If you were paying attention in your high school chemistry class (admittedly, this journalist was usually entrenched in car magazines hidden in his textbooks, but that’s a story for another day) then you know that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, or 100 degrees Celsius. In the context of an automobile engine and its cooling system, this fact can present a real problem, given the right circumstances.
The constant pressure in your cooling system, when operating correctly, will prevent the water (or water and antifreeze mixture) from boiling. But any loss of pressure will allow the water to heat up, boil, and create vapor — essentially air pockets — in the system. This process keeps the water from maintaining continual contact with the metal in your engine block and cylinder heads, allowing it to quickly heat up and could lead to overheating of the engine, cracked or warped cylinder heads, and other potentially terminal problems that nobody wants to have on their hands.
But what if your coolant didn’t boil at 212 degrees?
This is where waterless coolant comes in, and the leading manufacturer of such a product is Connecticut-based Evans Cooling Systems, which markets their high-performance waterless engine coolant at retailers and distributors across the country.
Designed for gasoline — modern and classic cars and muscle cars — and light- to medium-duty diesel engines, Evans Waterless Coolant is a unique blend of fluid that boils not at 212 degrees, but at 375, thus eliminating many of the common headaches that can occur with conventional water-based cooling methods. For instance, the boiling point of the coolant means there is less overall pressure in the system; Evans says there is a minute pressure increase due to coolant expansion, but nowhere near that of water alone, and so if you ever have to remove the radiator cap while the fluid is hot, it will merely spill a small amount, rather than release with force in your face. Of course, proper draining of the water and antifreeze that was in the system from the get-go is paramount, because any excess water (more than 3 percent) that remains is going to convert to a gas at 212 degrees and create vapor and thus, increase pressure in the system.
Stability additives are part of the coolant itself, meaning it will not ‘go bad’ as with typical coolant, and as such, it never has to be replaced. That said, one of the key properties of Evans’ coolant is that it will not corrode an engine, radiator, or cooling system plumbing, and can actually do so with up to 10 percent water added. That, however, does reduce it from a lifetime product to one that will need to be replaced inside of a few years. But, if you’re in a pinch and don’t have extra, Evans coolant can be mixed with as much as 60 percent water and allow your vehicle to continue normal operation, but be aware that you will lose many of the significant advantages that waterless coolant presents, and may have to flush the system entirely to gain back those benefits, depending on how much water was added.
Whether it’s your daily driver, your tow vehicle, or your street-strip warrior, there are a number of tangible reasons to go waterless — from reliability to engine life and cost….nevermind avoiding reaching your own boiling point in the event of an overheated engine at the track or on the side of the road.