Radiator fluid color diagnosis – hot rod forum hotrodders bulletin board gas oil ratio calculator

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I have been only running Water in the system for engine testing purposes only. The cooling system is circulating fine through the tubes and doesn’t run hot. I will flush and fill the coolant system only after I know this is not a major issue.

That’s rust, has nothing to do with grounds and everything to do with water based reaction with metals at elevated temperature. That is hot water rusts hot metals at considerably accelerated rates. Add to that it’s probably tap water which is absolute poison to cooling systems unless it comes from my personal well in the mountains of Washington state, and even then I wouldn’t use it in an engine cooling system.

Contrary to a lot of advertising BS you find on the web, that includes infomercials that are passed off as data but are really baloney by people who are clueless, being home sick today and flipping through YouTube I saw a pair of real geniuses from Auto Zone way in to the advertising and way out of their knowledge zone. This stuff coolant is not universally compatible, different brands use different chemistry to solve same similar problems mostly related to corrosion. They work in different ways and certainly are not additive to each other. Best you can hope for is they only have shorter effective life span with competing chemistries fighting each other, not actually doing damage. The concept of lifetime coolant is not your’s nor the vehicle’s it is the lifespan of the additive package. Here environment as in operating conditions is everything and if you buy your own and mix it with anything besides distilled or deionized water you are in trouble from the git go.

Coolant can be broken down into 3 general groups. Old school glycol, SCA’s and ELC’s. Glycol has worked for decades, but there are better options. The kicker with the SCA and ELC is that both will protect your engine from corrosion as long as they are NOT mixed. If they are mixed, the rust protection agents nuetralize each other and you are left with coolant that rusts/corrodes everything, but won’t freeze. One keeps the coolant from being corrosive and the other protects the metal from rusting.

Personally, I use ELC (extended life coolant) that is designed for heavy duty trucks for a couple of reasons. 1st, it is extremely common and easy to find, and 2nd, it will protect a truck that has aluminum, steel, zinc, etc. components and will protect them for thousands of hours of use. Easiest place to get it is at the local truck dealer – Cat, Mack, Volvo, Navistar all have their own brand that is good stuff that won’t let you down. Steer clear of the phosphate or nitrite free sales pitch. Regular old Caterpillar ELC is good stuff and not breaking the bank.

Be advised, and contrary to popular opinion, in regards to ELC and SCA coolants the coler is irrelevant to anything. The color is a dye and different manufacturers use whatever dye makes them happy. Some will be red, orange, purple, blue, green, etc. Color doesn’t matter.

Coolant can be broken down into 3 general groups. Old school glycol, SCA’s and ELC’s. Glycol has worked for decades, but there are better options. The kicker with the SCA and ELC is that both will protect your engine from corrosion as long as they are NOT mixed. If they are mixed, the rust protection agents nuetralize each other and you are left with coolant that rusts/corrodes everything, but won’t freeze. One keeps the coolant from being corrosive and the other protects the metal from rusting.

Personally, I use ELC (extended life coolant) that is designed for heavy duty trucks for a couple of reasons. 1st, it is extremely common and easy to find, and 2nd, it will protect a truck that has aluminum, steel, zinc, etc. components and will protect them for thousands of hours of use. Easiest place to get it is at the local truck dealer – Cat, Mack, Volvo, Navistar all have their own brand that is good stuff that won’t let you down. Steer clear of the phosphate or nitrite free sales pitch. Regular old Caterpillar ELC is good stuff and not breaking the bank.

Be advised, and contrary to popular opinion, in regards to ELC and SCA coolants the coler is irrelevant to anything. The color is a dye and different manufacturers use whatever dye makes them happy. Some will be red, orange, purple, blue, green, etc. Color doesn’t matter.

Move to the southwest and give that a try with their alkali water (there’s a reason it’s called the Salt River, or the midwest with high iron and calcium cabonate, or most of the south with high carbonate and sometimes iron. It’s just safer to say "no" since the likelihood of the average guy taking a sample to a lab to find out what’s dissolved in the tap water and how much is in there just isn’t likely to happen.

At my cabin up in the mountains the water comes from a 150 foot deep well, it’s a rock steady 38 degrees year round the source is high country snow melt, it gives a whole new meaning to "delicious". But while it is absolute clean, pure, and cold and it doesn’t go into cooling systems. I grew up in the desert southwest that water will corrode the hair off your head, (at least that’s my reasoning behind my reverse Mohawk) let alone what it does to cooling systems.

Frankly, I’ve been an Evans waterless user for a long time, the corrosion issues especially with aluminum is just gone, the system runs with less pressure which is a lot easier on aluminum radiators, and hoses. But you’ve got to belly up to the bar and by a round for the house, which is pricey. But it’s once unless you have a failure that lets it out. Otherwise, best I can tell this where "Life Time" means just that.

Back in my high school days I had a 53 Merc and a 32 Ford pickup. The Merc got a 1/8th over 56 Lincoln and a T-85 with overdrive (kind of like the song but that’s talking about a Lincoln flathead V12 in model T). The 256 flattie from the Merc along with drive line went into the 32. Then I went to college where the rag top, blow your doors off Merc made finding girls easier than the pickup. So the pickup spent the next 15 years in a horse stall back home with a 50/50 mix of Prestone and tap water in the cooling system. Then one day at work a guy I worked with also a gear head mentioned that he was looking for a late 20’s early 30’s pick up and I said that I had one not driven for years in my folks barn. We ended up having to pull the heads (Offenhouser aluminum castings) as it was pumping green water out the exhaust when I fired it up. All the coolant passage holes were rotten for like a eighth to quarter inch around. I ground the corroded aluminum till I hit solid metal, then took them to a buddy that was a heli-arc driver for a aircraft company, then to a local machine shop for milling. So that’s a lesson in what tap water especially southwest tap water can do.