How Long Does It Take Antifreeze To Circulate?

If I pour antifreeze in my car, how long does it take antifreeze to circulate and how quickly can I start my car afterwards? Answers to questions like this coming up in the blog below!

Antifreeze can circulate for about 20 to 30 minutes through the engine block system and radiator hoses. Antifreeze is an additive added to a coolant to lower the freezing temperature of the water-based liquid. 

Coolants effectively take away the heat from the engine to maintain an appropriate working temperature. To know what effects coolants and the time for circulation, you need to start from the basics. Let’s jump into the facts to learn a bit more about your car and its needs without meandering. 


How Long Does It Take Antifreeze To Circulate


What is Antifreeze?

First and foremost, you should know what exactly Antifreeze is.

Antifreeze is an additive that lowers the freezing point of a water-based liquid. It is a mixture of water and either ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. Antifreeze is an in-demand fluid that runs the automotive industry. Without a coolant, your engine is not efficient enough.

One needs to have their facts clear about things like coolant, radiator, thermostat as they could contribute to our daily used cars. Everyone, including you, put coolants like Antifreeze into the car’s radiator to help regulate engine temperature and prevent corrosion by maintaining proper fluid levels.

What is antifreeze made of?

Antifreeze, a coolant and lubricating agent, needs appropriate proportions of various components such as ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, methyl ether, glycerol, and others. 

Water has also been proved to be an adequate coolant due to its capability of conducting water effectively. The only valuable property of water as a coolant is that it can easily take away heat from your car’s engine, and Glycol-based coolants are thus preferred over water.

Most coolants are made up of three constituents: water, additives, and a base product. The base products that are most used are ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. 

Propylene glycol has negligible toxic properties and thus could be used in any system, including cars, food processing units or water distribution pipelines. 

Another alternative for propylene glycol is propylene glycol methyl ether which is extensively used in diesel cars due to its non-volatile nature. 


How Long Does It Take Antifreeze To Circulate


Uses of Antifreeze

Antifreeze is used mainly for two purposes. They are:

  • Antifreeze lowers the freezing point of water-based coolants, thus increasing the efficiency of the coolant.
  • It helps lubricate the parts of car engine pipes and radiator, thus preventing corrosion.

How Does Antifreeze Work?

Antifreeze is loaded in a reservoir beside the radiator of the engine. The reservoir leads to other engine systems and other components of the same. The Antifreeze reservoir is associated with a cooling system as a whole of the car.

A pump circulates Antifreeze and water. The circulating substances such as Antifreeze and water conducts heat, thus taking the heat away from the engine system. Along with Antifreeze, few other components work to maintain the engine’s temperature.


For example, the thermostat is an essential part of the system, and it is a valve fixed between the radiator and the engine block. Whenever the circulating fluid temperature rises too high, the valve opens, letting the fluid flow into the radiator, where it gets to the average temperature. 

The thermostat valve would remain closed until the circulating fluid reaches a specific high temperature, letting the fluid circulate to take away the heat from the engine block system. 


Now, a question may arise: How does the radiator help the liquid cool down. Well, it is a fan that is present in the engine block that forces the air to flow across the fluid present in the radiator. 

Both the thermostat and the fan are essential for efficient cooling of the engine and proper functioning of the coolants that are Antifreeze and water. 




When the car is moving, that is when the engine is at work, it would eventually get hot in the absence of circulating coolant. So, to avoid heating the engine, the coolant is continuously circulated through the engine block. 

The fluid circulates through a chain of pipes fixed to the radiator, and it moves to the radiator once the liquid gets heated up, passing by the thermostat. 

After it is cooled in the radiator, the fluid flows out of the radiator and goes into the water pumping system, from where it is pumped into the block, where it absorbs excess heat generated by the engine. The cycle is continued till the car is in working mode. 

Why and When Do You Need To Change AntiFreeze?

A car’s engine needs several fluids such as engine oil, power steering fluid, a coolant such as Antifreeze etc. All of these fluids need to be regularly checked and changed. For coolant, you must check the Antifreeze level and add it whenever required. 

The specific instructions on when to change Antifreeze and how much Antifreeze should be added are present in your car’s manual. It would be best to give that manual a read before changing your Antifreeze. The process of changing Antifreeze is also explained in the manual. 

High mileage cars need special Antifreeze to sustain the large number of miles a car runs for a particular time. 

Roughly, you need to change the Antifreeze after 50,000 miles of driving. Some new models that provide better mileage need a change of Antifreeze every 10,000 miles of driving. 

Overused coolant or a wrong coolant might cause the radiator to fail by generating corrosion. Overused coolant will lose the capacity to conduct heat away from the engine, thus negatively affecting the engine. 



How Long Does It Take For Coolant To Go Through The System? 

It depends on the car model, and it might take 20-30 minutes which may vary with atmospheric temperature and condition of the car. 

How Long Does It Take Antifreeze To Circulate? 

Antifreeze works in the same way as coolant, the only difference being that coolant has more water mixed in it. Therefore, it would take about the same time as coolant, ie, 20-30 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. How do I know if my coolant is circulating?

You would know by checking the temperature of the radiator fluid, and you can quickly insert a finger to check or use a thermometer.

#2. Does coolant circulate all the time? 

Yes, It circulates whenever the car is on the go, and the circulation stops as soon as the engine stops. 

#3. How long does it take for coolant to get from reservoir to radiator? 

It might take 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the model and condition of the car. 



A Few Final Words

The time duration of circulating Antifreeze depends on a few factors, such as the car model and its condition. Environmental temperature also influences time, and it takes longer to circulate in winter than in hot summer afternoons. 

We hope this article was able to shed light on the working of antifreeze in the car, what all you need to take care of and how long it takes for antifreeze to work properly. You can ask us more questions if we have missed out on any details.

You might also like to read: What Does Antifreeze Smell Like? And Can You Mix Dex-cool And Universal Antifreeze?

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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