vehicles. These are ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. The former is highly toxic and has to be used very carefully. In particular, it must not to be allowed to drain into the water table.

Propylene glycol, on the other hand, is more widely used and classed as safe by the FDA. It’s used in coolants of all types including aircraft de-icing, foods and toiletries. However, once again, it should not be allowed to drain into the water table.

As a general rule, engine coolant is mixed with water in a 50/50 ratio. You should never have water as less than 40% of the mixture. It’s often thought that the main function of coolant is to stop the engine freezing but the mixture also helps to lower the freezing point and increase the boiling point, which can be far more important. Where the wrong mixture of coolant is used, rust and corrosion can result as well as cylinder wall cavitation that can eventually kill your engine.

Freezing Point

People in especially cold climates, such as Minnesota or Alaska, will find propylene glycol needs to be in a higher concentration as an engine coolant since it’s not as efficient in lowering the freezing point. Those in other climates will find its heat transfer efficiency is much higher, making it far better for hauling large loads over uneven terrain.

Mixing Engine Coolant

You should never use water from the faucet to dilute concentrated engine coolant because it can cause scaling in the engine. You should always use distilled or de-ionized water instead. Most truck manufacturers will recommend using engine coolant that’s pre-diluted. This is always advisable because you know you’re getting the right mixture rather than relying on your own guesswork.


It’s important to read the label to know what type of engine coolant you’re buying and what type of inhibitors it contains. Engine coolant should be formulated so it meets national and international testing standards; the best ones should exceed them for additional safety. You can use recycled engine coolant as long as it meets international testing standards.


Color isn’t always indicative of a type of engine coolant. In general, however, the bright green color option is used in cars and is of a lighter duty. Orange coolant is for extended life and requires more attention to maintenance. It uses organic acid technology in order to protect the engine and should only be used in vehicles where systems have been designed for it. Be aware that this kind of engine coolant is more expensive even though it lasts a lot longer.