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What is an Antifreeze Tester?

By S. Gonzales
Updated May 16, 2024
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An antifreeze tester is a small, portable device that helps in the checking of antifreeze and coolant. It's normally used by automotive owners to determine the freeze point of their vehicle's antifreeze. In winter months, it may warn a motorist of an impending freeze; in summer, it may warn of boiling points.

This tool is ideal for individuals interested in automotive and "do-it-yourself" activities. It provides a simple and efficient alternative to taking a vehicle to an automotive repair shop or another type of service shop. Motorists can simply reach for this relatively cheap device, apply it and retrieve the information for themselves.

Each brand of antifreeze tester device can work in a different way. Some devices use floating balls to help advise vehicle owners of freeze points and may employ numbers and dots to help deliver the desired information. Discs, built-in magnification tools, readability in both Celsius and Fahrenheit and clear, plastic barrels can all make the use of an antifreeze tester as easy as possible. Features like tail length and bulb durability may also vary between brands. Each brand of device can usually work in either hot or cold fluids, however, and can check fluids directly in coolant overflow systems or radiators.

When determining what sort of antifreeze tester is appropriate to purchase, one should first check to see if there are any restrictions on the device in terms of antifreeze or coolant type. Some devices may only be able to check certain types of antifreeze or coolant like those that are propylene glycol-based. If a motorist uses an antifreeze type that can be described as ethylene glycol-based, he or she will have to look for a device capable of testing that sort of antifreeze.

The ideal antifreeze tester provides quick and accurate cooling and boiling point results. In addition, an antifreeze tester may be able to do other things like test for rust or sediment buildup or deposits. They may also give insight into the efficiency of the cooling liquid; for example, it can tell motorists if their vehicles are actually being overprotected by a solution of antifreeze that is too potent. For those who simply do not want the hassle of having to find an antifreeze tester that is compatible with a specific antifreeze solution, purchasing a refractometer may be a viable alternative. Refractometers are universal and work with every type of antifreeze; they can also help in determining the viability of battery acid and windshield washer fluid.

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Discussion Comments
By panda2006 — On Dec 26, 2010

@DentalFloss, I didn't know these existed either, though I think that is because I know so little about automotive things in the first place. I can see why it would be handy to have an antifreeze coolant tester, though, if you live somewhere cold or even if you just travel a lot by car. If that ever is something I do, I will be getting one of these.

By DentalFloss — On Dec 24, 2010

@sapphire12, I can imagine why it would be a good idea. Having spent most of my life in Maryland and then Ohio, I hadn't even heard of these before. I suppose they are not seen to be as necessary, and so are not as customary, in this part of the world.

By sapphire12 — On Dec 22, 2010

I have heard that having antifreeze testers is almost a necessity in cold weather areas such as the northern United States, especially states like Minnesota. When antifreeze is needed for an average of four months a year, if not more, going to a mechanic every time you're worried about your antifreeze is just not an option.

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