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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Antifreeze

Hi can I ask what people are using these days , I was surprised my local Halfords doesn't do the blue ethylene glycol any more .
Mike Fairclough

I've always used Bluecol, although I haven't bought any for a while.
Dave O'Neill 2

I will say it before Nigel does
Commonly available I believe
Though I don't use it. Unnecessarily expensive stuff!

Bluecol for me. It was from either Motor Mania or Bennetts motor factors, can't remember which. Definitely not from Halfrods.
C Mee

Are you sure your Halfords don't do it.
I had to hunt recently because of all the OAT stuff. It would appear their blue ethylene glycol stuff is now labelled as silicate.

Then again I've not opened the bottle and it might indeed not be blue or the right stuff ....
G Hawkins

As Guy has put I use 4-LIFE, it's not that expensive if you can keep it in your car for 10 years, in fact it works out a very lot less expensive than changing every 2 years. I think it might have been in my mate's car for 20 years so far (not that I'd recommend keeping it in that long).

Halford's stuff, as already mentioned and Bluecol for traditionalist, (now owned by the T-cut company).

Nigel Atkins

Caterpillar ELC for me. (Extended Life Coolant). Because I get it for free. Specifically formulated for iron engines and said to protect down to -30C (-22F). If it can cope with the high spot temperatures and temperature gradients in a 1250hp diesel it will have no real challenges in a 1500 T*****h engine.

It hasn't been changed in the boat for at least 5 years to my certain knowledge and we sample and lab-test every 6 months.

Very pretty pink colour too!

Thanks for the replies , blue col is what I used to use might have track it down . 4 life looks good but as I mess about with the car a lot I'd be worried about wasting it .I saw the silicate stuff in Halfords but it wasn't. clear whether it was suitable
Mike Fairclough

Bluecol for me too.

Definitely a buy it when you see it product, and like small independent motor factors not as easy to find as once was.

I am loathed to suggest buying it online, rather than encouraging real places to stock it and then buying it, but you probably can do.

M Wood

4-Life: << as I mess about with the car a lot I'd be worried about wasting it>>

This is exactly the reason I described it as unnecessarily expensive stuff. I far too frequently have one reason or another to partially or completely drain down the cooling system. It is therefore unnecessary for me to pay for a 10-year 4-Life product when it would never remain that long in the car. I do catch and re-use coolant though its a messy business and it gets contaminated as it drips off the chassis rails and everywhere else.

At this point Lawrence would wade in with photos of his copper pipe fabricated replacement for the lower cross tube with a 1/2" drain off spout under the radiator. It enables him to quickly drain the system directly into a collecting basin without it splashing and dripping everywhere. A neat solution I keep meaning to make for my car too, though even with this feature I still wouldn't switch to 4-Life. Bluecol is still my preferred tipple. (Don't try drinking the stuff!!)

The Blue glycol one. I'm always fixing stuff whenever so cost fits with that.
Dave Squire

Last time I needed some I used Silver Hook Chemicals in Romford. Got it from Amazon about two years ago and I think it was about 12 for 5 litres and its been fine. Funny thing is it is blue in the can but when you add water it goes clear so you dont see it in the rad.

T Mason


Car Spares in Hall Green might be worth a try.
Dave O'Neill 2

Thanks all got some Bluecol from little local motor factors , it gone up in price since I last bought some ! At least it still exists and I feel like I am supporting a local business
Mike Fairclough

surely an engineering type like yourself could put in an extended good drain tap to collect and reuse whatever coolant but especially 4-LIFE.

I've no idea, how do you dispose of the old coolant, does it have to go to a recycling centre?

I'm glad they add the very bitter stuff to stop animals dying from drinking the sweet liquid.
Nigel Atkins

Excuse resurrecting the the thread please.

Nigel wrote:

"I've no idea, how do you dispose of the old coolant, does it have to go to a recycling centre?"

I got curious so I did some reading. Google knows everything, they say. Well funnily enough there doesn't seem to be any consistent information that I can find, but the recurring themes appear to be:

Ask your local Council environment department (but that is likely to be less than helpful. Certainly my local authority were completely clueless).

Don't even think about putting it down the drain. It's very toxic in some very nasty ways.

Talk to your local garage. They have to have a way to dispose of it responsibly, or at least legally.

Small quantities such as you and I might have can apparently go down the lavatory. Unlike groundwater and runoff it gets treated as effluent and the real nasties removed. Unless you have a cesspit or soakaway, in which case you're back to square one.

It's astonishing there's so little information available in this day and age, especially on something so dangerously poisonous. It seems to be the additives that are the problem - the ethylene glycol itself is apparently fairly biodegradable if my interpretation is right. One source said it's a useful weedkiller, but I'm not sure I like that idea. I'll talk with Duncan at my local garage next week and see if he can throw any light on the topic, having now got very curious. Anyone else have any idea what to do with it?


Interesting issue you raise.
Mine goes down a top water drain that goes into a large 3m deep stone filled soakaway under a flowerbed so l know it isn't connected to a public drain. I know as l dug it when l extended the house 25 years ago! The occasional gallon of diluted glycol then gets a lot more rainwater dilution over a year in Cumbria. The flowers and deeper rooted shrubs thrive

I am surprised it is ok to flush it though. Waste water treatment processes are pretty basic - just biodegrading and filtration, and are quite sensitive to toxins which impact on or slow up the microbes doing their organic stuff.

Perhaps infrequent disposal is a good reason to use Nigel's 4-Life stuff after all - if you can manage to avoid draining it down every 6 months!


Good question and I too would be interested in an answer.

Also what about old DOT4 brake fluid - how to dispose of that safely and responsibly as domestic user rather than in industrial/commercial setting?

Guy's use of a soak away reminds me of the old joke in environmental protection: in earlier times the only approach to dealing with pollution was 'the solution to pollution is dilution', rather than the then talked about 'BATNIEC' (best available technology not involving excessive cost) - which often in practice was jested to be 'CATNIP' - cheapest available technology not involving prosecution.

M Wood

I add old brake fluid to the can I keep for engine oil which then gets taken to the Council's yard and goes into their recycled oil tank.

Maybe I shouldn't be allowing my Glycol antifreeze to dilute underground then Mike? How about distilling it instead then?

Not heard the BATNIEC one, but have heard CATNIP and even seen it appear in professional reports and documents. ;-)

Funny how a simple question can get everyone thinking when we have probably all just opened the tap and let it run onto the ground for decades. I dont know but would suspect a fair few of the ingredients just evaporate and those that dont become so diluted as to be irrelevant. It will be interesting to see if anyone finds a modern solution.
T Mason

As mentioned by others trying catch antifreeze from a midget is nigh on impossible , I did try but pulling a bottom hose off it ends up everywhere. My crossflow pipe doesn't have a drain plug I believe some did but presumably not in 1970 . I tend to collect other nasty stuff brake fluid, oil , used thinners from brush washings all in a can and take to council tip as has been mentioned
Mike Fairclough

My '71 car has a small screwed in plug in the bottom cross pipe but it dribbles from there so slowly it is next to useless.

Lawrence's neat modified pipe system is definitely the solution needed. Sorry l don't have a photo to post of it.

I used to drain the race car regularly - for cylinder head or engine removal, etc.

Not wanting to waste my lovely Bluecol antifreeze, I would drain it from the drain plug at the back of the block. First remove the plug, then inset a length of suitable tubing into the hole - the thin plastic stuff for the radiator overflow is ideal - and put the other end into a suitable container. Finally, remove the radiator cap (or expansion tank cap) to allow air in and coolant out.
Dave O'Neill 2

As often happens the answer to a question isn't as straight forward as it might at first seem.

Its the additive package that gets my curiosity, I know Guy's approach of basically the various makes of coolant (within their type) are much of a muchness and probably the same for the additive packages but its difficult to know to what extent.

Some say all engine oils are basically the same so stick in any oil going cheap into their engines (g/box, and axles) but then discount the additive packages to any oil. I've not tried but I'm guessing getting full details of additive packages in oil from the manufacturers would get very little details, even having a full list of ingredients doesn't tell the full story.

Perhaps there's very little variance of additive packages in most coolants but there could be more variance than we think (or of course there might not).

I know the list of ingredients for a cake but couldn't bake a decent one to save my life, same with beer basically same ingredients but so many average to poor beers about which make the very good beers outstanding from the rest.
Nigel Atkins

Sorry Nigel, your comment that l think they are all much the same relates to my comment on rust converters. I have said no such thing about coolant/ antifreeze. Or oils, for that matter.

Apology Guy, my poor memory mixing threads there, I must admit I thought you put so in this thread but I was obviously wrong mixing it up with the rust converter thread.

I do usually check my memory but thought I knew this time, I assumed and made an ass of myself.
Nigel Atkins

;-) !!

Good thinking Dave forgot that was even there and now I remember my other engine has a brass tap there.
Mike Fairclough


Out of interest what tests do the lab do o the antifreeze.

Is it just the concentration or additive stength or do they look for engine component shedding metal?
Eddie Cairns

Not sure Eddie. I have the impression they look for wear product and corrosion residues but I've never seen the report yet. I do recall about 10 years ago the lab flagged up oil contamination but I was working in the Middle East at the time and can't remember what was done about it.

We do something similar with oil sampling every other month since they adopted CBM (condition based maintenance) and the reports are very comprehensive. Previously we did oil changes every 6 months regardless, which was expensive with nearly 80 litres of oil in each engine, but the periodic sampling found fuel in the oil on one of the boats last year which led us to find a cracked injector link pipe.

Its hard to argue with tried and true on this side of the water its the old standard green always works and always has.

I rarely change mine with no issues as at somepoint i got to drain it for some reason or another

Make sure your system is spotless clean 4life and glyco are NOT compatable to each other
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This thread was discussed between 18/05/2017 and 22/05/2017

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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