I'm preparing my Model T for the big moment in the life of every Model T restorer. To be cranked up for the first time in 10 years. I will be filling the radiator and need to get a consensus on the best mixture of anti-freeze to water that will not only provide the most efficient cooling properties, but will provide a certain degree of rust inhibitors to keep down the formation of rust flakes in the water jacket (is there a rust inhibitor additive). My T is not equipped with a water pump so no water pump lube will be necessary.
Also, what has been decided is the most efficient oil to put in the crankcase? Along with the recommended brand and weight, please specify if your recommendation is detergent or non. Many thanks. Jim Patrick
Jim - for what it's worth - I have become very much in favor of SAE 20W single grade. I used to use SAE 30, but choose to swap to 20W here at winter.
To my big surprise the engine made less mechanical noise and did not leak more than normal.
I wonder if the fact that the thinner oil makes a larger flow of oil is the explanation. If it is, it certainly gives some thought to those that use multigrade oil, where the oil is thin enough as cold(similar to SAE 20W) but thicker when warm.
(and now we let the can of worms open.....;-)
Get a good brand of anti freeze with additives in it and follow the instructions on the container. Some require water to be added others don't.They've done the work for you. Oil? I use 30 wt. non detergent all year long.
I shouild have mentioned that I'm in Florida where, except for infrequent cold snaps, the overall winter temperature is an average of 65 degrees F. and rarely gets below 45 degrees. Jim Patrick
Thank you Charlie. Normally, I would read and follow the instructions, but the instructions and studies have been done to accomodate modern cars with a waterpump and other accessories such as air conditioner, heater, alternator and power steering. The Model T, with its' unique thermo-siphon system and propensity to overheat and rust, is a totally different animal altogether and requires a little more thought and consideration in this regard. Jim patrick
When I pulled our T out of the barn after being stored for 45 years I found that the radiator had green antifreeze in it and it was good to -30F.
There was about 3/4 inch of flaky rust in the bottom that was quite firm that looked like it had been there for years but the liquid was clear.
I knocked the rust loose with a screwdriver and bottle brush.
Then I soaked the radiator with vinegar and rinsed it.
After I was done I filled it with plain water and drove for a few miles.
When I drained it came out clear.
I'm a NASCAR Short Track Official and we don't allow anything except water in the radiators because the track is get really slippery and hard to clean when there is antifreeze or water wetter.
Many of the crew chiefs try to slip in water wetter or antifreeze because it helps the motors run cooler
It is a constant fight to catch them.
That was a long story to tell you that I plan on using standard antifreeze because it helps cooling and protects metal parts.
As with any antifreeze, Don't use more than necessary for your weather region to keep the coolant from freezing. The more you add, the less effective the Model T cooling system. Antifreeze actually reduces the heat exchange properties designed into the cooling system.
Never use 100% antifreeze. In fact, you should never use more than 70/30 antifreeze to water mixture. Once the mixture of antifreeze exceeds 70%, the freezing point actually goes up. 100% antifreeze will turn solid at 10 degrees fahrenheit.
50/50 is typically what is used in most modern vehicles in the continental U.S. and is good to minus 34 fahrenheit. I'm in Minneapolis and it never gets colder than minus 20 fahrenheit (which is rare) and I run 50/50 in my modern car. If I lived further north I would run 60/40 or 70/30.
Antifreeze comes in bottles in either 100% antifreeze or 50/50 antifreeze to water mixture. If you purchase the 50/50 mixture, you are paying for water. Buy 100% and mix it yourself.
What I have gleaned from various sites with out
considering the +/-‘s of various special additives.
Most recommendations are for no more than 70% Ethylene Glycol,
and a minimum mix of 50/50 is recommended to insure the initial
anti corrosion (ph) level is not compromised by dilution.
The green stuff appears to be adequate when aluminum is not a factor.
I go by the spec which is 50-50.
If you get the premixed stuff it is already 50-50
the heat capacity of 50/50 is 0.85 BTU/lb F vs 1 for water
But the boiling point on an unpressurised system is 223F vs 212F
Thus they off set each other.
The main advantages are that the surface tension is lower giving better contact with the metal -thus better heat transfer
and the rust and corrosion inhibitors.
What spec are you talking about? I'd like to see that "50/50 recommendation" you recite for the Model T. Seeing as how ethylene glycol antifreeze wasn't readily available during Model T production, how could it have been "recommended". You're reading the recommendations of the producer of the product for modern cars. The more you use, the better for them, not your car. If it never gets below 20 degrees where you drive, it's silly as well as degrading your cooling system to use more. That's why I recommend using only what's needed to protect your system from freezing. In a thermosyphon system, that's all you need.
Any you're concerned about raising the boiling point 11 degrees?
So Ken, are you saying that Jim should use straight water in his car since where he lives it rarely drops below 45F?
Jim: I understand the demands on a modern cooling system far exceed the T's needs however: The block radiator and hoses are escentially the same materials. Do you really want to drain "glycol" out of the system after every uesage as they did in the old days? Anti freeze from a name brand manufacturer is what should be used and would have been used back then if they had it. Drain and refill once a year if you must but it isn't necessary. As far as the additives in the modern stuff goes I'll say again if they had them back then they would have used them.
Seth, if Ken won't say so I will, Straight water and just an anti corrosion inhibitor, anti freeze or ethylene glycol has it's place and times to use it, something that is not written on the container, but from 50+ years of a family owned radiator sevice experience, is that ethylene glycol will slowly eat solder, many a good radiator has been stuffed by using it to strong a mix, even in a few new cars that had not even made it off the show room floor.
If the climate doesn't warrant it don't use it.
No Seth, I didn't say Jim should use straight water.
Well it certainly isn't going to freeze at 45F and you did say, "That's why I recommend using only what's needed to protect your system from freezing."
I'm not going to argue with you Seth. The line of conversation was about antifreeze mixtures and that's what I addressed. If you're inferring that I said use plain water, you are mistaken. Kerry covered the use of an anti-corrosion additive. And there's wetters available as well. Some additives contain both.
Here is the recommend levels of anti-freeze for the Model T .....
Print then Cut out and paste this chart and mount it in your cold garage
Ford Owner, Nov 1924
Oh..by the way, most recommended a water pump to keep the radiator from freezing too, fast circulation would mix the alcohol better with the water. Using regular thermo-syphon, the engine develops a lot of heat (near boiling) to move the coolant, so the alcohol could be evaporated and loose the proper mixture to prevent freezing.
Wow can you imagine using Calcium Chloride for antifreeze! Talk about a corroded cooling system.
A friend of mine has an old Antifreeze can. I can't remember which brand.It was an alcohol and Glycerin mixture.
Actually, it doesn't take "near boiling" temperatures to move coolant. The convection starts as soon as there's a difference in coolant temperature between the block and the radiator. Presumably, this could be as low as one degree. Since "cooler" liquid is more dense than "warmer" liquid, it sinks to the bottom of the radiator. The warmer liquid, being less dense and lighter, rises and in doing so draws cooler liquid from the bottom of the radiator.
You can see this happening in a pan of water on a stove burner. It starts long before the water gets anywhere near boiling. You will see the water start to move as convection starts. And it starts almost immediately.
I didn't mean to sound argumentative though I know I come across that way more often than not.
My computer is on it's way out (crashing) so since I'm likely to be in the dark real soon:
Thank you for all the informative "how to" threads. I've learned far more than I've contributed so I'm forever in debt with all of you.
I hope that each and every one of you and your loved ones have the best holiday season ever.
There are some new antifreeze formulations that offer extended corrosion protection. In my fleet we use a pre-diluted product that avoids mixing with water. It is cross compatible with other antifreeze formulations to some degree.
This is what I will be using in our model T's.http://www.fleetchargeantifreeze.com/fleetchrg5050_spec.htm
Okay, from what I gather by reading between the lines, the more antifreeze that is used, the less efficient the heat exchange properties are in the thermo-siphon system, which seems to be confirmed by Dan Treace's chart in which Ford recommends a 5% anti-freeze and 95% water for the Model T in Florida in the winter. I always thought that anti-freeze acted as a rust inhibitor. Now that there is so little needed, is there an additive that could be used to inhibit the formation of rust?
As for oil, I assume, since not much was said about it following Chrlie B.'s recommendation that everyone concurs that 30 wt, non-detergent oil is best?
Non detergent oil should not be used in any car you care about. It will guarantee that sludge is going to block your already feeble oiling system. What ever you do, don't use non detergent oil. It will halve the life of your engine.
The so - called "multi viscosity" oils are somewhat of a misnomer. 5W-30 acts like 30 weight oil when hot. In winter temperatures it remains as fluid as 5 weight oil. This means it gets to your bearings, pistons, and transmission parts sooner, preventing wear. It also means on a cold day you can still hand crank the engine.
Thicker oil is not better oil.
Here's the same thing in a consumer brand (Peak).
Either way, we should get extended corrosion protection.http://www.peakantifreeze.com/antifreeze-peak-long_life_5050_prediluted.shtml
Jim, Since you're asking for opinions. If I lived where you live, I'd use 10w30 detergent oil in the summer and 5w30 detergent oil in the winter. I would rather have more splash and flow than oil starvation upon cold start.
As far as coolant, I use 50/50 Prestone Ethylene Glycol. If you have an aluminum head use Propylene Glycol. or the type antifreeze that will mix with anything. I mix with distilled water only. If you choose to use a lighter mixture because of your climate, read the chart on the back of then jug for mixing ratios. Use a good quality brand name antifreeze so it will be sure to have the rust protection necessary.
If 30 wt. non D will halve an engines life I should have been walking 10 years ago through 2 T's.
I have to agree with John Birch on the oil and he made a point I was going to make about the use of distilled water. That helps cut down on corrosion by not addidng harmfull disolved elements into the system that can be in tap water leading to corrosion and worsening rust. I like 5w-30 year round, but I live as far from Florida as an American can get and still live in the states, not counting Alaska.
Have fun and good luck
Dan's chart reminded me of a story my uncle told me years ago when he was a teenage kid. The weather was changing and beginning to get very cold. Grandma sent Uncle Roy to town to buy alcohol for the radiator. Alcohol was expensive and you could buy kerosene much cheaper. He said "The only thing to do was to buy kerosene instead and spend the left over money on candy bars." He said the kerosene boiled out in just a little bit. I he ended up having to walk several miles because of his dastardly deed.
My only experience with anti-freeze is in California where it rarely freezes. I use 50 percent antifreeze and 50 percent water (approximately). Actually I use one gallon of anti freeze and fill the rest with distilled water and if I need to add coolant, I add distilled water. I have had no corrosion problem and also no heating problem. I have driven in 100+ degree weather without boiling and in 40 degree weather without a problem. When it does rarely freeze, I don't usually drive the T.
I use 10W30 oil. No known problem with that oil. I suspect that if the winters were colder I might try 5W20 in winter.
The topic of oil is something Royce and I will never see eye to eye about, always some factors to consider with the history of your motor, was it using non detergant before, has it been pulled down and desludged, cleaned etc, or are you going to flush, Royce states "thicker oil is not better oil" well I think the same about thinner, 5w is a oil designed for the modern motor the oil is synthetic and full of friction modifers which I don't agree are good for the T trans, clutch and bands etc, but some forum posters prefer it for the colder climate, it works for them and own choice, The T is a simple motor and has simple needs, many oil companies make an oil designed for early motors offering no sludging,corrosion and oxidisation and in several grades, my own choice is Valvoline 20w/50 we don't freeze in winter and hot summers and works fine for me.
I am always amazed at the idea of using oil thicker than what will flow on any given day and thicker than the bearing clearances.
And "it works for me". BS
Last week I ran an oil pump in a '40 Buick with an electric drill through the distributor hole. When the oil was pumping up into the oil galley areas it started putting a load on the drill motor. When everything filled and it got oil pressure it almost spun the drill out of my hands.I could hardly hold it.
I had filled the engine with 10-40.
I will never use oil that thick again.
10-30 or 5-30 is heavy enough for all cars in all weather.
I had the valve cover off and could see the oil globbing up on the pushrods as it came out around the rocker arms. It was so thick it hung like gobs of grease to the rockers and push rods.
With all auto manufacturers recommending 5-30 and even some want us to use 0-20 why would you want to put that roofing tar in your T?
It's a SLASH SYSTEM!! did you ever try to splash cold tar?
Ford recommended a "light oil".
In later years they said to use 20 in the summer.
What I said will not change the mind of the guys that know that oil and automotive engineers don't know what they know but it may help those who asked.
Information was just published in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club Newsletter concerning the use of "extended life" antifreeze in cars over 10 years old.
In a nutshell--don't do it!
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should an "Extended Life" antifreeze, which utilizes Organic Additive Technology (OAT, H-OAT, or N-OAT) as one of its chemicals, ever be used in our cars over 10 years old. It attacks the gaskets and gasket cements in our cars, causing major leaks and forcing ultra-expensive repairs. The "Silver Ghost Association" Rolls Royce people have documented massive cooling system failures apparently caused by this anti-freeze product.
Antifreeze that can be used safely in our cars uses older-fashioned Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT) additive.
You cannot tell by the color of the antifreeze if it's safe to use. Also, the product may be labelled "Safe for Older Cars"--meaning 10 years old at most. Brands to be AVOIDED are all Prestone lines and Zerex's G-05 in the Gold-color container. Avoid any "extended-life" antifreeze. None of us wants to pull and rebuild our cars' engines.
Acceptable brands are Peak, Peak's HD Product "Sierra," and Zerex Original Green in the WHITE container.
If any of the OAT, H-OAT, or N-OAT products are in your car the cooling system should promptly be drained--radiator and block-- the system flushed thoroughly, and IAT antifreeze installed. I am checking to see what's in my 37 Buick and 40 LaSalle. The Cord has none.
Eh! in the forties and fifties my Dad always used Prestone in all the cars & farm trucks & tractors. It worked for us! (But he didn't use tar in the crankcases).
Now, we all know it is standard practice to warm a motor up before draining the oil for a change, if some of your think it comes out like tar, by that theory then 90/140 gear oil is solid crude and will not flow at all which we all know is BS, So please don't exaggerate a common and normal self engine oil as though we should be building roads out of it.
My goodness, what a bunch of information! Well, here is my simple take, I use 10 W 30 oil, non detergent and 50/50 antifreeze with water wetter. Pretty simple hugh? and we go down to 10 below here in Cincy - sometimes colder, Ive never had a problem with boil over or ice up. And the oil - well, it seems to be perfect in my two t's and my two A's
Oh yea Jim, I forgot to mention, I vacation for several weeks at a time in Palm Beach, and you aint got nothin over on us as far as heat - mine never get hot and here in Cincy, we get 95-100 and very very high humidity - I actually like the better weather in florida during the summer! So 50/50 should be great for you and use Prestone!
In my freshly overhauled engine I use Mobile 1, 10w-30 and it rremains cleanand transparent for 500 miles and so far no added oil as I have no leaks....In the radiator, after the vineggar treatment and flushing I use 50/50 prestone as it is easy to carry and when I need to add to the radiator there is no problem with peercentages.....and my engine has never exceeded the halfway mark in the thermometer radiator cap, even when idling in 100 degree weather here in florida.....I give credit for this great performance to
Steve Ellis for a fantastic engine overhaul...And I removed the Impeller water pump before engine tear-down, as per John Regan and Steve....It is really great, not having to put an oil capturing tray under my engine...Rosie even bought me a 10x20 patio mat to park the T on to show off the lack of oil leaks..
Jack '25 Roadster-pick-up
Modern chemicals are significantly better than what was available "back in the day"
I'll stick with what I've been using.
50/50 antifreeze for freeze and rust protection along with low surface tension for better heat transfer. Not extended life stuff.
As for oil it is 10-30 in the summer and 5-20 in the winter.
I might not be an automotive engineer but I do have degrees in Mechanial and Ceramic Engineering with a little experience in autosports.
I understand what Aaron is saying -
When I lived in Corning NY it was next to impossible to shift my Alfa Romero in the winter until it got warm.
The oil in the transmission was like roofing tar.
It was so thick the car would not roll down the steep hill by itself.
Thank you for the lively discussion. I'm getting a lot out of this.
It appears that the consensus for the modern Model T owner for the cooling system mixture, is a 50-50 mixture of antifreeze that does not have OAT (organic additive Technology) in it. That one should avoid the extended life anti-freezes (with OAT) and use the older type anti-freeze formulas with IAT (Inorganic Additive Technology).
As for the oil, except for a few disagreements, the overall consensus seems to be that, for Model T's, 5w-30w detergent type oil is best to use in the winter and 10w-30w detergent type oil is best to use in the summer. John Rossi, a fellow Floridian recommended Mobil 1, 10w-30w, which is a synthetic oil, that I have used in my 300hp Nissan 300zx Twin Turbo with good results. Has anyone else used Mobil 1 in their Model T?
I will continue to watch for more opinions and responses. This is very helpful and I am learning a lot. Perhaps this will settle some longtime disagreements and be the go to thread for those seeking the best products for the two most crucial Model T systems. The cooling system and the lubrication system.
Thank you all for your help.
I used Mobil 1 in my Model T one year. It's pretty expensive. I did not notice any difference in performance compared to regular 5W-30.
The term "synthetic oil" is pretty hard to pin down these days. Any of the "ordinary" oils sold today is a carefully controlled product with a tremendous amount of engineering and manipulation of the oil base stocks during manufacture. Any of the major brands the oil will be plenty good enough to last until the next oil change.
The two biggest issues to consider with a Model T oil are:
1. That the oil gets dirty very quickly and must be replaced every 1000 miles, or every year
2. The oil neds to be thin enough to allow the engine to be started when cold.
If you want to use an exotic oil like Mobil 1 then it certainly is not going to hurt a Model T, but it's kind of like using Perrier to give your cocker spaniel a bath.
Thank you Royce. I think I have enough to make my decision on what to put in my Model T to bring 'er to life. 5w-30w Valvoline non-detergent oil and a 50-50 mixture of old formula antifreeze with IAT. Thank you all. I will be getting started on that tonight. Jim Patrick
Change your oil more like every 500 miles if you can... If it looks really clean at 500 miles, then maybe let it go a little longer.
It was 17deg.F here last night and my TT that is kept outside started on the third pull of the crank, and that is even counting the two turns of choking it first... I use regular 10w30 detergent oil...
I agree Royce. I like 5w-30 year round and have used expensive synth oils in my expensive cars, but the T is one place I do not mind using the standard "house brand" oil. It works fine and will not be in there for long enough to worry about the extended life qualities of synth oils.
I also strongly believe there is not just one correct answer to this question. We don't know how many "correct" answers there are, not counting the "good enough" answers. You just have to take stock of the info presented and do your own thinking.
Now we have at least 3 guys who use 10-30 or 5-30 NON-DETERGENT!!??? Where in h%^do they get it?
Non-detergent multi grades? I don't think so.
If they are using 10-30 non-detergent they really don't know what they are using.
90-140 gear oil is not like SAE 90 motor oil, it is more like SAE 30 motor oil.
In the first place I don't think there is 90-140, 75 or 80-140 yes. And it is thin enough to use in severe winter temps. 90-140 would leave you with the differential gears cut to nothing at -30F. I know, I've done it with 140 the first day I filled a car with 140 in the diff.
Just go and buy a Qt. of straight 140 and put in in the freezer for a day. Then try to pour it out. It won't.
All of which has nothing to do with motor oil but I have tried to pour straight 10 motor oil at -30F it would not pour out of the can. If you think 20-50 or straight 30 is good lubrication for a cold T engine then you have no idea what you are talking about.
Now show your ignorance and tell everybody how wrong I am.
Antifreeze is a coolint. and should be used a such, not just to stop freezing. It boils at a higher temp than water and being as a T uses thermosyphon system, it is much more efficent. Non detergent oil is OK on an original engine, but why gum up a new engine. using a lower viscosity grade such as 20w helps the splash oiling system to work better.
I've been using Prestone green antifreeze for years. How much longer do I have before all the gaskets deteriorate and the cooling system leaks and I have to overhaul the engines?
Does Prestone have an old formula for IAT and a new OAT formula for the tree huggers? If so, you may be in luck and have the old formula in your car... but now that I think about it, where are the plastic tubes and gaskets that would be exposed to and damaged by the OAT anti-freeze on a model T?? I can't think of any on my Model T, but if a Model T is equipped with a water pump with plastic seals, that is the only place I can imagine, where possible damage could be done by OAT. Jim Patrick
Jeeze this dosen't make sense anymore!
A model T is a horseless carrage
therefore it should be fed OATs
So why can't we put OATs in the radiator?
Maybe the OATs go in the crank case or gas tank!
Jim, I am not familiar with your Florida climate. I would mix my own antifreeze ratio. The ratio I would go for is the worst case scenario and drop the temp by another 10-15 degrees F. Personally I would not want to freeze and crack a block. With that said I might aim for a 20/80 ratio. Just remember if you choose to take the T up north on a tour, even in the summer your mix might be a little light.
I run 50/50 here in tropical Minnesota. I have no issues with corrosion or overheating.
The heat transfer efficiency does drop with more antifreeze, if you have a good radiator it should not be an issue. You will know if you are having an overheating issue, and if so then try adjusting the mix a little thinner.
Norman: I'm in your camp. Prestone ( and 30 wt. non-d oil). I'd guess I have about 3 1/2 minutes before the engine self destructs.
Aaron, someone been messing with your oil drums, 90 gear oil as thin as 30 motor oil? and you think 20/50 motor oil turns to tar! give us a break!!
Kerry, you have no doubt ever tried to pour a can of 20/50 that has been sitting outside on a -30F day into an engine.
I reread my previous post, I should have said 90 gear oil is the same as 40 motor oil not 30.
You go ahead and defie the advice of lubrication engineers and automotive engineers and use 30 in your engine and 140 in the diff. It doesn't bother me much but bet you won't leave it out at -30F all night and start and drive it the next day.
I've towed cars from snow covered roads to the bare concrete or blacktop roads with the rear wheels not turning at -30 so we could tow start it on the bare roads when the wheels could get traction to turn the engine over. That's 140 gear oil, not 75-140 or any other multi grade.
We would do that so the owner could drive to a service station and have them heat the rear end with a blow torch (usually 2) to get the stuff to run out.
You talk like somebody that has never worked around 30 below weather very long.
Going against those who have and the experts (engineers) and trying to make a fool out of them is stupid. Does that sound like you Kerry.
You can damn well bet you'll get very little advice from me on this forum from now on.
You can be the one to give the advice from now on since you know better.
Aaron, you read something into the post that was not there, Jim had asked for recommendations and options etc to work out what his options are for water and oil. Now you took "what works for me" as BS, with out fully reading or under standing what was posted by me, Jim had posted that he lives in Florida, I posted that It works for me because I do not freeze in winter, hot summers, so 5w is a oil I don't have to use or like to use, so Jim can ask himself, well I don't freeze in winter so maybe I can just use same grade oil all year round, it would be his choice, this is why he asked remember,
You put my oil choices in your climate, not me, I don't care what grade of oil or what water that is used at -30, it will be all frozen, my T is not there or is Jims, but if they were I'm sure your experience in those conditions would be invaluable.
I'm running Ginger Ale in my radiator, moonshine in the gas tank, Karo syrup in the differential and baby oil in the engine.
If you get stranded in the cold weather you can rub the baby oil on your body, drink a mixture of ginger ale and shine, and use the Karo syrup to satisfy your sweet tooth.
You'll be set for the whole winter.
CORRECTION. In my December 7, 11:11 summary, I said non-detergent, when I mean to say detergent type oil. I just purchased 4 Quarts of NAPA 5w-30w detergent type oil and a gallon of Peak, Zerex IAT (inorganic acid technology) antifreeze. Jim Patrick
I do use synthetic oil myself in modern engines, but not yet in the "T", but I thought i would mention that some engine manufacturers recommend NOT to use them in a new, or just overhauled, engine until it is broken in. This supposedly because the synthetic oil is slippery enough that it prevents or slows down the break in process of the piston rings.
I have wondered about the use of synthetic oils in the "T", as I wondered about the effect on the friction of the transmission bands. Apparently contributors to this forum have used it successfully.
As far as starting a cold engine and worrying about starving the bearings of oil, it is my opinion that if there was oil in the bearing at shut down, capillary action will keep that oil in the bearing, and when starting cold, that oil will have much higher film strength and most likely be more than adequate until fresh oil is supplied. That presumes that the operator will show some mercy on his/her equipment and not go racing right out of the cold start.
Got so nervous about my engine blowing up I sold the car.
Synthetic oil would work fine in a Model T, however it is very expensive and you would still need to change it often because there is no oil filter. Regular oil will work at least as good as it did when the Model T was new, and likely better, because today's oils have been much improved.
I spent half an hour at autozone trying to find some information on the packaging of the antifreeze.
I couldn't find anything that referred to IAT or OAT?
Is any GREEN antifreeze OK and it's the Orange stuff that we need to stay away from?
What am I looking for on the label?
The orange stuff is IAT antifreeze - trade name Dexcool for Texaco and General Motors.
There are two kinds of green antifreezes, either of which are fine in your car. The cheaper one is mostly ethylene glycol which is toxic. The more expensive one is mostly propylene glycol and is of low toxicity. Sierra is one of the low-tox brands.