Can You Mix Universal Coolant with Dexcool?

If you are thinking of mixing universal coolant with Dex-Cool – You should stop and read this first to get your answer regarding can you mix universal coolant with dexcool?

Some factors are essential to consider when mixing these fluids and will be examined in this article. Usually, mixing them is very easy. It is generally in a 50-50 proportion; shake them together and pour them into your radiator, which works perfectly.

However, General Motors has noted that mixing universal antifreeze and dex cool will reduce the integrity of Dex-cool by more than 70% and require you to change fluids at regular intervals.

can you mix universal coolant with dexcool

Can you mix universal coolant with dexcool?

Today most universal coolant/antifreeze is compatible with Dex-cool than older green coolants. That said, wrongly mixing dexcool and universal antifreeze will produce a gel-like substance that can destroy the engine or cooling system and cause overheating.

The obvious question is how to know what universal coolants are compatible with Dex cool. Most car owners before 1998 couldn’t mix both coolants without causing any harm to the vehicle. But cars manufactured in late 1990 forward actually require a 50-50 mixture between the two fluids.

Personally, I have used the Dex-cool on my Silverado, and it worked fine. However, it was labeled Dex-compatible, which assured me all would be fine. Always ask a professional mechanic if you still need clarification about whether to mix the fluids into your radiator.

The effect of wrongly mixing dexcool and green antifreeze greatly damages many components of your cooling system. In addition, they will require coolant flushing or, worst cases, total replacement of the cooling system, which is very expensive.

Can you mix water with dexcool?

It is not ideal for mixing water with dex cool, although distilled water can work; we don’t recommend it. Pure antifreeze boils faster than water, but combined reduces the water’s freezing point and increases the boiling point. In composition, antifreeze is 1:1 water to antifreeze.

We mainly use antifreeze like dex cool instead of water because it will freeze at 320 and boil at 2120. The additive found in dex cool prevents these from freezing or boiling.

What happens after mixing dex cool with antifreeze?

Mixing dex cool with antifreeze wrongly could form a slimy gel-like fluid that prevents antifreeze circulation and causes the engine not to cool properly. These gel-like substances can damage the radiator and other components and will often require flushing to fix it.

In some cases, people have reported coolant leaks. However, GM stated that allowing air to enter the engine environment results in chemical changes to the coolant, leading to gasket leaks. GM resolved this issue by using a different material for their gaskets.

Main ingredients of dex-cool

  1. Ethylene Glycol: This is the primary base fluid in Dex-Cool, as it is in most antifreeze products. Ethylene glycol helps to lower the freezing point and raise the boiling point of the coolant, protecting against freezing and boiling over in a wide range of temperatures.
  2. Organic Acid Technology (OAT): Dex-Cool is formulated using organic acid technology, which primarily differentiates it from traditional coolants. OAT includes various organic acids (such as 2-ethylhexanoic acid, and azoles) that provide corrosion protection for the engine’s internal components. These organic acids are less corrosive to metals and last longer than the inorganic acids used in traditional antifreeze.
  3. Deionized Water: Like other coolants, Dex-Cool is typically mixed with deionized water at a 50/50 ratio for vehicle use. The deionized water helps to dissipate heat and transport the ethylene glycol and additives throughout the cooling system.

Benefits of dex-cool

  • Longer Service Life: Dex-Cool is designed to last up to 5 years or 150,000 miles, significantly longer than 2 years or 30,000 miles typical of traditional antifreeze.
  • Corrosion Protection: The organic acids in Dex-Cool provide excellent protection against corrosion, particularly with aluminum components, which are increasingly common in modern engines.
  • Reduced Silicate and Phosphate: Dex-Cool is formulated without silicates and phosphates, present in many traditional coolants. These substances can form deposits in the cooling system that may lead to overheating.

Dexcool vs. Universal coolant

Although these two fluids perform similar jobs, they are very distinct in color, composition, and how they interact with engine materials. The following are differences between dexcool vs regular antifreeze:


Their color can be individually identified. For example, most universal or regular antifreeze comes in clear green or blue, while dex-cool is usually orange or red. The regular green antifreeze interacts with rust and changes color to let you know when it needs replacements. However, it is pretty tricky to tell with Dex-cool.


Dex cool and regular coolants are different when it comes to composition properties. On the other hand, regular antifreeze is composed of water, ethylene glycol, and methanol. This mixture helps to prevent overheating in the engine.

In addition, Dex-cool is not typically glycol-based and instead contains phosphates, silicates, and organic acids.


In addition to color and composition, one can differentiate dex-cool and regular coolant by how they interact with engine materials, specifically aluminum in the engine. Dex-cool does a great job of minimizing corrosion in the engine parts for a longer time. Regular antifreeze changes color, although it doesn’t change color in aluminum engines. Most times, if not regularly changed, the engine may corrode.

What antifreeze is compatible with Dexcool?

You should check the antifreeze label if you are looking for antifreeze compatible with Dex cool. Usually, labels clearly state if it is compatible with dex cool. For instance, Zerex Coolant has stated that their coolants are compatible with orange dex cool. Always consult the label and user manual.

What color is Dex-Cool antifreeze?

The Dex-cool antifreeze comes in red/ orange color. Dex-cool ingredients include a combination of phosphate, silicates, and other compositions that influence its color. For instance, methanol was in many Dex-cool products.

Also, other chemicals that influence the color of dex cool include ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, found in some dex-cool, which have antifreeze components. Other inhibitors and additives are also included.

What happens if you put the wrong coolant in your car?

Using the wrong coolant in your car can hinder the radiator’s general performance, resulting in corrosion. In addition, the wrong cooler may cause overheating that destroys the cooling system’s protective layer, making it thinner and destroying the cylinder gasket, hose, and water pump.

Furthermore, in 2008 a dexcool lawsuit was brought against General Motors, claiming that dexcool factory-filled vehicles degraded the intake manifold gasket and other engine parts. It claimed that dex-cool formed a rusty gel-like sludge that clogged the engine systems and resulted in overheating.

The best way to fix using the wrong coolant in your car is to flush the cooling system and refill it with the correct coolant. It should stop overheating and other symptoms. If it persists, then it may be that the operating fan or other components are damaged.

dexcool vs regular antifreeze


Before you mix the universal coolant with Dexcool, ensure your vehicle is Dexcool-compatible. If you notice the mixture causes an adverse reaction or forms a jelly-like substance, get it to a mechanic to flush the entire system.

Also, it is essential to note that according to General Motors, diluting Dex-cool with other regular coolants could tamper with the integrity of the Dex-cool coolant and require more fluid change than usual. So, for being clearer about “can you mix universal coolant with dexcool?” you should consult your car manual.

Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am Akindayini Temiloluwa, an automotive expert writer and car enthusiast. I have over three years of experience in the automotive writing niche and have completed over 300 pieces of content from 50 projects. I have vast knowledge and skill in vehicle repairing, all mechanical work, car upgrades and maintenance. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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