Category Archives: Oils, Lubricants & Additives

Grease-y Business

Grease-y Business

It is used in all kinds of applications, from bearings and gearboxes to gear wheels and chain systems. It reduces friction, protects against corrosion and seals against water. Then, of course, there’s the unique aspect that it stays in places where oil would simply run off. We are, of course, talking about lubricating grease

The basics of grease

A lubricating grease comprises 80 to 90% base oil, and of course, the choice of oil affects the grease performance. Both mineral and synthetic base oils can be used. The synthetic oils can lend the grease properties that mineral oil can’t, such as a wider temperature range, greater chemical resistance or better electrical properties.

Stays in place

Lubricating grease should provide good lubrication to reduce friction and abrasion and, just like lubricating oils, should also protect against corrosion. However, grease also has unique advantages over oil. It can provide a seal to keep dirt, water and contaminants out of the lubrication point. Grease stays where it is applied, and so can lubricate in areas where an oil would simply run off. This is the reason grease is used to lubricate all kinds of different applications, such as ball, roller and slide bearings, gearboxes and open gear wheels.

Grease or oil?

Because of its consistency, grease stays put in the lubrication point, it has sealing properties, offers good corrosion protection and can withstand heavy loads. However, grease does have some limitations. Unlike oil, grease cannot conduct heat away, for instance in an engine which needs cooling. Nor can lubricating grease be filtered to increase its purity. It’s also difficult to separate water from grease.

Choosing the right grease

Each application places particular demands on the lubricating grease. When choosing the right grease, it is important to consider everything from water, dirt and chemicals to temperature, speed and load. Just as with lubricating oils, the viscosity of the base oil is also important. Low viscosity base oils tend to work better at low temperatures, while lubricating grease with high base-oil viscosity is used with higher loads and temperatures. The speed/revs per minute in the application should also be considered. Low speeds call for a high viscosity base oil, while low viscosity base oils are better in fast-moving applications.

Blend wisely

When a new grease is being used in an application, it is important to know whether the new grease and the old one can be mixed. The best outcome is that no changes are observed, as that means the greases are miscible. The grease mixture may harden, and this can have devastating consequences for a centralised lubrication system. On the other hand, the grease mixture could also soften, which can cause leakage and bearing failure.

Warning: over-lubrication!

It is important to use the right amount of grease, and to lubricate at the correct frequency. More is not always better, and overdosing the grease can be a costly business. Over-lubrication of bearings can lead to higher temperatures and accelerate the oxidation of the grease, which breaks down and ages the grease far more quickly. This can lead to increased wear and eventually component failure.

Seals can also be damaged if bearings are over-lubricated. Too high of a pressure from a grease gun when lubricating bearings can damage the seal, which could enable water and contaminants to get into the bearing, leading to additional wear and corrosion.

To prevent this happening, be sure to review all lubrication points and draw up a maintenance schedule. The schedule will specify the right amount of lubricating grease and re-lubricating intervals.

Understand Turbochargers – A Comma TechTalk

Turbochargers – What do they do?

In simple terms, a turbocharger is a turbine-driven forced induction device that uses engine exhaust gas (free energy that would otherwise go to waste) to breathe more air into the combustion chamber, providing a more efficient engine operation.

Although in the past turbochargers were used mostly in high performance applications, nowadays they are becoming significantly more common across the whole passenger vehicle market simply because of the benefits they bring when it comes to meeting the challenging EURO environmental regulations.

How common are they in modern vehicles?

According to BTN Turbo, today 49% of cars on the road are turbocharged and this is rapidly increasing due the growth of turbocharged petrol applications.

What challenges do turbochargers present in terms of lubrication?

Turbochargers present some unique challenges when it comes to lubrication because of the extreme conditions under which they operate. In a modern application an engine oil needs to do the same tough job of lubricating a turbocharger but it needs to do it for longer, with less of it circulating around the engine and with limits on the amount of additives that can be used in the formulations.

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BTN state that the great majority of turbocharger failures are a result of a lubrication fault of some kind.

In fact, turbochargers are very reliable: less than 1% of turbochargers fail due to a manufacturing fault with the turbo itself.

Nevertheless, the design of any turbo relies on the central spindle to be supported on a very thin lm of oil and when that protective layer breaks down it takes only seconds for damage to occur, the result being a rapid increase in temperature and wear at the spindle or journal bearings which can quite quickly cause failure. Research by BTN Turbo suggests, 95% of turbocharger failures are caused by a lubrication related issue, particularly oil contamination and oil starvation.

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Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 16.58.50A good preventive maintenance measure to keep turbochargers in good working order is making sure the system
is kept, as much as possible, free from carbon deposits and sludge. It is also vital to clean the lubrication system thoroughly before tting a new turbo. If the wrong oil or a poor quality oil has been used, a complete flush will help by removing harmful contaminants and will also inhibit the build-up of harmful deposits in the future.

How can I make sure I get it right?

The safest way to select the right engine oil is to use Comma’s application tool at Here you will find product recommendations with our 100% compatibility guarantee for engine oil and antifreeze & coolant for European vehicles going back over 30 years. It also covers brake fluid, transmission and power steering fluid recommendations.

Or download the ‘Comma Oil Finder’ app from Google Play and the App Store


Brake Fluid – Changing technologies

Brake fluids are becoming more complicated. Why is this?

Vehicle technology has moved on and nowadays the modern passenger car weighs more, accelerates harder and travels substantially faster than its older counterpart. It therefore requires substantially more braking force to bring modern vehicles to a stop. Combined with complex, computer controlled functions such as ABS and ESP, the higher weight and faster speed of modern vehicles makes modern brake systems considerably more demanding on brake fluid than they ever were. Modern vehicles therefore need modern, high performance brake fluids in order to keep them braking effectively and safely.

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Which brake fluid do I need for my car?

There are a range of products to meet the demands of modern vehicles. Synthetic fluids, based on polyalkylene glycol (PAG), are the most common type (DOT3, DOT4, DOT 4 ESP and DOT 5.1). They are compatible with one another and therefore can be mixed however, as with oil and coolant, you should always comply with the manufacturers’ specifications for the intended vehicle as using the wrong fluid can seriously compromise braking performance.

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Are there any other types of brake fluid?

As well as synthetic PAG-based products there are other types of brake fluid. Mineral oil based products (Comma’s LHM+) have been used in the combined hydraulic systems of Citroën’s for years. They are designed specifically for this type of application and are not suitable for use where DOT type products are specified. The final type of brake fluid is rather confusingly called DOT 5.0 but it should not be confused with the other DOT speci ed brake uids as it is completely different technology. DOT 5.0 is a silicone- based product designed for specialist applications and is therefore not currently required as part of the Comma range. It is not compatible with any other type of brake fluid and is not recommended for conventional applications. It’s very important that you do not mix these fluids with each other or with the synthetic, DOT type fluids. They aren’t compatible and can cause significant damage to braking systems, to the seals particularly, if used in the wrong application.

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I’ve heard that brake fluid is hygroscopic. What does that mean?

Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means that it absorbs water from the air around it hence why you are always advised to start each new brake fluid change with an unopened container of brake fluid.

However, absorbing water is part of the brake fluid’s function. By keeping water locked in tight it stops it from pooling in the lower areas of a braking system. This helps to maintain hydraulic pressure, protects against corrosion and maintains the viscosity of the fluid (i.e. it keeps it doing its job). The downside is that as the brake fluid absorbs water its boiling point drops and eventually brake fluid will absorb enough water such that the boiling point becomes dangerously low. This is more or less how the service life of brake fluid is defined.

The Brake Fluid Test

Comma did some testing of their own with a brake fluid tester and the results were quite astonishing. We tested around 750 vehicles and of those approximately 33% were measured at below the 180°C minimum. One was as low as 100°C which is the boiling point of pure water! The risks associated with driving a vehicle with faulty brake fluid are self-evident and compelling. It’s simply not enough to change brake fluid
at the same time as faulty discs or pads. Like engine oil or coolant, brake fluid should be changed at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals and at any time in between if it is found to be faulty with a brake fluid boiling point tester.

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When do I need to change the brake fluid?

As the brakes start to heat up temperature of water-contaminated brake uid approaches and eventually exceeds its boiling point and this causes vapour bubbles to appear. This vapour is very compressible and absorbs large amounts of the force applied to the brake pedal before it ever reaches the calipers, thus making the brakes feel spongy. As the brake fluid gets older, it will continue to absorb more and more water such that the boiling point becomes dangerously low, and so, given the above information, manufacturers always recommend a change of brake fluid at a particular interval (typically between 1 and 2 years).

How do I select the right Brake Fluid?

To make this increasingly complicated choice a lot easier you can use the Comma Application Guide or our website where you can select your vehicle using the VRN (Vehicle Registration Number) tool or by using the make and model search. You will then be presented with a printable full vehicle recommended product report including engine oil, antifreeze & coolant, transmission oils, brake fluid and greases if applicable.

How does a water pump work? – The INA water pump program

How does a water pump work? – The INA water pump program

For an engine to work effectively, it must reach its optimum operating temperature quickly and constantly remain as close to this temperature as possible. Among other things the water pump is responsible for this in the engine.

Hydraulic fluid: functions, systems & application

Hydraulic systems

The components which make up a hydraulic system are essentially the same, regardless ofScreen Shot 2017-03-02 at 10.59.02
the application. There is a hydraulic fluid reservoir, a pump to force the fluid through the system, an electric motor or other power source to drive the pump and valves that control the direction of flow, pressure and flow rate. Then, actuators are employed to convert the energy of the fluid into mechanical force or torque to do the useful work. Actuators can be either cylinders to provide linear motion or motors for rotary motion. Finally, all the components are connected by pipes and hoses to convey the fluid from one location to another.

Hydraulic fluid main functions and applications

The primary function of any hydraulic uid is to transfer power throughout a hydraulic system.

The hydraulic fluid also acts as the lubricant of all moving parts (e.g. cylinders and pumps) of the system and protects it against corrosion. Compatibility with seals and hoses is also a major issue with hydraulic fluids, as different systems have completely different requirements.

Hydraulic systems that can be found in a vehicle include (amongst others) certain power steering systems, stability control, traction control, hydraulic clutches, hydraulic systems on convertibles and some central locking mechanisms however, different applications make completely different demands on the fluids. Fluids for hydraulic systems are selected per several operating conditions such as load, speed, temperature, as well as any special requirements for the type of end use application of the specific hydraulic system.

What is hydraulic fluid made of?

Hydraulic uid formulations vary greatly with speci cation however, a typical formulation includes a base oil (mineral or synthetic based) and an additive package. The additive package typically includes anti-oxidants, anti-wear and anti-foam agents, emulsifiers/demulsifiers, corrosion inhibitors and viscosity-index improvers that are used to enhance properties such as resistance to oxidation, air release, thermal stability, anti-corrosion, extreme pressure, anti-wear and ltration performance.

Comma LDS Fluid

Following a strategy of vehicle parc coverage increase for hydraulic applications, the new Comma LDS Fluid has been introduced. This product is currently suitable for approximately 1.3M vehicles in the UK.

This fully synthetic formulated product is recommended for all applications requiring the PSA S71 2710 specification. Originally developed for use in the Citroën C5 Hydractive 3+ suspension system, it is also specified for use in power steering, stability control, hydraulic clutches, hydraulic systems on convertibles and some central locking mechanisms of PSA group vehicles (Peugeot, Citroën and DS) and vehicles using PSA Group components such as certain SsangYong and Toyota models.

Comma LHM +

Comma LHM + is an advanced mineral based product which has been used in the combined hydraulic systems of Citroens for years. It meets ISO 7308 and Citroen B71 2710 and is compatible with other LHM and LHM Plus uids meeting Citroen B712710. It is also suitable for certain Peugeot, Rolls Royce & Bentley models.


Comma MVCHF is a special synthetic oil based hydraulic fluid suitable for power steering, central hydraulic and suspension level control systems which require CHF11S* and CHF202*.

It is also suitable for certain stability and traction control systems, hydrostatically driven fans, generators and air conditioning units, control of convertible car top covers and central locking systems requiring any of the specifications listed below:

VW/Audi G 002 000/TL52146; BMW; Opel B040.0070; MB 345.00; Porsche; MAN 3623/93 CHF11S; ISO 7308; DIN 51 524T2

Understanding base oils & the importance of top quality suppliers

Base Oil Types

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 15.07.56The main component of any engine oil is base oil and all engine oils are classified as either mineral, semi-synthetic or fully synthetic depending on the type of base oil used (Figure 1).

Engine oils classified as mineral use base oils that are separated from crude oil by conventional solvent refining and are themselves defined as ‘Mineral’. Engine oils classified as fully synthetic use so called ‘Synthetic’ base oils that are produced via a series of chemical reactions which tailor their properties to give a much higher level of base performance than mineral oils. An engine oil that is classified as semi synthetic is made from a blend of mineral and synthetic base oils in varying proportions and in performance terms ts somewhere between mineral and fully synthetic.

 The American Petroleum Institute (API) has categorized base oils into five categories. The first three groups are refined from petroleum crude oil. Group IV base oils are PAO (polyalphaole n) oils. Group V is for all other base oils not included in Groups I through IV. Before all the additives are added to the mixture, engine oils begin as one or more of these five API groups.

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How much base oil is used in the final product?

Typically, base oil accounts for between 60-90% of common passenger vehicle engine oil, with the rest being made up of additives like viscosity improvers, detergents, dispersants etc. – which are tailored to different manufacturers engine requirements. The quality of the base stocks used has therefore a tremendous impact on the quality of the finished product.

Top quality raw materials suppliers

For Comma customers to always be sure of the quality of the products, Comma invests in stable, consistent long-term supply relationships with top quality raw materials suppliers — of course there are often cheaper, lesser quality alternatives available from different sources at different times from different markets. Inferior or variable quality can lead to performance and mechanical failures, which is bad news for motorists, whoever installs the products and the distributors that supply them.

Comma’s suppliers offer absolute quality, consistency and continuity of supply through long standing agreements for supply of base oils and chemicals.

What do you mean by “Inferior or variable quality” base stocks?

Typically, Group II base oils are superior to Group I. With an increase in performance in mind, Comma’s mineral and semi synthetic oils moved from Group I to Group II. The table below (Fig.3) shows the key performance areas.

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I hear “Russian base stocks” are poor quality. Why is that?

Many Russian base oils have not been approved by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to provide satisfactory performance. These oils, and indeed all unapproved oils, can offer significantly lower performance compared to those used by Comma. The table below (Fig.4) gives comparisons for other base oil performance areas, between non-approved, low quality, Russian base oils and those used by Comma.

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Lower Viscosity – COMMA Tech Talk

Fuel Economy

Vehicle technology has changed dramatically in recent years driven by the introduction of increasingly demanding environmental legislation. Tougher regulations are forcing manufacturers to continually improve fuel economy, reduce harmful exhaust emissions and reduce oil waste across their vehicle range.

Choosing the right type of engine oil is one way to make an engine more fuel efficient. Lower viscosity oils combined with high performance additives significantly reduce the friction between engine components making them the best choice for fuel economy.


Lower Viscosity

Fig 1 – The move towards lower viscosity engine oils

This is one reason why many manufacturers are recommending fully synthetic 5W30s, 5W20s, 0W30s and even 0W20s for their newer vehicles and is also an example of how the different demands of the manufacturer has led to multiple products of the same viscosity and whilst we do our best to try and combine these specifications its virtually impossible to combine the requirements of every manufacturer into a single, cost effective product.


Latest Additions

Although 5W30 is still the most common fuel economy engine oil grade, vehicle manufacturers are now looking to take fuel economy a step further by developing even thinner oils grades, with 0W30, 5W20 and 0W20 viscosities becoming the preference for the most recent formulation developments.

Following its strategy to maximise the UK vehicle park coverage, Comma has recently introduced Eco-P 0W30 (for the latest PSA petrol and diesel engines), Eco-FE 0W30 (for new Ford TDCi DuraTorq engines (1.5, 1.6 & 2.0)) and Eco-V 0W20 (for the latest Volvo engines with VEA (Volvo Engine Architecture) Drive-E Powertrain), formulated to meet the very latest and highest vehicle manufacturer requirements. When added to the pre-existing Performance Motor Oil products, Comma can now o er up to to 99% UK vehicle parc coverage.


How do I know which product to use on which car?

The safest way to make product recommendations is to use one of Comma’s application tools. At you will find product recommendations with 100% compatibility guarantee
for engine oil and antifreeze & coolant for virtually every European vehicle going back over 30yrs, including system capacities and recommended service intervals. It also covers brake fluid, gear oil and power steering fluid should you find you need some help with those as well.It also covers brake fluid, transmission and power steering fluid recommendations.

What Causes Early Pump Failure?

Following recent analysis of our inspection data we’ve been able to identify the most common causes of premature water pump failure in passenger cars throughout Europe. Interestingly, the most frequently recurring issues are as a result of installer error, mainly due to:

  • Dry rotation/testing for free movement of water pump assemblies before installation
  • Use of inappropriate seals/gaskets or sealant;
  • Incompatible/contaminated coolant;
  • Installation of worn/defective parts.


Although these are major causes, they’re not listed in order of importance and all are regularly repeated somewhere in one of our European markets on a daily basis. They all, however, can be avoided through training, access to good technical information, following the correct procedures and using the appropriate tools.

Understanding what makes water pumps fail is the key to longer operational life of the drive system and its individual components and that’s why Gates gathers so much inspection data.

It’s important to understand that the average water pump has a throughput of around 1.7 million litres of coolant over a four year (100,000 kms/60,000 miles) duty cycle. Routine replacement of the water
pump without investigating the cause of failure could condemn the new replacement to an even shorter life.

Fewer remedial repairs, more workshop efficiency and increased levels of customer satisfaction must be the goals of every workshop manager, so access to reliable technical information is essential.

The GatesTechZone is an important resource for any drive system specialist. It includes product support, technical tips, details about tools, installation and diagnostic procedures, as well as access to the Gates online catalogue. It also identifies the most common causes of failure and explains how errors can be avoided.


As well as helping to keep the engine cool, the coolant plays an important role in maintaining an efficient seal inside the water pump. Constant lubrication of internal seals is essential.

Never dry rotate/test for free movement of a water pump assembly before installation – even for a few seconds. Dry rotation can permanently damage the internal seals and that will cause a leak. After the system has been refilled with coolant, you should rotate the drive pulley by hand a few times. This will allow a small amount of coolant to lubricate the mechanical seal before the engine is started.

Tip: To test for free movement of the water pump assembly before installation, fill a reservoir full of coolant and immerse the water pump. A test for free movement can now be made without fear of compromising the integrity of the water pump!


Old gaskets and seals must be replaced. If the water pump has a gasket or seal, never apply sealant as this will cause component failure. Use sealant only when specified by the manufacturer. Improper use can cause problems with water pump seating or the seal can be compromisedIf Sealant is recommended, put an even bead along the edge and around the coolant passages (installation holes) on the impeller-side of the pump. Too much sealant will compromise the installation because it breaks off and contaminates the coolant.4

Tip: Different sealants have different drying rates. Always respect the instructions of both the sealant manufacturer and the water pump manufacturer.


Use of unspecified or contaminated coolants leads to premature failure of the water pump. An unspecified, incompatible or mixture of different coolants usually leads to insufficient protection against rust or corrosion.

Contamination commonly occurs in systems that haven’t been properly maintained.Abrasive particles circulate through the system, scratching and damaging the seals and internal surfaces, destroying the individual component and creating the pathways that allow leaks to develop.Before installing a new water pump, drain and flush the entire cooling system with appropriate equipment.

Tip: Modern cooling systems are complex, contain a range of different materials and rely on specific coolant formulations for protection from rust and corrosion. This is the key reason for the growth of manufacturer-approved coolants. Always use the recommended specification.


A worn belt fitted with a new water pump, or a new belt fitted with an old water pump, is a recipe for premature drive system failure. Gates recommends a complete drive system overhaul – replacing the belt and the tensioner(s) at the same time as the water pump – by means of an all-in-one kit. This minimises risk of drive system failure and optimises the lifetime of the individual components.

Tip: Follow the recommended water pump installation procedure and the kit manufacturer’s  recommendations with respect to belt tensioning and torque setting.


Seepage from the weep hole in a newly installed water pump is normal during the initial ‘break-in’ period – there is no cause for concern. Once the mechanical seal has seated itself, the seepage will stop. Prolonged seepage or a large coolant bleed mark around the weep hole is abnormal and indicates impending water pump failure.

By performing a drive system overhaul and following the manufacturer’s fitting instructions every time, installers can ensure a further 100,000 km/60,000 miles of drive system reliability.

Confidence Comes from Within

Different types of gearboxes require different oils

Not using the right product can cause serious performance issues and even render the vehicle undriveable as different gearbox technologies have different lubrication requirements. CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmissions) and DCTs (Dual-clutch transmissions) are becoming more common in the vehicle parc (approximately 9% in total) and present some challenging requirements when it comes to gearbox oils, as well as interesting servicing opportunities.

CVT (Continuously Variable Transmissions)screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-09-02-19

In a CVT, conventional gears are replaced by two variable size drums and a drive belt or chain. The belt or chain runs in a groove formed between the sides of each drum. The diameter of each drum is controlled by the transmission computer through the action of hydraulic cylinders, applying or reducing oil pressure to the movable part of each drum. When one pulley increases its radius, the other decreases its radius to keep the belt tight. As the two pulleys change their radius relative to one another, they create an in nite number of gear ratios, from low to high and everything in between. Thus, in theory, a CVT has an in nite number of “gears” that it can run through at any time, at any engine or vehicle speed. The efficiency and durability of the pulley system used in CVTs depends on the system’s friction performance. Also, some of these transmission systems do not use a conventional clutch but instead use a torque converter, just like the conventional automatic gearbox.

CVT transmissions account for approximately 6% of the UK vehicle parc with the average sump size being 5.5 litres (this is compared to an average of 3 litres for manual transmissions and 6 litres for a conventional automatic). The CVT fluid must be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommended service interval and anytime it is found to be faulty (periodic checks should be performed to make sure that the CVT is kept in good working order).

DCT (Dual Clutch Transmissions)

A dual-clutch transmission, or a DCT, is a type of semi-automatic automotive transmission. It uses two separate clutches for odd and even gear sets. It can fundamentally be described as two separate manual transmissions (with their respective clutches) contained within one housing, and working as one unit.

There are two fundamental types of clutches utilised in dual-clutch transmissions: either two wet multi-plate clutches which are bathed in oil, or two dry single-plate clutches. In terms of lubrication, the “dry” conventional type requires conventional manual gearbox oil, however, the “wet” type has some extra requirements for oil so that the oil does not in influence the friction characteristics of the clutch which can cause the clutch to slip and ultimately, to not work at all.

DCT transmissions account for approximately 3% of the UK vehicle parc and the average sump size is of 6.4 litres (the manual transmission average is 3 litres with the conventional automatic average being 6 litres). The DCT uid must be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommended service interval and anytime it is found to be faulty (periodical checks should be performed), to make sure that the DCT is kept in good working order.


What happens if I don’t use the right product?

Not using the right product can cause serious performance issues and even render the vehicle undriveable as different gearboxes have different lubrication requirements. Remember, gear oils come with industry/manufacturer’s specifications and not using a product that meets the requirements can void warranties.

How to get it right?

To make this increasingly complicated choice a lot easier, you can use the VRN lookup facility or make and model function at You will then be presented with a printable full vehicle product report including engine oil, antifreeze & coolant, transmission oils, brake fluid and greases, if applicable.

Prevent Premature Water Pump Failure – A Technical Tip from Gates

Keep the Cooling System Free of Debris and Corrosion to Prevent Premature Water Pump Failure


Over time, coolant in the cooling system can break down resulting in the need to service the system. The protectants in many of today’s coolants become depleted and weak leading to corrosion, rust and scale. When this depletion takes place, heat and chemical reactions can eat away at the inside of the system creating small particulates. These particulates, as small as 50 microns, can get trapped in the water pump seal causing damage. The damage leaves small areas for coolant to leak out through the weep hole. Excessive damage can lead to fluid backing up into the bearings resulting in bearing failure. A properly flushed system will remove those contaminants. Make sure the flush is complete with the old pump still in place. Flushing after the new pump is installed can lead to premature failure due to particulates getting caught in the seals during the flush. We recommend a complete flush of the system utilizing the Gates PowerClean Flush Tool (91002).


screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-17-08-18Mixing Coolants:

So what leads to contaminated systems besides depleted coolant protectants? Mixing coolants of different chemistries can lead to corrosion within the system. There are 4 main combinations used today and none of them are compatible. These coolant types work differently to protect the engine.


  • Inorganic Additives – silicates and phosphates are used to plate the cooling system with a protective layer.
  • Organic Additives react chemically with the metal surfaces when needed for protection.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-17-08-45Corrosion inhibitors and additives from one coolant can negate the effects of inhibitors in another coolant. Corrosion can take over well before 5000 miles and then the car is back in the shop with a leaking water pump and clogged radiator and heater core.

Topping off the system is a common practice at many shops. This can begin the corrosion process unless the proper coolant is used. Most shops use Universal antifreeze because it says on the container that it is OK to mix with any colour coolant. But, take a look at the back of the bottle. They all either recommend or require a drain, flush and fill to experience the expected corrosion protection. Below are a few comments from coolant manufacturers and recyclers.

• Zerex: “There are at least several distinct coolant types commonly used today, and using a type incompatible with the coolant recommended in the owner’s manual (or on the underhood label) is inviting disaster (no exaggeration here).”

• EcoFreeze: “What happens if you mix conventional Antifreeze with Extended Life antifreeze? Extended Life (OAT) antifreeze is NOT compatible with conventional (IAT) antifreeze. Aside from discoloration of antifreeze when the two are mixed together, a chemical reaction is caused when the carboxylate salts are mixed with the inorganic salts and caustics found in conventional antifreeze. If they are mixed, the antifreeze can become cloudy, precipitation can generate and the coolant will lose its extended life properties.”

• EET Corp.: “Color does not necessarily indicate what kind of corrosion inhibitor is contained in antifreeze. You have to read the label. Mixing di erent types of antifreezes can reduce their corrosion protection and can actually lead to corrosion problems. Engine manufacturers recommend a 10% limit on mixing coolant types. If you need to add more than 10%, it is recommended that you ush your radiator system and replace the antifreeze.”