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  #1  
Old 10-11-2012, 08:35 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 5
Exclamation Will running a car without antifreeze/coolant destroy my engine?

Hello,

I'm new to the forums but I've also looked around on the internet for a possible answer to my question, yet I'd like to ask you all. So, fully story time, I believe.

About two days ago, I started my car and it sounded a little different than usual, but I figured that was simply just because I was running low on gas, so I paid it no attention. However, after running errands, I arrived home and turned off my engine as I usually do. Yet, this time, when I got out of the car, I noticed humming coming from my engine, which my car had never done before. I opened up the hood and noticed that my passenger side fan was running. I became concerned, looked online, and found out that it's quite normal so forgot about it. The next day, the same thing happened. This time though, I was making sure to look at everything. My temperature gauge on my dashboard stayed as low as always (about a quarter from the bottom) so I figured I wasn't overheating, yet the fan was still humming even after everything was off. Today, my sister and I decided to get some pizza from Little Caesar's, which is about 5 miles from my house, when I noticed that my temperature gauge was quickly running up to overheating. I stopped, parked and turned off the car, and waited for the engine to cool off while keeping an eye on the engine for any strange smells or sounds. After a while, I decided I was okay and continued to get my pizza, but as soon as I got to the store, my needle was already at red (although hovering right below it). I turned off the engine, opened up the hood and had myself a look. Then I noticed that my coolant/antifreeze secondary tank was completely empty minus about a half-inch of liquid at the bottom at most. I figured that the radiator wouldn't have any antifreeze either so I pulled my extra gallon from my trunk and put it into the little hose/radiator hole and filled the secondary tank halfway. As I was driving home, the temp gauge went up to 75% and stayed there while I was moving but would go right to the red while I was idling at lights and such. I didn't push the car hard while I was returning, and kept the heater in the car running full blast.

This is my family's first car, and I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes down to the engine. I've fixed other parts of the car myself, or with help, but I think I might have done serious damage according to the internet.

Do you guys think my car will be okay? Is there anything I should be looking out for? I'm afraid that I didn't put enough coolant into the radiator since I only had about three-quarters of a gallon of coolant to use and didn't have distilled water near me. I had also been driving at least three days without coolant in the car. No lights come on in the dashboard...

Without making this too long, this weekend my friend and I are going to operating on my car...rather, we'll be flushing the coolant completely and replacing it with brand new coolant as well. What else should I do? Thanks for any help!
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  #2  
Old 10-11-2012, 09:40 PM
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If you REALLY ran it with no coolant it would be really bad. The slightly better news is that the radiator gets low first, while the actual engine still has some coolant. So don't panic yet, but keep watching it.

If you don't have antifreeze or distilled water, you can still prevent overheating damage by using regular tap water. Just keep it full. Tap water might lead to corrosion over long time, but running it empty will hurt your engine right now. Corrosion will be slow because there's still some antifreeze in there.

If it were me, I'd figure out what's leaking, or where the antifreeze is going. Figure that out first & fix it. THEN rinse the system out & put in fresh antifreeze.
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  #3  
Old 10-11-2012, 10:07 PM
 
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It's not possible for coolant to just 'disappear', right? Would you have any suggestions as to what might be the first thing I should check for leaks? I'm going to be completely honest and say this is the first time that I've ever really looked at an engine, so I'm kind of lost as to what to do first. Thanks for responding btw!
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  #4  
Old 10-11-2012, 10:19 PM
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Well, sometimes it leaks only when it's hot, then it evaporates as soon as it leaks out. Some places like AutoZone have a pressure tester for rent or borrow (or buy). You remove the radiator cap & put this thing in its place. Pump up pressure kinda like a bicycle tire pump. By pressurizing the system cold, you might have better luck finding where it's leaking.

When you take off the radiator cap, check how good are the rubber gaskets inside the cap. And check the 2 different rings where those rubber gaskets press against. Damaged surface in those places in the radiator neck can let it leak right there.

Of course, there's a lot of hoses that might be leaking.

It's possible for antifreeze to leak into the oil. When that happens, your oil will look strange. Chunky, brown, milkshake... oil & water don't mix properly, but they get whipped into a kind of mush.
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  #5  
Old 10-11-2012, 10:19 PM
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Have you checked the actual coolant level? When the car is cold been off for several hours pull the radiator cap off it should be full up to the top.

The reservoir you added coolant to is irrelevant when it comes to the actual amount of fluid in the engine and radiator. It sounds like it needed fluid but you first need to pull the radiator cap off and check that level.
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  #6  
Old 10-11-2012, 10:33 PM
 
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I bought the car used from a guy back in April. I don't think he really checked anything on the car during the time he had it...I checked around the cap earlier today. I didn't know if it was normal but it looked really bad. I'll take a picture tomorrow and post it since it's nighttime right now so that you can get a better look at it. I'll also check with autozone or a few buddies of mine to see if I can get that pressure pump. I didn't even know that was a thing haha.

Moey, when I opened up the cap, it didn't have anything in it. I couldn't see any liquid whatsoever, so I put about a half gallon of antifreeze that I had in my trunk in there, but it didn't seem to be enough as I would never see it being filled. The booklet I have for the car said to fill it until it was level with the connecting pipe/hose, but it never got to that point. I'll fill that up tomorrow with water since that's all I can really afford right now. I'm just scared that I'll ruin the car more than I might have already. I put some extra in the other tank because I figured it might come in handy just in case..
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  #7  
Old 10-11-2012, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scarsofninja View Post
I'm going to be completely honest and say this is the first time that I've ever
really looked at an engine, so I'm kind of lost as to what to do first.
Jim Blake, you're an angel to this guy.
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  #8  
Old 10-11-2012, 11:06 PM
 
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Hahaha, you can say that again! First post here, and my first response was from a super moderator. Can't say that my luck can be better right now!
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  #9  
Old 10-12-2012, 10:26 AM
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Hey, being a mod just means I can delete other people's posting (spam & **** & stuff we dont want). There's a lot of non-moderators that know A LOT about cars.

Until you figure out where it's going, just keep it full. At some point it gets so diluted with water that you should buy some cheap (any kind) antifreeze. But hopefully you get the leak fixed sooner than that.
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Last edited by JimBlake; 10-12-2012 at 10:30 AM.
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  #10  
Old 10-12-2012, 03:31 PM
 
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Still, I'm incredibly glad you guys responded. Thanks very much. I'll do as you say and check for leaks and top off with water (at least for now). Cheers!
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:31 PM
 
 
 
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accord, antifreeze, car, check, coolant, coolent, damage, drove, engine, light, miles, run, running, start, starts, top


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