Is Motorcycle Coolant the Same as Car Coolant?

Is Motorcycle Coolant the Same as Car Coolant?

Coolant keeps your motorcycle engine temperature within a safe range. This is a critical role that keeps your bike performance top-notch at all times.

That said, the coolant requires a regular change to continue working correctly.

As a new motorcycle owner, you might have heard folks saying that coolant is just coolant, and you can use car coolant also on your bike.

BEFORE you can use car coolant, however, read this article to discover whether it’s the same as motorcycle coolant. And whether it’s safe to coolant in a motorcycle.

Is motorcycle coolant the same as car coolant?

It depends on the coolant in question. Some coolants feature the same list of ingredients as motorcycle coolants and are therefore safe for use in motorcycle engines.

However, some car coolant reservoir contains ingredients that are considered unsafe for your motorcycle engine. It’s, therefore, essential to check the list of components of a car coolant before using it on your bike.


To find out if a car coolant is safe for your bike, check these two MAIN things:

  • Presence of ethylene glycol antifreeze: the car coolant must contain ethylene glycol compound for it to be used in motorcycle overflow tank. This compound plays the critical role of keeping your engine cooled.
  • Absence of silicates: the car coolant should NOT contain any silicates or phosphates in its list of ingredients. These substances can damage the magnesium and aluminum parts of your motorcycle engine by causing corrosion. What’s more, silicates are bad for your seals and aren’t eco-friendly.

Because not all car coolants meet the two requirements above, you can’t just go using any regular coolant on your motorcycle. The wrong coolant choice can adversely affect your bike performance and even cause costly damages to the engine.

As experts always recommend, it’s wise to stick to the motorcycle-specific coolant (i.e., the coolants specially formulated for use with your motorcycle engines). These will give you peace of mind knowing that you’re using the right coolant for your bike.

So, what’s the right motorcycle coolant? Let’s discuss this next…

How to identify the right motorcycle coolant?

Knowing how to identify the correct and the best coolant for motorcycle is an essential skill for all motorcycle owners. In this section, we’ll discuss how you can identify the best coolant for motorbikes like a pro.


Propylene glycol coolants are considered the SAFEST, most effective coolants for motorcycles…though the ethylene glycol coolants are also as safe and effective on your motorcycle engine.

However, you need to keep in mind that under no circumstances should you ever mix propylene glycol and ethylene glycol coolants. The good news is that these coolants come with separate colors, making it easy to identify each and avoid mixing them.

WARNING: ethylene glycol is considered a highly poisonous substance to humans. The propylene glycol, on the other hand, is not poisonous if ingested. This makes it the perfect choice for use around kids and pets.

As we mentioned earlier, the best coolant for your bike shouldn’t contain any phosphates and silicates. These ingredients have adverse effects on the water seals.

They also tend to form an insulating layer on your cooling system. If this layer gets thicker, it limits the amount of heat transferred from the bike engine to the coolant, increasing the risk such as, motorcycle engine overheats.

Before you purchase any coolant, carefully go through its list of ingredients to ensure it doesn’t contain these harmful ingredients.

Different types of motorcycle coolants

When choosing the right motorcycle coolant, you’ll also come across two main categories—water-based and water-free ones.

Water-based coolants

The water-based coolants are simply coolants that contain. They come pre-mixed with water or require you to do the mixing on your own. If you prefer to do the mixing on your own, then you must make sure you use distilled water and mix the two in 50/50 proportions.


Most motorcycle riders prefer this type of coolant because it’s highly affordable and works well to keep your engine temperature in check.

Unfortunately, the coolants might not be ideal for applications such as racing, as they tend to feature a lower boiling point.

Also, some of these coolants lack the anti-corrosion agent. These can leave your engine and parts of your cooling system susceptible to corrosion and damages due to the presence of water.

Water-free coolants

As the name suggests, these coolants contain no water. These coolants are more suitable for extreme conditions such as racing as they come packed with ingredients with higher boiling point and heat capacity than the water-based models.

Another benefit of using these coolants is that they don’t contain any water, so you don’t have to worry about possible corrosion on your cooling system parts or the engine.

One more benefit of these coolants…they tend to last longer than the water-based ones. This is sure to save you cash on regular coolant replacement.

However, they come at a higher cost than water-based coolants, which explains why they are less popular among motorcycle riders.

Can you switch from one motorcycle coolant to another?

It’s entirely possible to switch between different motorcycle coolants. But keep in mind that this involves a lot of work to make an effective coolant swap.

First of all, you need to through flush your motorcycle cooling system to ensure you COMPLETELY get rid of the old coolant.


Unless you really need to change the coolant you use on your motorcycle to a new one, we recommend sticking to the old one as it can save you a lot of time and hassle.

An easier path for those who wish to switch coolants involves looking for a coolant that’s compatible with the current coolant.


We caution you against using regular/car coolants on your motorcycle as they can end up causing costly damages to your bike and even affecting its performance. If you must use a car coolant on your bike, then make sure it contains ethylene glycol antifreeze and doesn’t contain silicates in its list ingredients.

For the best engine cooling results, we strongly recommend you to stick to coolants specially formulated for motorcycles.

joshua mattie

Joshua D. Mattie

My motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. I rode motocross as a teenager & into my 20's when I worked as a mechanic. This helped me to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now I'm building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels!