Can you use RV antifreeze in a car?

The purpose of this article is to provide you with a response to the question: Can you use RV antifreeze in a car? People use RV Antifreeze in campers, RVs, or houseboats.

However, adding RV antifreeze to the car’s system is risky as it does not have anti-boiling properties. In addition, due to its antifreeze content, the engine may overheat and warp.

In this article, you will learn what antifreeze is, what happens after mixing RV and car antifreeze, and why you shouldn’t do it.

What is Car Antifreeze?

Antifreeze for automobiles is a blend of ethylene glycol or propylene glycol and other chemicals. Identifying the type of antifreeze used in an automobile is easy because of its color.What is Car Antifreeze

Antifreeze requirements for vehicles vary by manufacturer. If ingested in high amounts, automotive antifreeze can threaten human and animal life. However, you can use antifreeze in RVs in many ways, such as in the water tank, the plumbing, or as a means to melt ice.

RV antifreeze differs significantly from car antifreeze. It would be best not to mix or swap those components, as this may cause severe damage to your vehicle’s engine.

Antifreeze solutions can prevent ice from forming during cold weather. Motor homes and cars require different types of antifreeze for freezing protection, as they have different systems.

It’s common to see antifreeze in cars. However, the owner may need to replace the coolant after a certain period. Most vehicles require replacement after every two to three years.

Here is a quick guide on how to use these antifreeze products.

Add 50 percent antifreeze to the radiator tank and 50 percent water to the engine. People usually use water to mix with antifreeze, but ordinary water can cause corrosion over time, so it isn’t a good idea.

Car Antifreeze vs RV Antifreeze

You will need to use a different type of antifreeze for a motor home and a car with significantly different cooling systems. Avoid swapping or mixing the two types of antifreeze to preserve your car’s engine.

By the laws of physics, liquids expand violently when they freeze. The force of this expansion can severely damage RV plumbing systems and automobile cooling systems. However, you can use antifreeze solutions during cold weather to prevent damage.

What Is the Purpose of Using Antifreeze?

When an internal combustion engine is working, it generates heat that reduces performance. Among the various components of the cooling system are the hoses or pipes, heaters, a thermostat, temperature sensors, and electric fans.What Is the Purpose of Using Antifreeze

It is necessary to dissipate and regulate the heat generated by the engine. Therefore, every component of the cooling system must work effectively. Too high temperatures can damage gaskets, auto-detonation, and even engine failure.

Each vehicle manufacturer recommends a specific antifreeze-coolant that helps keep the engine cooling system working efficiently.

In the market you may find the following types

Anti Corrosive Coolant

A coolant contains additives that keep cooling systems from corroding. Anticorrosives vary in concentration. Thus, a higher concentration of anticorrosive can perform better to fulfill its function. In addition, the higher boiling point of this refrigerant prevents excessive heating, freezing, and formation of metal oxide.

Antifreeze Coolant

In cold climates, people use coolant antifreeze to prevent liquids from freezing. We can mention a few types of coolants that are antifreeze:

Organic Antifreeze

An antifreeze made from ethylene glycol and distilled or demineralized water protects different parts of the engine, such as radiators. In addition, the antifreeze will last longer, and it is biodegradable, hence less harmful.

They last longer, create less solid deposits in the cooling circuit and have a higher boiling point than conventional antifreeze.

Inorganic Antifreeze

It contains substances such as silicates, which degrade over time, accelerating corrosion and resulting in cooling system breakdowns. In addition, due to their low level of corrosion inhibitors and further additives, they are not as durable and have a brighter color.

Hybrid Antifreeze

This antifreeze uses inorganic and organic technology. This product contains ethylene glycol, limescale inhibitors, glycerine, and antifoam, as well as neutralizing agents.

In addition to protecting aluminum surfaces, these coatings can also incorporate silicates, as done by many car manufacturers. Do not mix antifreeze products to prevent a premature breakdown in the cooling system.

Read Also: What Happens When You Put The Wrong Engine Oil in Your Car

Can you use RV Antifreeze in A Car?

No, it is best if you avoid using RV antifreeze in a car. You should never put a car’s antifreeze in an RV as well. Antifreeze products for both types of vehicles aren’t the same.Can you use RV antifreeze in a car

We know that 90% of antifreeze is glycol, the other 10% include additives. As a carbohydrate, glycol plays a significant role in antifreeze protection.

The additives ensure protection against corrosion and lubricate the system. It is necessary to adapt each additive to the vehicle’s specific requirements.

Also, the manufacturers use different mixtures of rubber in their hoses and gaskets for cars and RVs. This is another reason you can use the antifreeze product for RVs in cars.

If there is a shortage of antifreeze in the system, cylinder head gaskets and cooling hoses may become irreparably damaged. In addition, adding the wrong antifreeze would lead to a complete breakdown of the engine. Luckily, because antifreeze comes in various colors, it is easy to distinguish them, so you do not make this expensive mistake.

If you’re in a hurry to top up your car’s antifreeze, take a quick look at the product’s color. It’s always best to select a product with the most popular color. For example, if most products are deep orange or yellow, you should choose a brand with that color.

Also, you shouldn’t mix products with different colors. As the additives react, they can irreparably damage the engine from inside.

The hoses and cylinder head gasket may be corroded after adding the wrong antifreeze to the car. If this occurs, the engine may fail.

Fortunately, they are all different colors, thus allowing easy identification, so you can easily follow the manufacturer’s advice.

What Happens After Mixing RV and Car Antifreeze?

The chemical composition of an RV antifreeze is different from car antifreeze. So, many people want to know what happens if they mix the two products.

The problem may worsen if you use RV antifreeze to top off your coolant. The chemical reaction between these two compounds might produce a gelatinous substance that cannot serve as a cooling agent.

Therefore, you must flush the engine immediately following the addition of RV antifreeze.

The mixture will create an unusable fluid which you should discard. So, if it ever happens in error, please do not attempt to manage it, thinking the products are the same thing.

Drive slowly if one is not accessible and check the temperature gauge frequently. Faulty cooling systems can lead to overheating in a matter of minutes.

Get To Know: Air Oil Separator vs. Catch-Can

How to Flush Antifreeze from Water Tank

RV antifreeze is poisonous, despite not being as toxic as engine coolant. Do not drink the water from your camper’s tank if it contains traces of antifreeze. After draining and flushing, the tank’s water will be safe for drinking. Also, the antifreeze residue will not cause any harm to the RV tank and pipes.How to Flush Antifreeze from Water Tank

If you add engine coolant by mistake, what happens? First, to avoid the possibility of poisoning someone, you will need to flush out the solution thoroughly. Then, repeat the process two times to ensure no trace of antifreeze remains.

Better yet, connect a garden hose to your RV’s water intake and flush through one of the open faucets. Next, dissolve the baking soda in a container and refill it with water. After a few hours, drain the solution and rinse thoroughly. Repeat this a few times until the tank is spotless. The antifreeze in engines is poisonous, so you should get a professional to help if you cannot flush the tank independently.

Many people rent motorhomes, and some users may pour RV antifreeze into the engine in error during an emergency. Indeed, the cooling system’s liquid will not freeze. Also, the chances of overheating are high, and it will damage the engine or cause warping.

Also Know: How To Check Fuel Pressure Without Gauge?

What is RV Antifreeze?

You can find the RV antifreeze on sale at RV dealerships, discount stores, and auto parts or hardware stores. It is usually a pink liquid made of propylene glycol or ethanol regarding physical appearance.what is RV Antifreeze

Propylene glycol antifreeze works best in RV plumbing systems. However, it leaves an unpleasant smell.

During the winter, if any water remains in the pipes, the pressure could cause them to crack. Allow the antifreeze liquid to flow into it after emptying everything. The water might become slushy at -50 degrees, but it will not freeze.

It’s important to remember that RV antifreeze is typically used alone, unlike automobile antifreeze which you may have to mix with additives. Therefore, it is easy to identify the product’s composition. Benzene, ethanol, or propylene are the primary ingredients in RV antifreeze.

It can reduce a liquid’s freezing point because of the ethanol-based antifreeze in it. In addition to preventing freezing, this product doesn’t raise the boiling point. Therefore, you should not use antifreeze to replace a coolant.

People Also Ask

1. Is RV antifreeze the same as car antifreeze?

Antifreeze for cars and RVs is not the same. There are vast differences between them. In cars, antifreeze maintains engine temperature. However, RV antifreeze has numerous applications, including preventing freezing in the plumbing system, water tanks, and emergency ice removal.

2. Is RV antifreeze reusable?

It is safe to reuse RV antifreeze since it is not harmful. Reusing the product means you can save money. However, if you choose to reuse your antifreeze, you should get the RV antifreeze out of the system and purify it, but don’t worry if you don’t get it all out because the liquid is non-toxic.

3. What is RV antifreeze good for?

Using RV antifreeze in the pipe system can prevent the bursting of the pipes caused by freezing during extreme weather. In the same way, you can also use it in your RV’s holding tank or septic system. By doing so, you will be able to avoid costly plumbing repairs.


If we read the label of the antifreeze bottle, it states that you should not mix it with water. You should only top up your antifreeze with the same product. For example, you should add yellow coolant to a vehicle that currently uses yellow coolant since the properties are similar. Ensure you add the correct antifreeze for each engine type as the vehicle manufacturer recommends.