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Ford goes orange

By Jim Taylor, MACS ACTION Magazine

The Ford owners’ and enthusiasts forums on the Internet are awash in questions and discussions of Ford Motor Company’s recently-announced gradual changeover to a standard coolant for all their engines. Some owners are concerned that their favorite car company has crossed over to “the dark side” and adopted General Motors Dex-Cool, a sure sign of an automotive apocalypse. Have they?
Well, yes and no, but more  No than Yes. Here’s a look at the what and the why.
Ford refers to their recommended product as E-OAT, with the E representing the fact that the product is already in use in Europe. The OAT designates the familiar term “organic acid technology” and refers to a product generally free of silicates, nitrates and borates in the chemistry. The industry in general, and GM in particular began to move to a new chemistry several years ago.
OAT coolants pose a good news – bad news situation for a manufacturer. They can provide longer service life, but, containing acid, they can also attack seals and gaskets not made to withstand them. That’s why mixing coolants types (colors) isn’t recommended on most cars; you may introduce a problem into a system that can’t handle it.
The MSDS for Ford’s Motorcraft coolant reveals that it is mostly ethylene glycol, with 2-5% 2-EHA (you may see that on the jug’s label) added. The extra chemical is a salt form of the organic compound 2ethylhexanoic acid and you’ll find almost the exact mixture in a Dex-Cool product give or take a few minor variations.

So has Ford gone all GM-ish on us? Mostly not, because most people forget that “Dex-Cool” is actually a specification, not a distinct product. Any product produced for GM and meeting the performance spec can be called by that name, and many chemical companies produce qualifying product. Moreover, Ford acknowledges this right in their Motorcraft parts catalog. Note the last line!
Specialty Orange Engine Coolant with Bittering Agent
Orange-colored, longer-life, ethylene glycol-based, engine coolant for use in gasoline and diesel engines. Provides year-round antifreeze, anti-boil and corrosion protection
A 50/50 mixture of coolant and distilled water provides freeze protection down to -34°F (-37°C) and boiling protection up to 265°F (129°C)
Use only when specified. Do not use this product in systems originally equipped with any green-colored, conventional engine coolant such as Motorcraft® Premium Engine Coolant, meeting Ford Specification ESE-M97B44-A, or with the yellow-colored, longer-life Motorcraft® Premium Gold Engine Coolant, meeting Ford Specification WSS-M97B51-A1, or with the dark green-colored Motorcraft® Specialty Green Engine Coolant, meeting Ford Specification WSS-M97B55-A
Meets the requirements of WSS-M97B44-D, GM 6277M and ASTM D 3306
Compatible with DEX-COOL® engine coolants
But also, as you see, Ford is concerned that this specialty orange coolant not be used elsewhere. That 2-EHA additive is also a “plasticizer” – it’s capable of making things soft or pliable, which is what the word plastic means in science. Anyway, that’s not a good idea where gaskets and seals are concerned; most techs would agree that a gasket shouldn’t become softer than intended. So, the new Ford orange is being phased-in after each engine family has been revisited and updated to accommodate the fluid. Got it?
There’s also another effect to be considered; the 2-EHA acts as a cleanser on the internal metal parts of the system, including the inside of the block passages. No problem there, a clean system is a happy system. But—and this is a big deal—if the coolant level drops and air replaces the coolant in those passages, the shiny clean surfaces begin to rust almost instantly. When (or if) the correct coolant level is restored, the rust gets washed off and generates a brown sludge in the system. Seen that before?
Ford is serious about maintaining proper coolant levels. Even the owner’s manual says:
Checking engine coolant
The concentration and level of engine coolant should be checked at the intervals listed in Scheduled Maintenance Information. The coolant concentration should be maintained at 50/50 coolant and distilled water, which equates to a freeze point of -34°F (-36°C). Coolant concentration testing is possible with a hydrometer or antifreeze tester. The level of coolant should be maintained at the FULL COLD level or within the COLD FILL RANGE in the coolant reservoir. If the level falls below, add coolant per the instructions in the Adding engine coolant section. Your vehicle was factory-filled with a 50/50 engine coolant and water concentration. If the concentration of coolant falls below 40% or above 60%, the engine parts could become damaged or not work properly.

A 50/50 mixture of coolant and water provides the following:
Freeze protection down to -34°F (-36°C).
Boiling protection up to 265°F (129°C).
Protection against rust and other forms of corrosion.
Proper function of calibrated gauges.
When the engine is cold, check the level of the engine coolant in the reservoir.
• The engine coolant should be at the FULL COLD level or within the COLD FILL RANGE as listed on the engine coolant reservoir (depending upon application).
• Refer to Scheduled Maintenance Information for service interval schedules. If the engine coolant has not been checked at the recommended interval, the engine coolant reservoir may become low or empty. If the reservoir is low or empty, add engine coolant to the reservoir. Refer to Adding engine coolant in this chapter.
Note: Automotive fluids are not interchangeable; do not use engine coolant/antifreeze or windshield washer fluid outside of its specified function and vehicle location.
Adding engine coolant
When adding coolant, make sure it is a 50/50 mixture of engine coolant and distilled water. Add the mixture to the coolant reservoir, when the engine is cool, until the appropriate fill level is obtained. If coolant is filled to the COLD FILL RANGE or FULL COLD level when the engine is not cool, the system will remain underfilled.
The Bottom Line: Don’t mix coolants by type or color, particularly (now) on Ford engines. Use what the car was designed for, and if you’re not sure look it up.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, click here for more information.
You can E-mail us at or visit to find a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Visit to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

One response to “Ford goes orange”

  1. tireguards says:

    nice artikel 😀