Caravan Motorhome Antifreeze Alde Heating
Caravan anitfreeze probably isn’t something you give much thought to. However, our caravan has Alde heating. This is basically central we heating heating for your caravan as opposed to blown air, which is dry. As it contains fluid, it will be prone to freezing in cold weather, hence the need for antifreeze. ( This is all also true for Motorhomes )
After we had our first service, the engineer said, “Just to warn you next year’s service will need the antifreeze changing in the heating”. “Ok” I replied. He continued, “just letting you know as it is just about double the cost of your current service. “
I just nodded and carried on with my life, not really giving antifreeze a second thought. Now I’ve just booked this year’s service I remember the antifreeze conversation. So I headed to twitter, it’s a place of refuge and somewhere I can get things off my chest, so to speak. Twitter is like Facebook without the lunatics..
What followed was an interesting conversation with a few fellow caravanners. Several questions cropped up that I 1, didn’t know the answer too and 2. I’d never even though to ask.
- Why is is so expensive?
- Is it the same as car antifreeze?
- What types of antifreeze are there?
- How much do you need?
- Why do new caravan have antifreeze that only lasts 2 years?
- How do you check how strong the antifreeze is in the system?
- What are the different colours?
- Why are there different coloured antifreezes?
- How often do you actually need to change it?
…and so on. I thought I’d do some research. So I hopped onto YouTube when I really should have been getting some sleep.
I’ve read more than is healthy about antifreeze and you get A LOT of conflicting information, even from manufacturers of the stuff. It also seems to me that certain things are said to confuse, so eventually you think, oh I’ll just get it done. A bit like the MTPLM upgrade kit that I spoke about some time ago. You can’t quite figure out why you need it, so you get it, just incase.
Different Coloured Antifreeze
All antifreeze is clear and manufacturers add dye. There isn’t a standard, according to Alde, great!. Although I’d read that caravans and motorhomes are initially filled with blue antifreeze that lasts two years.
When topping up coolant, you should use the same colour that’s currently in there. But, this doesn’t mean that it’s the same “type”. I can see this turning into my rant about gas connectors tightening and loosening the wrong way and some smart arse explains why, whilst calling me a dangerous idiot. Still it’s the price you pay for trying to help.
So, the advice is to top up with the same colour but NEVER mix types and just because they are the same colour doesn’t mean they are the same type. Come on, help us out here! Naturally you’ll read mixing types will bring the wrath of, whoever the God of coolant is, meaning your pump and every other moving part for a 6 miles radius “may” be damaged! But I also assume may not?!
Alde recommend that you refill with 5 year lasting pink antifreeze. Wait a minute, you just said the colour had no effect? So already I’m thinking, “This is confusing, I’ll just pay some guy (local dealer) to do it…”
Alde themselves help with the colour myth by suggesting blue is 2 year and pink is 5, which in a way is the case, but not because blue is always 2 year stuff.
Antifreeze Standards, What Standards?
G13, G12++ what the heck does that mean?
G13 contains silicate additives which make it more suited for long term use as it’s kinder to metals, well, aluminium, cast iron and magnesium alloys.
G12 is better for older systems such as copper brass etc, so not suitable for caravan heating systems, unless you’ve used copper pipes? 🙂
G13 has the same “exceptional performance” as G12++ (so I’ve read) but….
G13 is better for the environment, or so I’ve read as it made using glycerin instead of glycol, but could probably still strip the skin from a racoon in less time than it takes to peel an orange.(Proved by science 🙂 ) This is not environmentally friendly stuff, you’d imagine, still as long as we’re warm and toastie on those long winter nights. It would be worse we could be taking a trans Atlantic flight to talk about climate change!
What If I Don’t Get Antifreeze Changed?
Naturally those with newer motorhomes and caravans are “forced” to get it changed as their warranty is at risk if you don’t. I guess in the same way that servicing your caravan yourself isn’t good enough for warranty purposes, I assume changing the antifreeze would be the same. However, if your caravan / motorhome is our of warranty, you can do it yourself and save a bit in the process. There are a few YouTube videos available, I’ll add these to the bottom of this article for you convenience.
What IS Antifreeze AKA Coolant?
Obviously it stops things freezing, I believe it was big in the wine industry in the 1970s, although I might have made that up.
It’s pretty awful stuff, please don’t drink it. It needs to be added to your heating systems with at least a 50/50 mix. That’s 50% antifeeze 50% water. But wait, not just any water, oh no, that would be far to simple, and of course cheaper! Read on…
It’s suggested a 50/50 mixture. Now if you read about car antifreeze, just pour in the old tap water, it’s fine, you could even go to your local stream, yep glug away my son. With a Caravan or Motorhome? Nope it needs to water from the pee of a Unicorn. If you can’t get that, deionised water will work, or as they would put it “clean water”, or guess what? Yep everything will corrode and your family will be cursed with 7 years bad luck.
Why Do New Caravans Have 2 Year Antifreeze In?
So, the problem is, after some research, Caravan / Motorhome manufacturers have been mixing antifreeze with tap water. I assume the water in Bristol isn’t that “clean”! I’m not even sure you can buy 2 year lifespan antifreeze, what is this stuff. I’ll tell you what it is, it’s CHEAP!
Alde recommends premixed G13 which has a 5 year lifespan. As of this year (2020) caravan’s will be filled with G13, hence lasting 5 years, as opposed to 2 years previously.
Can I Mix 2 Year Lifespan with 5 Year or Vice-Versa
Here’s a quote from Alde:
“Bailey use a blue, silicate-containing ethylene glycol antifreeze as standard, with 2 year corrosion protection. You can safely top this up with VAG G12++ or G13 spec antifreeze (magenta in colour), although it will be cheaper and more convenient for most users to pick up a litre of the blue antifreeze above from their local fuel station.”
If you have 2 year old stuff in there, flush it out and replace with G13 magenta fluid.
CaravanVlogger’s Antifreeze Vlog
A Useful Video
Have a look at Bob Earnshaw’s video, this probably explains why it’s an expensive part of a service.
Does Mine Need Replacing?
If you’re out of warranty, would you really bother changing it every 2-5 years if you really don’t need to? Below are some bestselling coolant testers on amazon. Either look to get one of these, or if not sure, just change it.
- calibrated for glycol antifreezes
- Disc type tester checks condition of coolant antifreeze (hot or cold)
- Freeze protection level indicated by the number of the 6 large coloured discs which float in the sample
- Easy to read temperature table on a sturdy plastic body
- Antifreeze and coolant tester
- For Ethylene Glycol
- Can be used warm or cold
- Ideal for use in winter or summer helps to avoid freeze-ups or overheating.
- Plastic body with rubber tube
- Tests ethylene glycol strength with engine hot or cold.
- Composite body and rubber bulb for workshop durability.
- Compression pump with pressure gauge for easy pressure check
- Suitable for checking the pressure of radiators and cooling circuits
- Pressure release valve for easy depressurization
- 13 different plugs for connecting to radiators and expansion tanks
- Includes pump with pressure gauge, thermometer, chrome caps, threads, connectors and briefcase
- 1.[ Antifreeze Refractometer ] Designed for measuring coolant and antifreeze based on ethylene glycol or propylene glycol ,battery fluid condition and screenwash antifreeze (windshield washer fluid) based on ethanol as well as on isopropyl alcohol. And check the urea concentration in AdBlue.
- 2.[ Measuring Range ] Battery fluid 1.10~1.40kg/l ;Propylene Glycol: -50°C -0°C ; Ethylene Glycol: -50°C -0°C ;AdBlue: 30 to 35%;Screenwash/SRF1:-40~0°C.
- 3.[ Easy to use ] Place 2 - 3 drops of sample onto the prism, and then look through the eyepiece for the results.
- 4.[ Convenient to store ] Compact in size and light in weight, packed with a plastic case, convenient to store and carry around.
- 5.[ Application ] This tool is used worldwide by truck and automotive technicians to ensure proper dilution.
- Easy to read indicator and designed for the popular modern Ethylene Glycol antifreeze.
- Number of floating discs indicates strength of coolant.
- Tests at hot and cold temperatures.
- Reads in Celsius and Fahrenheit.
- Floating orange disc shows over protection and loss of efficiency.Bulb is Black, 6 discs
- Tests modern propylene glycol coolant antifreeze, hot or cold.
- Protection level is indicated by the number of the five large coloured discs which float in the sample.
- Easy-to-read temperature table on the virtually unbreakable plastic body.
- Pressure sensor tester also for filling cooling systems, suitable for all common vehicle types.
- Hand pump generates via vehicle-specific adapter on the radiator or radiator. Compensation tank overpressure in the system and allows pressure indicator to check tightness due to overpressure in the system, leaks can be found by visual inspection if pressure is lost.
- Professional colour-coded manometer provides a safe, accurate and simple test.
- Hand pressure pump with 0-35 psi pressure gauge and push-button pressure valve, temperature display.
- Comes ordered in a plastic case.
- Ethanediol (ethylene glycol): 0 ~ 50℃ & Propanediol (propylene glycol): 0 ~ 50 ℃.
- Battery acid from 1.10 to 1.30 g / ml & AdBlue: 30 to 35%.
- High quality, zero line adjustable visual sharpness setting at the eyepiece.
- In hard plastic box include Mini screwdriver for adjusting and pipette,replacement pipettes available.
- Universal device with new scale, which ensures a more accurate readability.
- 【Fast and Accurate】This antifreeze coolant tester is fast and accurate, easy to read scales and hands. The tester is precisely calibrated and has an easy-to-read indicator.
- 【Professional Use】This antifreeze coolant tester is calibrated at °C and °F to measure the freezing point of winter protection and the boiling point of summer protection.
- 【Durable】This antifreeze coolant tester is made of durable materials and is resistant to elements.
- 【Scope of Application】This antifreeze coolant tester is suitable for testing hot or cold batteries on 6 volt and 12 volt systems.
- 【Service Guarantee】Please feel free to buy, we are very professional sellers, if there are any problems during the use, please feel free to email us, we will try our best to help you solve the problem, thank you for your patronage.
*Last update on 2020-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API