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Coolant, also referred to as antifreeze, is fluid that is just as important to a vehicle’s engine as oil, fuel, and brake fluid, etc. Engine coolant is a fluid that is mixed with water to ensure the radiator doesn’t freeze in extreme cold or overheat in extreme heat. In this post, we’ll be going over what is included in coolant, when coolant should be changed, and what type of coolant should be used in Audi’s and Volkswagen’s.
What is in Engine Coolant?
Engine coolant is made up of propylene glycol, or ethylene glycol, and its own additives. There are three different types of antifreeze: G11, G12, and G13. So what are the differences between the three? G11 is blue or green and is made up of a silicate base that contains inorganic additives. G11 coolant is mainly used in vehicles manufactured before 1996, however, some vehicles up to 2016 could use G11 coolant because of its low heat transfer quality. This coolant has a service life of 3 years.
G12 coolant is red or pink and is made up of carboxylate and ethylene glycol. It is used in high-performance engines with operating temperatures of 90-110 degrees. G12 coolant has a service life of 4-5 years. There are 3 different G12 coolants: G12, G12+ (Red), and G12++ (Purple). G13 coolant is a hybrid that is made up of an optimal ratio of silicate and organic components. This coolant has a service life of 5 years.
When Should Engine Coolant Be Changed?
A good rule of thumb when it comes to changing engine coolant is to refer to the owner’s manual. Typically, engine coolant should be changed every 3-4 years. The longer engine coolant runs in an engine, it begins to break down, becomes weak, and also becomes dirty. This type of dirty and weak coolant running through the engine will put the engine at risk of overheating, which will dampen the longevity of the engine. For the best protection and performance, we highly suggest flushing and replacing the coolant in your Volkswagen or Audi every 40,000-50,000 miles or every 3-4 years, whichever comes first.
What Coolant Should Be Use in Volkswagen’s or Audi’s?
Again, a good rule of thumb, look in the owner’s manual. If you can’t find it in the manual, it also should be marked on the coolant tank itself. Early Volkswagen’s and Audi’s from the model years 1980 – 1997 use G11 Coolant, 1998 – 2008 use G12+, and 2008-present use G12++ Coolant & G13 Coolant. However, it’s not always a one-size-fits-all when it comes to engine coolant. That’s why we advise looking at the manual and/or engine coolant tank.
When it comes to mixing engine coolant, you need to be careful. Most Volkswagen and Audi engines use G12 coolant. You can’t mix G12 coolant with any other engine coolant. If you don’t have spare G12 coolant to add, then flush the coolant tank out and use the spare coolant you may have laying around. If it is not the correct coolant according to the manual, we would not advise using it at all.
Volkswagen/Audi G12 Coolant Conclusion
To conclude this post, make sure to look at the owner’s manual or look at the engine coolant tank itself. G12 coolant is more expensive than G11 coolant, but it is for a reason. Make sure to use the proper coolant going off of the manual because although it may seem fine in the short term, the coolant could break down at a quicker pace and ruin your engine. When topping off the coolant tank, a good rule of thumb is to use the same color coolant that is already in the tank. Something to note, make sure to check if you need to dilute it with distilled water. A majority of the time, bottles of coolant are just concentrate that needs to be diluted.
If you are looking to read more Volkswagen content, here is our write-up on The 7 Most Common VW 2.0T TSI Engine Problems.