I'm getting ready to get my '26 touring on the road for the season and am wondering what is the maximum anti-freeze mix I can run in the car. It seems everyone agrees that a 50/50 mix works just fine and protects down to -34. But my car doesn't have the luxury of a heated garage in winter (or any other season for that matter). Now -34 might seem plenty for most folks, but I have seen -44 around here. So I am wondering if there's a consensus if I can run a 60/40 mix of antifreeze to water without raising the specific cooling capacity of the coolant too high, and does that affect the ability of the system to thermo-syphon. Also, how about adding some product like Water Wetter to the mix? Ideas/ Experience?
The obvious answer is that you need to move. LOL -44? Yup, definitely need to move.
Cold weather is character building! Maybe that's the reason why most of us up here are real characters. Just ask Mike G. he will confirm that.
From the manufacturer of one product:
70/30 protects down to -62 degrees F
and in another place on that site, 70/30 protects to: -84 degrees F
Sure wish that I could understand the copywriters -
Bob C., they need you!
I never run more than 50/50 but I've only lived in the more balmy southern part of WI my whole life. 60/40 is ok. I would use the same mix as you have in your modern car.
You need what you need period. If you're driving around at -44 degrees the system needs protection. Besides I kind of doubt you'll overheat because of poor heat conduction at that temp. Seriously: Read the labels and use a mix that will prevent freezing in the system. I'm assuming you don't want to swap out coolant twice a year so give a 60/40 mix a shot. You can always save it for winter or thin it out.
An easy solution is to drain the coolant in the fall and then pour it back in the next spring.
I'm in Minneapolis and I run only water in my system and drain it in the fall.
Some of the horseless carriage guys I know in the area prefer not to use anti-freeze in their early brass cars. They run water during the touring season, drain it in the fall and then fill it with 50/50 and drain it again prior to long term winter storage.
In the winter an unheated detached garage can be warmer than the outside temperature. The concrete slab acts as a radiator and the garage as an envelope. During the day, the sun raises the interior temperature.
Tap water has all kinds of lime and crusty crud in it that can gunk up the inside of your cooling system and of course, it provides absolutely no freezing protection, so that probably isn't the ideal coolant.
Distilled water is free of dissolved solids, but it causes metal to rust much faster than tap water and it doesn't prevent freezing any better than tap water.
A hefty dose of water-soluable, machinist's oil in distilled water will help prevent rust from forming in your engine and cooling system, but provides practically no protection against freezing, so you'd have to drain if off in preparation for winter storage (and I think it's safe to assume most folks in Wisconsin don't drive their Model T Fords during the winter).
A 50:50 mix of good-brand antifreeze fights corrosion, cools nicely and of course, normally prevents freezing—within reason. While there's nothing normal or reasonable about a Wisconsin winter, the chart on the back of the gallon container of Prestone will recommend the appropriate ratio of antifreeze to water for your more critical winter situation. Here's a chart I found on the internet:
But even if you don't trust a 70:30 mix of antifreeze/distilled water to protect your system from freezing, there's nothing to stop you from draining your car's cooling system at the end of the driving season, storing the coolant somewhere warm and then, after the spring thaw, pouring the stuff back into your radiator.
I used to be a water pump engineer in the automotive industry. Mixing coolant beyond 70% doesn't provide enough water to activate the catalists in the antifreeze. This is why you should never run 100% coolant. The antifreeze depends on X amount of H2o for some of the additives. It also delutes some of the abrasives (silicate salts).
Yanmar use a thermosyphon cooling system and they specifically state that if you go over 25% antifreeze the cooling is impaired. The same applies to a Model T.
If that's true about 70% of us would be cooking.
50/50 in everything and always will.
I used to use plain water in some of my tractors but didn't like seeing rusty water every Fall so I knew what was happening internally in the off seasons.
Nigel is right. The more antifreeze you add to water, the less the coolant is able to pickup and release heat. (Thermal Transfer) So the engine runs hotter because the coolant is less efficient. Plain water has the best thermal transfer ability. Anything you add to it reduces the thermal transfer capabilities. The more you add, the worse it gets. You shouldn't add more than is necessary to protect the system in YOUR climate area.
I used to run 50/50 in all my cars but I now live in Florida and have no need of antifreeze.. I do however need something to prevent rust so I use a rust inhibiting additive in the water and have had good results . I don't use any specific brand and have found that they all seem to do the job but Prestone makes one that seems to be the easiest to find. I replace it every year as I still like to flush out my radiators before it gets too hot down here. I am not sure you need to do that and do not remember if there is a manufacturers suggested time limit on its effectiveness but I do recall that antifreeze used to have a limited life in that regard.
Kevin, I've always used 50/50. I've never had a cracked block, or busted radiator. I ran that way when I lived in Grand Rapids, I mixed it that way down by sunny Albert Lea and I run 50/50 now. I don't drain in the fall, I check the level in the spring. If you would feel safer with a 60/40 mix, go for it. The difference in price isn't bad especially when it comes time to replace a block and you'll sleep better for it.
To clarify what I said earlier. I think there are 3 issues at stake, cooling, frost protection and corrosion protection. I was referring to the best ratio for the maximum cooling effectiveness yet retaining a degree of frost and corrosion protection. I recognise this ratio does not give the desired requirements for frost and corrosion protection in some area.
I think I'm going to go with a 55/45 antifreeze/water mix with a water wetter product. That gives me freeze protection down to around -46 and shouldn't impair heat transfer. If it gets colder than that, I'll crawl under it and drain out the anti-freeze...then head for southern AZ.
When it gets colder than the antifreeze mix is "rated" for, it will start to gel up, then get thicker and thicker as the temp drops. It takes a LOT of cold for a 50-50 mix to solidify and expand enough to break things. I would trust 50-50 down to at least -50ºF.
Just remember that the manufacturers charts always err on the side of caution, to protect themselves.
After reading this I am going to use a 69/29/2 mixture while I am in my T.
All I need to do is figure out what I am mixing
I'm running 50/50 (ish) antifreeze to water. I've noticed my drain petcock is dripping, so I top it off with water. When I get a chance to fix it, I'll change it out. Until this fall, I'm not worried about the water freezing overnight or anything like that.
This winter I'm going to make sure she's full of 50/50, since she's most likely not going to be in a heated garage. I think the real question is do you want to run the car during the cold season? If not, just drain it. If so, go by what your chosen brand of antifreeze recommends.
Its better to keep the system filled with anti freeze / water mixture at all times. If you drain the system it corrodes quickly because there is no corrosion protection.
50/50 with distilled water. If temp gets lower, a small electric heater or drain the system. Doubt if your driving around much at -44F.
You can easily find a magnetic crankcase heater. That will solve your problems with the least hassle.