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Old 12-20-2013, 09:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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hypothetical: car ran out of coolant mid trip. solution?

you're driving point a to point b. unbeknownst to you, your car is leaking coolant out of somewhere. suddenly your temperature gauge maxes out and your hood is steaming.

you pull over and turn off the car.

you don't know if the leak is new and pouring, or old and dripping.

you have aaa like any sane driver, but insanely want to diy like any mcber.

what would your options be? first thing is probably pop the hood to confirm you're really out of coolant, but what else?
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Old 12-20-2013, 09:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I crashed my car in the winter one time and popped my radiator and drove it home. I had to keep stopping to throw snow on my engine and pack my radiator full of snow also and letting it cool down. It was a cheap beater car and I probably overheated it 10 times on the way home and I swear that car ran better afterwards.

Any fluid will work in your radiator. I don't recommend anything flammable however. Wiper fluid will work, you could pee in it, use water from anything, leftover soda in your car, any fluid will work. As far as the leak, most of the time there isn't a great way to cob it up and fix it. I have wrapped rags around hoses to slow leaks or the good old Duct Tape will work for a bit.
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Old 12-20-2013, 09:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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As stated above. But, until you find the source of the leak, you'll just let any coolant you put back in leak out.

Back in the day, coarse ground black pepper was added to coolant to stop radiator leaks. As it seeped out, it would clog the smaller hole(s) until the leaking stopped.
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Old 12-20-2013, 09:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Silver Seal is great to keep in your vehicle. It is an aluminum like powder in a small tube, it works great, the best radiator hole sealant I have ever used. I have seen it plug holes that you could put a pencil into, you dump it in your cooling system and as the fluid leaks out the powder sticks where the leak is and builds up to clog the hole. Its only a few bucks and can save your butt.
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Old 12-21-2013, 12:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The best side of the road radiator repair was a person using egg whites and water from a ditch. We already knew that the radiator needed to be replaced because of 3 leaks pouring water onto the engine so my friend filled the radiator with ditch water and cracked 3 eggs getting rid of the yolk. The egg whites cooked in the hot water and when we pulled the Rad there was cooked egg sticking out of the holes. God must love fools and slant six Chrysler motors
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Old 12-21-2013, 12:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
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in a pinch coarse ground black pepper can be used as an emergency coolant system repair

and the shootist beat me to it, lol

and remember, plain old water works great as a coolant.
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Old 12-21-2013, 12:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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One important thing to remember. If your temp maxes out, you will want to wait an hour or so(maybe more?) to let the engine cool off.

Cold water+ hot engine= cracked block.
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Old 12-21-2013, 01:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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so the commercial isn't bull****ting? but is there a reason to use water when the gas station probably has coolant?

about how far you can drive with absolutely nothing until you "need" to pull over? what if you go extra slow so the temp never maxes out?

Last edited by heinous; 12-21-2013 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 12-21-2013, 01:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Show me a bottle of "coolant" and I'll show you a mislabled bottle of anti-freeze.

Water with a surfactant additive is the best at keeping an engine cool. As for a cooling system leak just dump water back in it as long as its not leaking bad enough that you can't keep it in.
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Old 12-21-2013, 02:45 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
Washer fluid IS flammable - it's generally partially alcohol, or else it would freeze in cold weather. DO NOT ever use it in a rad.

Don't use leftover soda either - the sugars and other crap that's in them will do a number on pretty much everything in your cooling system.

Plain water is the best thing to do. Otherwise, call a tow-truck and wait.
In a pinch those things will work. I would be much more worried about the alcohol in washer fluid being mildly corrosive rather than flammable, I have never seen wiper fluid has very very low alcohol content or you would see hobos drinking it its like 99cents a gallon. I will try lighting some on fire this weekend I have never tried. I know cutting steel barrels that once contained them is a no no unless they are properly vented and/or washed.

containers that hold washer fluid can be dangerous but that is due to the alcohol soaking into them, and only if they are exposed to an open flame, which is definetly not present in a water jacket or radiator.

I was not suggesting to substitute washer fluid for antifreeze unless you had no other option. I would rather be able to limp my vehicle home if I could than pay a massive tow bill, tows don't come cheap.

Last edited by crazyorigin; 12-21-2013 at 02:51 AM.
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