coolant ph adjustment?

Discussion in 'Universal Autosports' started by f1karting, Dec 10, 2009.

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  1. f1karting

    f1karting Karting

    Jul 19, 2006
    242
    BC Canada
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    Jan H
    Curious as to the best way to balance the ph of coolant?

    In my case, I start using local bottled water (RO filtered) and add Water Wetter along with perhaps 10-20% AF.

    What I find with the test strips, is that the coolant often shows as too acidic. I have tried mixing sodium bicarb to balance up to about 6.5, but unsure if that's the best solution..

    .. alternatively what if the coolant is too alkaline and needs ph lowered? thx. Jan
     
  2. Luigi Scala

    Luigi Scala Rookie
    Sponsor Professional Ferrari Technician

    Aug 24, 2009
    14
    Jan, seeing as I am not a chemist or a pool maintainer, I have no idea what to do about the ph balance of the coolant, nor do I know if it really matters.
    If you suspect your coolant is no good, flush it out and replace it with new, we use "Shell" concentrate and mix 50/50 with water, coolant should be changed every two years with no regard to mileage.
    Also make certain the engine to chassis grounds are in proper condition to combat electrolosis taking place inside the engine and prematurely corroding engine components and breaking down the coolant. This DOES matter and will be avoided with regular maintenenace intervals of the coolant.
    I hope this helps....Luigi
     
  3. JohnnyS

    JohnnyS F1 World Champ
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    Oct 19, 2006
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    Check local auto stores for coolant additive packages. The borate in the additive package buffers the pH to around 8-8.5. Often the glycol already contains this package and will buffer the water to the proper pH. RO water has little buffering so any carbon dioxide that gets absorbed into the water will form carbonic acid and lower the pH. The good news is that the buffering in so low that it takes almost no alkaline chemical (borate) to adjust the pH back up.

    Borate is sodium borate or if you wish, Borax. Borax can be found in your local store in the laundry section. However, I would use an additive package formulated for autos.
     
  4. f1karting

    f1karting Karting

    Jul 19, 2006
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    Jan H
    Thanks Luigi.. thats good advice. J
     
  5. f1karting

    f1karting Karting

    Jul 19, 2006
    242
    BC Canada
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    Jan H
    Good plan.. Ill check whats available around town.

    Do you feel that buffering to 8-8.5 (slightly alkaline) is ideal?

    If you know of any links/ sources where some good reading can be done on the subject, I would be interested to learn more about the processes and chemistry of cooling systems.

    thanks J
     
  6. JohnnyS

    JohnnyS F1 World Champ
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    #6 JohnnyS, Dec 11, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
    Probably more like 8.5 to 9 is best for minimal steel corrosion. The reason to get a coolant package is that it will contain the buffering (borate), silicate for aluminum corrosion protection and dispersants to keep scale from forming. I would say as long as the pH is above 8 you are fine. Glycol breaks down into acids, which lower the pH. So, used glycol can easily be checked using pH paper. In fact, many large trucking firms take the glycol out of the trucks, filter it and back add the additives and put the stuff back into the trucks. Saves $$ and works just fine.

    Remember that for corrosion, you need three things. They are metal, water and oxygen. Remove one of those and no corrosion. So, once you have your system set up, leave it alone. Opening the radiator cap allows more oxygen in and thus more corrosion will happen. I don't agree with those that change the coolant every year. There is no need to and by using really good water like RO or distilled, the coolant can last easily for 5 years. Using the extended life glycols can push that out to 7 years.
     
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  8. f1karting

    f1karting Karting

    Jul 19, 2006
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    BC Canada
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    Jan H
    very helpful response.. thank you
     
  9. Luigi Scala

    Luigi Scala Rookie
    Sponsor Professional Ferrari Technician

    Aug 24, 2009
    14
    I am impressed, we all have learned here...This is the beauty of Fchat.
    Great answer, does the ph stay the same for aluminum?
     
  10. JohnnyS

    JohnnyS F1 World Champ
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    Aluminum corrosion is minimal at 7.5 up to 9.5. Silicate works best as an aluminum corrosion inhibitor at pH of 8.5 to 9.5. If the pH is lower, the phosphates help protect the aluminum. When using water to dilute glycol to a working concentration of 40-50%, use distilled, RO or even softened water. The calcium in tap water will react, causing scaling and reduced the effectiveness of the silicate.

    The control of corrosion in a mixed metal system like that found in cars is a bit complex. This is why one needs to stick with ready made additive packages or standard glycol packages found in stores. These are formulated to minimize corrosion of all the metals in your system. If you have copper, like the old copper core radiators, look to find an additive mix that contains azole or is otherwise advertized for use with copper.
     

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