Can You Use Car Coolant In A Dirt Bike?

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Like any machine with any moving parts or runs for extended periods, the dirt bike will eventually heat up. As its temperature rises, the engine starts to degrade in its health, and eventually, it will seize up, which will prevent it from running and even starting.

Hence, it is integral for bike owners, especially dirt bike owners, to regulate their bike’s temperature. While there are many ways of doing this, the easiest way is to ensure regular oil changes and proper coolant levels.

While you could just as easily purchase bike coolant, you may have been tempted and thought that can you use car coolant in a dirt bike.

The simple answer is yes, you can add certain car-based coolants in a dirt bike, but only if they do not contain silicates.

I will be going over the types of coolants you can add to a dirt bike and any relevant information you may need, so make sure to read the entire article.

A Complete Guide Of Coolants In Dirt Bikes

Find out what coolant do your dirt bike can take

While dirt bikes may be more versatile and durable than their on-the-road counterparts, this only means that the internal components of the dirt bike will require even more maintenance to provide you with the best performance your bike can reach.

While you can opt for using car coolant instead of motorcycle coolant, depending on the brand of car coolant you are adding to the dirt bike, you could cause many different problems if that particular brand contains silicates and has ethylene glycol antifreeze.

Below I will discuss everything you need to know about the coolant for your precious dirt bike.

Motorcycle Coolants Vs. Car coolants

There are very few differences when talking about motorcycle coolants and car coolants. Most coolants have the same ingredients and components, making them safe for use in both dirt bikes and cars.

However, certain components are present inside car coolants that can be unsafe for your engine. This difference boils down to two things:

  • The presence of Ethylene Glycol Antifreeze
  • The absence of Silicates

Car coolants contain ethylene glycol compounds which are good enough to be used inside the dirt bikes as this compound plays an important role in keeping the engine cooled.

The car coolant should also avoid the presence of silicates which can actively damage the components of the dirt bike.

If your car coolant fulfills these two requirements, you can add it to the dirt bike; however, many experts recommend a dedicated motorcycle coolant for a dirt bike.

Why Should You Avoid Silicates?

The presence of silicates is the biggest reason why most car coolants cannot be used in dirt bikes.

This is because the silicates are substances that can actively damage the magnesium and aluminum parts present inside your motorcycle, leading to corrosion and engine damage.

The presence of silicates can also cause damage to the water pump’s seals as the abrasive particles eat them away. It also causes a buildup of gel.

This reduced the heat transfer from the engine castings and caused the temperature sensors to become faulty, resulting in even more heating of the dirt bike.

What also makes silicates unappealing to use is that they are very unfriendly to the environment, so you should avoid them entirely if possible.

Changing The Coolant In Your Dirt Bike

Now that you know the difference between car coolant and motorcycle coolant and the best coolant for your motorcycle, it only makes sense that you should be able to change the current coolant of a dirt bike and have good knowledge of how the components of dirt bikes work.

You must know how to drain any leftover coolant and change it yourself if the bike starts to overheat. The process itself is very simple, so you should be able to do it without any difficulties and should be able to do it rather quickly.

It will also help you keep the entire bike retaining its fresh feel and functionality.

Here, I will list the steps to change the bike coolant:

  1. Make sure the engine is cooled
  2. Drain the coolant
  3. Recycle the old coolant
  4. Add new coolant
  5. Fill the container and remove air bubbles
  6. Replace the radiator cap
  7. Check for leaks

You start by making sure that the bike is switched off and is cool. You should make this a habit before performing any maintenance on your bike.

  1. Before adding your new coolant, you must make sure any remaining coolant has been removed, as mixing coolants is not ideal.
  2. Start by placing a bucket under the drain bolt of the dirt bike and opening it.
  3. This will cause any remaining coolant to come out.
  4. Opening the radiator cap will also provide faster flow and help speed up the process.
  5. Once you think the coolant has been removed, it is best to flush the entire system using distilled water so that you can remove any remnants.
  6. The used coolant you know has in the bucket should be recycled or safely disposed of.
  7. Take the drain bolt of the dirt bike and replace it while adding the new coolant, making sure that nothing leaks out.
  8. Fill the container and make sure there is no air trapped inside. You can do this by tilting the dirt bike slightly to release any trapped air.
  9. Finally, now take a new radiator cap, replace the old one, and tighten it to a close.
  10. Make sure to check for leaks just in case to avoid loss of coolant.
  11. You should be good to take your dirt bike out for a spin.

Which Motorcycle Coolant Should You Buy For Your Dirt Bike?

There are various brands for you to choose from in today’s day and age, each offering different pros and cons. That being said, various types of coolants can be effective depending on your bike type.

In this section of the article, I will go over the comparisons of the different types of coolants you can find on the market as well as list some well-known and good dirt bike coolants for you to consider as car coolants can be a risky choice if proper planning does not go when choosing one.

Inorganic Additive Technology Vs. Organic Acid Technology

Inorganic Additive Technology uses inorganic additives to give your bike a protective film used in traditional coolants.

The only drawback of this is that the effectiveness will reduce over time and need to be changed every two years. This coolant has no detrimental effect on any engine components.

On the other hand, Organic Acid technology is a newer form of coolant that protects the system’s surface.

It prevents the aluminum and other metals that make up the surface from rusting, protecting the entire engine.
This makes this type of coolant last much longer than even antifreeze.

While both of them last a considerable amount of time, the organic acid is better; however, this only means that it will be more expensive to buy.

Water-Based Coolants Vs. Water Free Coolants

Water-based coolants are the cheapest type of coolants available and are pre-mixed with water.

They are, however, very effective at cooling the engine, and you can even make them by yourself by mixing normal water with antifreeze.

Most people recommend this and call it the 50/ 50 method, where you fill half your bike’s coolant container with antifreeze and the rest with water.

I will explain more in-depth further in the article. As the name suggests, water-free coolants are coolants that do not contain water.

They are not corrosive to the engine and last much longer than water-based ones, having a much higher boiling point.

They are also more suited for dirt bikes as they can handle higher revs and more extreme conditions. This makes it much more expensive to get than water-based coolants.

Best Coolants For Dirt Bikes

Keeping in account how long the type of coolant lasts and how much money it can cost you if you are looking for an affordable option, then you should consider water-based coolants.

However, in my opinion, spending the money on water free coolants will be more beneficial in the long run as they will last much longer and offer more engine protection.

If you are unsure which side you want to choose and want to play it safe, you can also get standard antifreeze. Regardless of what you choose, here are some of the best coolant options currently available for dirt bikes:

3 Tips For Using Coolants In Your Dirt Bike

1. Be Careful When Using Water As A Coolant

Water can work as a coolant; many coolants are water-based and prevent the dirt bike from overheating. However, you should take care when using just water.

You should try to use distilled water and make sure that the water does not freeze, especially overnight, as it will cause massive damage to the internal components of the dirt bike.

Water is also less effective as a coolant as it has a fairly low boiling point and can easily start to evaporate when the bike starts to heat up, which will leave your bike without proper coolant.

2. Make Sure That Your Coolant Is Compatible

As explained above, silicates in dirt bikes are extremely detrimental to the health and performance of your engine.

Silicate-based coolants will slowly erode the internal components of your engine and cause various other issues, which will be very costly to fix.

To avoid this, make sure to read the coolant description and avoid the ones with silicates, opting for PropyleneGlycol-based coolants instead, which work well with dirt bikes.

Another thing is to see if the coolant has Ethylene Glycol antifreeze which is also okay for dirt bikes. If you still have difficulty with this, then a quick Google search can help a lot.

3. Make Sure To Have Mixed Antifreeze

Pouring antifreeze directly into your bike can have the opposite effect, resulting in the dirt bike overheating, so make sure that you have a 50/ 50 mix when adding antifreeze into the dirt bike.

This happens because the antifreeze has a lower boiling point that it will reach when the bike starts to heat up.

By adding 50% of it with 50% water, you can lower the freezing point and increase the boiling point, preventing the coolant from boiling away or freezing in colder temperatures.

This also makes it a viable strategy to purchase antifreeze and mix it with water yourself. This allows you to make the antifreeze that you purchased last much longer and provides you with the same level of performance and cooling.


When asked,” can you use car coolant in a dirt bike?” It all falls to whether or not the coolant contains ethylene glycol products and silicates.

The former and the absence of the latter can make your car coolant perfectly viable for being used in a dirt bike. However, if either of the two requirements are not fulfilled, you risk significant engine damage.

Regardless of this, you should be able to choose the best type of coolant available in the market and base it on your preference and whether or not it is good for a dirt bike.

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