17 Waterless Coolant Pros and Cons

The traditional coolant used for keeping engines at their proper temperature contains 50% water. Even when you purchase antifreeze for your vehicle, most manufacturers encourage you to cut the coolant in half with water. Any coolant option which contains water promotes overheating and may contribute to premature engine corrosion. That is why waterless coolant is an alternative to consider for any vehicle.

Evans Waterless Coolant is one example of this product option. Instead of containing water, it offers a glycol-based fluid that reduces (or eliminates) the problems seen in water-based cooling systems. You’ll receive the same heat transfer qualities found in other coolant options, but with additional advantages which improve the reliability of the engine.

Regular use may even extend the life of your engine.

If you’re thinking about a transition from traditional antifreeze or coolant to this product option, then here are the critical waterless coolant pros and cons to review.

List of the Pros of Waterless Coolant

1. There is a safety component to waterless coolant not found in other options.
The waterless coolant manufactured by Evans is based on propylene glycol. Traditional antifreeze or coolant products use ethylene glycol instead. That limits the toxicity which comes with exposure to the product. Propylene glycol is used as a sweetener in many products, including medications. No harm is done if the product is accidentally ingested. When a vehicle leaks ethylene glycol, the results are very different, as it is poisonous to pets, small animals, and even children.

2. You receive a superior form of engine protection.
Water changes its characteristics when exposed to a high enough temperature. If your engine runs hot, above 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the water in your system begins boiling. Bubbles form next to the cylinder liners, flexing from the side thrusts provided by the pistons. If those bubbles implode, the coolant will impact the liner wall with enough force to eventually compromise the system. That causes the coolant to get into your oil sump and foul the system.

Instead of relying on unknown supplemental additives to stop this process, there is no water to vaporize in the waterless coolant. That prevents voids and corrosion, promoting longer and healthier engine life in every vehicle.

3. It provides a superior level of temperature protection for the engine.
Vehicles in almost every climate benefit from the use of waterless coolant. The traditional antifreeze or coolant formulation protects to about -34°F. You then have a boiling point at 250°F when the pressure cap is placed correctly. If you’re using a 50/50 coolant, then your temperature maximum is 263°F.

When you make the switch to a waterless coolant, your boiling temperature rises to 375°F without the need for pressurization. That provides you with a better safety margin during engine operations. This product won’t freeze even when temperatures drop below -40°F either.

4. There isn’t the threat of water-scale buildup within the system.
Even when you use distilled water with your traditional antifreeze or coolant, there is still a threat of scale-forming to consider with your engine. Waterless coolant eliminates that threat entirely because you’re using propylene glycol for your cooling needs instead. This product works fine at 2 PSI or less in most circumstances too (though some manufacturer’s instructions do vary), which means you’re not stuck with the 15 PSI radiator cap for performance. There are no localized hot spots or boil-off concerns, which means you receive a cleaner operations profile.

5. It is a proven product with a history of success.
Evans has manufactured their waterless coolant for more than 20 years, offering vehicle owners access to all the advantages of their product. The extended protections offered to engines are proven to work. You eliminate the expansion of water as it cools, and its vaporization when heated. The threat of an engine block cracking disappears completely.

6. Waterless coolant doesn’t erode like traditional products.
Because of its higher boiling point, a waterless coolant remains in liquid form instead of vaporizing. That means you have fewer cooling system losses over time while preventing the issue of pitting. The hygroscopic nature of waterless coolant also means that any water trapped in the system will be absorbed into the fluid, giving you another layer of protection against internal corrosion.

7. Vehicles may warm up faster when using a waterless coolant.
If you get tired of waiting for the heater to kick-in during the cold winter months, then a switch to waterless coolant may offer another benefit. Your vehicle warms up faster, which gives you more heat to use in the cab when the weather turns. For owners living in cold weather environments, this benefit may increase their fuel efficiency rating by up to a half-mile per gallon.

Although warm weather drivers often see a drag on their fuel efficiency because of the added heat, any location which experiences seasonal weather changes should balance itself out over time.

List of the Cons of Waterless Coolant

1. The cost of the waterless coolant is much higher.
If you were to use a standard coolant or antifreeze in your vehicle, then the product cost would be around $20 per gallon. The cost of the waterless coolant from Evans, which is the primary supplier of this option, is about $40 per gallon. If you’re using a big-bore diesel engine with your truck, semi-trailer, or another large vehicle, the difference in price for your coolant needs may be $400+ if you choose the waterless option.

2. There are availability concerns to think about with waterless coolant.
If a slow leak occurs with your vehicle, then you can make it home easy enough before repairing the issue. Just stop at any store, purchase replacement coolant, then make sure your reserves never get too low. That option disappears for you when using waterless coolant. Availability is not as widespread as traditional antifreeze or coolant options because only authorized service providers have the product. Adding water eliminates the benefits of going waterless too.

That means you must stock up on the product when you make the conversion to the waterless coolant. If you use it in your everyday vehicle, then you’ll need to carry some with you at all times. Without plenty of extra, you’ll find the recovery costs of popping a hose can become an unpleasant surprise.

3. Heat isn’t moved as effectively with waterless coolant.
Even Evans Waterless Coolant offers a lower specific heat rating, which means a water-based product will create a faster result in comparison. Compared to water, the specific heat capacity falls into a range between 0.6 to 0.7. That’s why the traditional coolant technologies have been around for so long. The coolant creates a higher boiling temperature for the water, providing you with a layer of protection which is adequate unless the vehicle overheats. Some vehicles run cooler with a waterless coolant, especially if they are equipped with a high-performance engine. Others do not.

4. Engines typically run hotter at the cylinder heads.
Although the overall process creates a cooler engine for many vehicle owners, using a waterless coolant does make an engine run hotter at the cylinder heads. For a high-performance engine, the issue could change conditions by over 100°F. The stabilized coolant temperatures are increased by at least 30°F when the conversion takes place as well when compared to a 50/50 or traditional coolant. You’re also faced with an inhibitor disposition on aluminum surfaces, which may be problematic for some radiators.

5. There is a conversion cost to consider with going waterless.
If your vehicle has not received coolant as of yet, then the cost of a waterless coolant is only the product expense. When you’re converting from a traditional coolant, however, then your system must be purged. Over 97% of the original coolant must be removed from the system for the waterless coolant to be sufficient. If you do not achieve that rate of success, then you lose the corrosion-resistance benefit. The cost of purging the system varies per location, but it typically falls into a range between $250 to $400.

6. Waterless coolant may reduce your horsepower rating.
When a full conversion to waterless coolant occurs, owners notice a small dip in the horsepower possible from their engine. Some high-performance engines see a drop of 5% or more. At the same time, the fuel octane requirement for the engine increases by up to 7 points, which further reduces performance if a shift in gasoline quality does not happen. The hidden costs of these issues to correct them further increases the overall expense of switching from a water-cooled system to this product.

7. It will absorb water when allowed to sit out in the open.
When you use a waterless coolant, it is essential to remember that the product is hygroscopic. That means it offers the capability of absorbing moisture from the surrounding environment. It will even pull water from the air if you allow it to sit outside. Most cooling systems do not have air exposure concerns, so the absorbing nature of the fluid is not an issue within the vehicle. If you’re performing maintenance on your cooling system, however, then you’ll need to place the fluid in a tightly-closed container to prevent it from being corrupted.

8. There are flammability concerns in high-performance settings.
“Only dealt with that stuff one time,” is an observation written on a tech talk forum about waterless coolant. “Guy dumped it on the starting line and made a full pass that was a 3-hour clean-up. Worst stuff I have ever cleaned and extremely slippery.” There are also flammability issues reported with waterless coolant when exposed to high-heat situations on racetracks and other high-performance areas. Although reviews on this potential disadvantage are mixed, the issue should be approached with caution at the very least.

9. The fan on your vehicle may start operating continuously.
Because waterless coolant changes the temperature profile of your vehicle, some owners may find that their fan triggers on continuously because of the heat at the engine. Although the waterless coolant provides better protection, you may need to reprogram the temperature settings of your fan to prevent this issue. Some owners may also change their engine timing to prevent knocking after a switch to this product and look at the specs of their water pump since the viscosity of waterless coolant is a little different.

10. You may be forced to purchase by mail.
Even though you can find waterless coolant products online, only authorized dealers are permitted to sell the product for Evans (and similar rules apply to other manufacturers). If you purchase your product from a retailer who is not authorized, including online companies, then the warranty coverage offered by the product does not apply.

Most vehicle owners will find that an authorized dealer is within 50 miles of their location. The only exception to this rule is for rural owners. Even then, driving that distance just to purchase waterless coolant creates an unnecessary expense for some owners.

The pros and cons of waterless coolant offer vehicle owners an alternative to a water-based product. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of traditional antifreeze or coolant, Evans and other manufacturers offer an alternative worth considering. You may be able to achieve similar results with distilled or purified water and soluble oil, but it is imperative that you also follow the instructions or advice given by your engine manufacturer.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.