Coolant is the liquid in a vehicle that absorbs heat from the engine as it operates and dissipates it through the radiator. The engine creates so much heat that left unchecked, it'll harm the rest of the vehicle and cease to work. That is why it is so important to maintain appropriate coolant levels. It is recommended coolant be replaced as it's quality and effectiveness decreases overtime.
Another name for car coolant is antifreeze, and as the name implies, coolant becomes vitally important in vehicles that are driven in cold climates. Coolant is a careful balance of 50% water and 50% alcohol. It isn't recommended you put water as a replacement for your coolant, it can rust internal components and cause damage to your engine. If you live in a cold area and have more than 50% water in your coolant mixture, it is liable to freeze and damage your vehicle.
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