Can You Use Car Coolant in a Dirt Bike?


can i use car coolant on dirt bikes

If your interest is answering the question, “Can you use car coolant in a dirt bike?” then you have come to the right place. As dirt bike riders, you often want to go on the cheap when it comes to dirt bike products. At times, this means using fuel and oil products that are compatible across the broad spectrum of the automotive industry.

That is the case when it comes to car coolants (paid link) and dirt bikes. Most experienced dirt bike riders will tell you how they have been using car coolants in their dirt bikes. The guy at the dirt bike store or another rider will tell you something completely different.

Whatever the case, it always wise to learn for yourself the truth on why car coolants are finding use in dirt bikes.

But understanding car coolants takes learning the difference in why they are different models.

That will lay the foundation for use to see why circumstances differ when it comes to answering, “can you use a car coolant in a dirt bike?”.

Coolants in Cars vs. Dirt Bikes

There is not much real difference in car coolants and the brands we have for dirt bikes.

The only significant difference lies in the primary bases in the coolant formula.

You will find that coolants have ethylene glycol as the basis in a majority of the cases.

The make gives them excellent cooling properties, but you will find them quite toxic even for disposable ones.

On the flip side, there are coolants made from polypropylene glycol, which is much environmentally friendly.

I would clarify that this makes the refrigerants less toxic.

Now, from these base elements, we can make three general categories of coolants in the automotive industry. While excluding the typical waterless coolant or running straight water versions, we get these options

Inorganic Acid Technology(IAT)

Coolants in this category come with the classic green liquid form that has been noticeable for ages.

You will also find that they are a mixture of Ethylene Glycol and corrosion inhibitors.

In other coolants, Propylene Glycol is in place of the toxic alternative.

Organic Acid Technology (OAT)

OAT coolants describe coolants made from neutralized organic acids and azoles.

The organic acids are silicate free with corrosive inhibitors for the different diesel situations.

These coolants are also superior in regards to durability. Most OATs labels have the ‘Long Life Coolants’ tag to attest to its protection of all components.

That is since OATs come with excellent high-temperature resistance to give your aluminum engine components protection.

You can differentiate OATs coolants from other types with their typical amber, red, or orange colors.

Hybrid Organic Acid Technology(HOAT)

The mention of ‘hybrid’ would lead you to assume there is an answer to “can you use a car coolant in a dirt bike.”

The name suggests that these types of coolants offer the best of both worlds. In essence, they are coolants which combine the traditional corrosion inhibitor technology to the benefit of OAT coolant.

The resulting HOAT technology combines to have an excellent coolant to coolant compatibility.

Also, HOAT coolants are available in the different formulation to cater for light and heavy-duty applications.

You will find HOAT coolants with or without borate, nitrate, phosphate, or silicate. That makes the HOAT car coolants compatible with mixed fleet applications.

Can You Use Car Coolant in a Motorcycle?

I reckon by now you are asking what knowing car coolant basics have to do with your dirt bike.

Well, knowing the fewer differences in the type of coolants goes along way in understanding the products.

But whether you can use car coolant in a dirt bike is still up for debate. From my perspective, the answer is pretty ambiguous.

I would say yes since there are universal car coolant products that are compatible with pretty much of the dirt bikes available.

But, if you intend to use the car-specific coolant in your dirt bike, you will need to decide on two issues.

First, the car coolant in place should include the ethylene glycol antifreeze as part of its formulation.

The antifreeze element is a colorless and odorless viscous liquid that lowers the freezing temperature for your fuel.

Another rule of thumb when it comes to answering, “can you use a car coolant in a dirt bike,” is issues of silicates.

You will be aware that silicates are the anti-corrosive chemical that inhibits aluminum corrosion.

Yet, this is only in cars as dirt bikes tend to experience corrosion in their seals and water pump.

That would explain why a good number of dirt bike coolants are silica-free.

Can You Use Prestone Antifreeze in a Motorcycle

There is much debate also in which is the best coolant when it comes to dirt bikes.

Water, in particular, receives plenty of rave on how it’s terrific in being the best cooling substance.

Now, like a dirt bike enthusiast, I would not swear on this despite the truth behind it.

In using water, there are many conveniences since its free and easy to refill.

However, distilled water is the best for cooling since tap water will only do you more harm.

You would also want to know a different opinion opposing water use and have a car coolant in place.

Distilled or not, water still promotes plenty of condensation. That would eat away your engine compartments.

Rather than have this happening, you will find riders using the Prestone antifreeze. From the start, the product reads plenty of versatility in it.

You can buy Prestone antifreeze from Amazon by clicking here.

According to Prestone, the antifreeze/coolant is compatible with all makes and models of engines in the automotive world.

One of the coolant best selling points has to be its capability to protect the cooling system from rust and corrosion.

Since its a universal coolant, this makes it suitable to help you avoid topping off your OEM factory fill.

Some concerns, however, lie in how the Prestone antifreeze/coolant is set up for use.

You will only dilute the Prestone antifreeze with distilled water and not tap water.

Dirt bike riders have also sought to run their dirt bikes with other universal car coolants for the purpose.

While it’s not advisable, this has led to the answering of, “can you use car coolant in a dirt bike.”

In this case, the Genuine Honda All Season Antifreeze and Coolant is turning out to be a universal option.

You can buy Genuine Honda All Season Antifreeze and Coolant by clicking here.

Its a premix formulation of 50 percent water and 50 percent antifreeze.

Similarly to the Prestone coolant, it’s also a primary non-silicate compound that can act as a temporary coolant replacement.

You will find it harmless at first use, but continued use would result in corrosion on aluminum dirt bike engines.

So if you happen to use the Genuine Honda All Season Antifreeze and Coolant, be sure to flash your cooling system each time.

Failure to do so may result in a malfunction or engine failure.

Safety measures

In my perspective, there is zero difference in what a car coolant and dirt bike coolant can do to your engine.

Both scenarios involve aluminum engines, so the hint is that they work the same.

But this is not the basis to why I gave a yes to the query on, “can you use a car coolant in a dirt bike.”

My best reason is that for the car coolant to be useful in a dirt bike, it has to be an ethylene-based premix.

The formulation also has to be specific in terms to the mix of 50 percent coolant and 50 percent water.

Changing your dirt bike coolant should also happen periodically at least every two years since its performance deteriorates over time.

Aluminum corrosion, condensation, or change in the water-to-coolant ratio would often be the cause of such cases.

Other dirt bike riders would experiment by using a water wetter in place of distilled water. The water wetter will reduce the surface tension of water and have the formulation cold beyond its normal coolant levels.

The idea is great, but for everyday dirt bike riding, you better stick to the reviewed routines.

Such a case of using a water wetter was a development while finding trying to find out the best selling coolants. Later on, the idea has passed to even feature in race dirt bikes.

Risk or Reward

I would not rate enough the question of, “ can you use a car coolant in a dirt bike.”

You will find that opinion still varies, especially between riders and manufacturers.

But as you can see, it is practical to use a car coolant in a dirt bike. The only limits are the formulation of the car coolant.

If you happen to run into a silicate free coolant from the best coolant list, then well and good. Be sure to watch out for the formulation.

But if you are still doubtful on whether it can work for your dirt bike, check your bike’s service manual.

The answer to your query on, “can you use car coolant in a dirt bike,” may lay inside the booklet.

Daniel Mose

Daniel is a big fan of dirt biking. I own KTM 250 SX-F. I love learning how to maintain this dirt bike and ensure it lasts long while serving me without any issues. Join me in this journey as I document stuff that we, as dirt bike lovers, ought to know.

Recent Content