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Old 04-25-2021, 05:49 PM   #1
Upstate Saturn
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Default Mixing orange and green antifreeze

I remember reading on here one time that although the orange antifreeze is what the S-Series came with from the factory, for some reason I don't recall, the general consensus here was that the green antifreeze was better for the car, and also that the two shouldn't be mixed.

I recently got a low coolant light (I suspect a slow heater core leak), so although the existing coolant is orange, I went ahead and topped it off with the green antifreeze I had on hand, figuring mixing coolants would be better than being low.

I probably added a couple of inches to the reservoir, and it hasn't lost anymore over the few days since I topped it off.

Have I mis-remembered what I read here a few years ago about coolant? Since I added such a small amount of green into the existing orange, is there any action I need to take? The next time my mechanic changes the oil, should I have him change the coolant to green?

And just as general maintenance, how often does the coolant need to be changed?
...
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Old 04-25-2021, 06:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

Orange usually means Dexcool which has to be changed out every 3-4 years or it gunks up the cooling system something fierce. Dexcool was (is?) used on every GM vehicle and overall it's about as awesome as GM batteries.

Green and yellow coolants are generally universal coolants and can be safely mixed with other coolants. If you were working on something newer that has it's own $$$$ special coolant I'd worry about incompatibility but the S-Series is from the golden era where there wasn't anything special about any of the fluids used.
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Old 04-25-2021, 08:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

Well, it's time to flush your system out now.

Mixing green and orange coolant is a bad idea. It's one of the things that is supposed to gum up the system. It would have been much better to be a little low on coolant, or use water than to add green coolant.

As long as the car has enough to cool, being a little low is not a big deal.

Adding a little water is no big deal as long as you are aware of it, and won't see temperatures that fall below the new freezing point. The coolant won't freeze, won't boil over, and you'll still have corrosion protection. After adding water, the next time you are a little low, just add straight coolant and you'll be back to normal.

Now, there is nothing you can do with your green and orange mix except flush it out, and replace it all.
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Old 04-26-2021, 06:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

My 2004 Suburban and the 2011 Avalanche have had orange Dexcool in their systems since day one.....never changed the coolant, never flushed either one. Have only had to add a few sips of coolant in all these years....and both are in the 200K mileage range. No loss of heat from the non-gunked up systems.....
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Old 04-26-2021, 09:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
My 2004 Suburban and the 2011 Avalanche have had orange Dexcool in their systems since day one.....never changed the coolant, never flushed either one. Have only had to add a few sips of coolant in all these years....and both are in the 200K mileage range. No loss of heat from the non-gunked up systems.....
Our '05 Ascender has had no issues with the Dexcool. Must be a freak build or something.




But I'd agree with the comment that if Dex was mixed with something else, better to flush it and pick what you want from there. Some coolants just don't play well together, and when in doubt it's cheaper to flush than to risk a long term possible issue.
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

I've been running the Zerex G05 very long-life yellow coolant for 20 years in my S-series for 15+ years, zero problems. Original radiator even. No more Dexcool scum buildup in the expansion tank.

You can get it full-strength. IIRC, you put in 1 gal of full strength and 3 liters or so of distilled water and you get some better boilover protection.
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

My car ran the same DexCool for at least 60K miles (17 years!) before I flushed it. May have been original but I'm guessing Saturn would have flushed it as a maintenance item before selling the car used in 2000. While I definitely don't recommend running any type of coolant that long, it never caused a problem. Switched over to conventional green since I knew it would probably be coming out again soon anyway. DexCool doesn't deserve all the hate it seems to get imo
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

Yeah, add me to the list of those that have had no problem with Dexcool.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

Now you all have me curious, since the green is supposed to be compatible (today) with orange (not mixed, of course), can I switch mine from orange to green? I want to replace my thermostat and possibly temp sensor, so I need to drain most of it anyway.
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Old 04-29-2021, 11:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

I like green antifreeze. I swapped my '99 over years ago. This is what it looked like after a bunch of years/miles when we rebuilt it:


When I got the '98 I did a few flush and fills with water and then put the green stuff in there.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...=234273&page=3

Here is the progression as I drained it and filled it with water.







...
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Old 04-29-2021, 11:53 PM   #11
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

It doesn't really matter what kind of coolant you use as long as you don't mix it with anything but other coolant of the same type, or distilled water


Mine had pretty much reached full brown by the time I flushed it, lol
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Old 04-30-2021, 12:45 AM   #12
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

I make life simple for myself and use a long life universal/ global antifreeze. Says on the bottle, can be mixed with any other antifreeze.

The Prestone I usually get is good for 100k miles or 5 years. Occassionally I get the Peak on sale, says 150k miles or 5 years. Usually, something breaks or leaks out before I have to change antifreeze

decent article on colors
https://www.hemmings.com/stories/201...-of-antifreeze

the color is added dye, as ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are colorless. Wide range of colors available for purchase
http://www.chromatechcolors.com/indu...-coolant-dyes/
...
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Old 05-01-2021, 04:35 PM   #13
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

Most experiences with coolants tend to be anecdotal. I've seen unmaintained Dexcool systems that had no problem and others with rust/sludge. The attached are images of a system I've been asked to look at due to lack of heat. Less than a year ago, the Dexcool looked perfectly normal.

OP, no one will be able to tell you if there was enough mixing to cause a problem. You would just have to keep an eye on it. The various answers you receive will be based on source/experience, but it is not a good idea to mix different formulations of IAT, OAT, HOAT. Some manufacturers like Valvoline state as much in their literature.

If the system has not been maintained, it may be due for a change anyway.
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Old 05-01-2021, 09:47 PM   #14
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

Circa 2008 a number of Chevy Pickup/Suburban driver-maintainers were
polled in online forum -- none/few had any problems with Dexcool (pink)
which was new OEM fill. Typically the radiator tubes were completely clean,
lacking the yellow tube-end deposits then characteristic of legacy green/yellow Prestone antifreeze.

However, there were some stories with other vehicles. This was thought to be a result of air in the coolant, as from running with low coolant levels.

Circa 2010 on this forum, an engineer with experience in analysis/design
of auto cooling systems, including Saturn, had discussion with OldNuc.
This visiting engineer described in no uncertain terms, that with time, the
Dexcool develops an organic chemical acid which deteriorates the Saturn headgasket material.

It is OK to mix different green/pink IFF they so specify.

It is always Bad Practice to ignore coolant maintenance, which involves
Drain, Flush with purified water (DI/distilled/RO) then after drain, fill with one gallon green Prestone, top off with purified water at least every 5 years or 100,000 miles.

My 2000 car came with new radiator. The original pink Dexcool ramained in the block (not drained), green had been added to topoff. It tended to overheat/overflow.
I drained the coolant(noting that pink came later in stream). I had to do a 5-minute Flush with distilled water 4 or 5 times to get rid of the pink Dexcool
tinge. Then after final fill, No overheat/overflow.

There remains a deposit of crud on the street where some of the dregs of old coolant were... nasty stuff. In plant HVAC and large I.C. engine coolant systems, several parameters are monitored, and pH is a key indicator. I was advised by an Operating Engineer who ran the engine room on a few seagoing oil tankers from ca 1945-1952, that cooling system monitoring/maintenance was considered a significant task ... and that once it was Right, it was left alone.

Last edited by TomM96; 05-01-2021 at 09:51 PM. Reason: fergat un
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:45 PM   #15
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

^^ So, you are saying that since the PINK came later in the stream, you are then indicating that the pink and green were NOT compatible and did not blend together but remained as separate coolants within the system?

Doubtful in my opinion.
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Old 05-02-2021, 07:53 AM   #16
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Default Re: Mixing orange and green antifreeze

>...you are saying that since the PINK came later in the stream, you are then indicating that the pink and green were NOT compatible and did not blend...

As regards compatibility, I defer to manufacturer recommendations, which I
assume may not apply to product produced years ago.
....

After some overflow events suggested there might be an issue with the
coolant (which I naively assumed had been serviced when the new radiator
was installed by the used car dealer), i decided to drain&flush coolant.

I had previously topped off the expansion tank at the dealership prior
purchase ... the color of the fluid in the tank was an impressive green,
which suggested (and deluded me) that the fluid was serviced at radiator install, if not before. The 'water'(coolant) pump fitted is also aftermarket,
a $12 Chinese mfgd special, which also suggested the coolant would be OK.
The pump appears to work ... the deaeration tube establishes flow into the expansion tank.

When I finally drained the coolant, it initially seemed unremarkable. By
the second flush (I was expecting colorless flushing water to drain) I noticed
a pattern: toward the end of the drain stream, the flow became pink. I happen to have some (red-green) colorblindness, and pink is the Last color
my eyes sense.

I think i performed 5 full 'drain-fill-run-5-minutes' (repeat) cycles. The last
two had greyish translucent water drain, until a pinkish trend emerged at the end.

I do believe that both coolants mix and function together. My analysis
suggests to me that the block may never have been robustly flushed ...
that some legacy Dexcool coated the innards of the lower block. I was very concerned that the head gasket would be degraded. I think the coloration was possibly a surface effect of long duration, but I dunno!

I have some lingering concerns over the efficiency of the water pump, but
the temperature gage gives no bad indications.
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