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Today, most automobiles, especially high- performance models like the Corvette, are equipped with an aluminum radiator rather than the older copper/brass units. The reason for this is that modern engines run hotter and aluminum dissipates heat much better than copper or brass. The result is better cooling for these high-demand engines. The key to maximizing the life of an alum- inum radiator is not so much the coolant brand as it is the water type. All coolants sold today will protect aluminum radiators adequately; however distilled water must be part of the package. Concentrated coolants create a potential problem because this lets the installer choose the water source and that is where many make a big mistake. All water sources contain various minerals that can eat through aluminum despite having an inhibitor package in the coolant. So what are the possible sources of water? Let's start with well water, which is typically full of iron and very hard. If that well water is softened, then it contains sodium or salt. Tap water from your local municipal supply will have various amounts of calcium, floride, and chlorine. So, the only way to insure that the water you use is chemical and mineral free is to purchase distilled water from the local grocery store. The older copper radiators spoiled us because they were so forgiving with these minerals. Old timers will have a hard time with
this water requirement because they have used all types of water without any problems in the past. The solution to this water problem is pretty simple: do not purchase the concen- trated coolant. Buy the coolant in a pre-mixed form to eliminate the possibility of any errors. Pre-mixed coolants already contain the distilled water and the proper ratio to make filling your cooling system simple. You no longer have to pre-mix the coolant or guess at what water ratio you have. Just pour it in and forget it. I recommend getting a five year coolant and replacing it every three years to be safe. The reason coolants have a term on life is because that is how long the inhibitor package will last. Remember this, it has nothing to do with the color of the coolant when determining the condition of the inhibitor package. When the inhibitor package decays you no longer are protected from minerals eating through the aluminum. I recommend you purchase a pre-mixed coolant to insure water quality and eliminate the need for mixing.
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