Coolant Color in 2003 Ford Focus

I continue to be confused about coolant colors in today's automobiles. I have a 2003 Ford Focus Wagon. The owner's manual says:
"Add Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant
(yellow-colored), VC-7A (VC-7B in Oregon), meeting Ford Specification WSS-M97B51A1."
"Do not add/mix an orange-colored, extended life coolant such as Motorcraft Speciality Orange Engine Coolant, VC-2 (US) or CXC-209 (Canada), meeting Ford specification WSS-M97B44D with the factory-filled coolant. Mixing Motorcraft Speciality Orange Engine Coolant or any orange-colored extended life product with your factory filled coolant can result in degraded corrosion protection."
Now, I saw some Prestone coolant at Autozone the other day. I believe it was a 50/50 pre-mixed extended life coolant (in a yellow bottle). It said "All Makes All Models" The bottle said it is compatible with ANY antifreeze/coolant, regardless of color, and can be added to any antifreeze/coolant in ANY make or model of car or light duty truck on the road today.
So, is this true? Can I really use this to top off when needed?
Thanks! Bryan
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Bryan,
Yes, it is a confusing issue that I learned a lot about last time that I changed mine. First, colors do not mean everything. Some long life coolants are green. Alla re just dyes the maker adds. There are 3 types. Conventional ethylene gycol, conventional propylene glycol (low tox) and the newer organic acid-based addtive coolants. The gylcols in all do the main work of lowering the freezing point and raising the boiling point but do not protect the metals from corrosion. That is the job of the additives. The older additives are silicate-based and the newer long life ones organic acid technology (OAT). Some feel that the silicates can come out of solution, be abrasive and damage water pump seals. This and longer life are the main attraction of the OAT ones.
The deal is that if you add some of the older silicate coolant to a cooling system filled with the OAT coolant, you lower it's life to the old one, say 2 years. I think this explains the Ford warning of mixing. You can add the new stuff to the old but it won't increase the life of the coolant. I would paly it safe and either flush and upgrade or continue to use what is recommened.
If you do upgrade to the new OAT-based coolants, throughly flush the system to get out the silicate-based stuff. . If you omly drain the radiator and not the block, you will not get the 5 year protection. I did this on my ZX3 which had the silicate coolant and plan on changing it every 3-4 years. BTW, I used the new Prestone "all brands" stuff. It is yello/green. I am familiar wit this long-life coolant, with a Toyota (red) coolant that I thought was priced hight at $15/gal 3 years ago. But I did not want to change to another brand. I know someone who uses Decool in all his cars, domestic and foreign for years and has had no problems.
I have heard that the GM Dexcool (orange) can gel up if it runs low. I do not know if this is true of all the OAT-based coolants.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions. If you want to play it totally safe, go to the Ford dealer and get the one you already have in the car now. I hope that eventually, they all settle on the same standard, like it used to be.
Gary
Bryan K. Walton wrote:

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Very much so. Thanks for the reply.
-Bryan
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Bryan,
Yes, it is a confusing issue that I learned a lot about last time that I changed mine. First, colors do not mean everything. Some long life coolants are green. Alla re just dyes the maker adds. There are 3 types. Conventional ethylene gycol, conventional propylene glycol (low tox) and the newer organic acid-based addtive coolants. The gylcols in all do the main work of lowering the freezing point and raising the boiling point but do not protect the metals from corrosion. That is the job of the additives. The older additives are silicate-based and the newer long life ones organic acid technology (OAT). Some feel that the silicates can come out of solution, be abrasive and damage water pump seals. This and longer life are the main attraction of the OAT ones.
The deal is that if you add some of the older silicate coolant to a cooling system filled with the OAT coolant, you lower it's life to the old one, say 2 years. I think this explains the Ford warning of mixing. You can add the new stuff to the old but it won't increase the life of the coolant. I would paly it safe and either flush and upgrade or continue to use what is recommened.
If you do upgrade to the new OAT-based coolants, throughly flush the system to get out the silicate-based stuff. . If you omly drain the radiator and not the block, you will not get the 5 year protection. I did this on my ZX3 which had the silicate coolant and plan on changing it every 3-4 years. BTW, I used the new Prestone "all brands" stuff. It is yello/green. I am familiar wit this long-life coolant, with a Toyota (red) coolant that I thought was priced hight at $15/gal 3 years ago. But I did not want to change to another brand. I know someone who uses Decool in all his cars, domestic and foreign for years and has had no problems.
I have heard that the GM Dexcool (orange) can gel up if it runs low. I do not know if this is true of all the OAT-based coolants.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions. If you want to play it totally safe, go to the Ford dealer and get the one you already have in the car now. I hope that eventually, they all settle on the same standard, like it used to be.
Gary
Bryan K. Walton wrote:

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