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Old 11-19-2014, 09:29 AM
 
13,563 posts, read 16,060,181 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psurangers11 View Post
Well below freezing.. admittedly it's just water.
You live in PA, and you were running the car in freezing weather with only water in the cooling system?
Gulp!

If you have lived a good life and are extremely lucky, the repair bill will not be too extreme, but the possibility exists that the engine block or head could have cracked as a result of freezing.

And, just for future reference, "antifreeze" also functions as a coolant that is far more effective than water at preventing overheating in the summer, so coolant/antifreeze in the proper concentration should be used year-round. It also functions to prevent rust and corrosion in the cooling system, so that gives you an additional reason to use it year-round.

Why was the coolant/antifreeze drained in the first place?

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Old 11-19-2014, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Denver
3,139 posts, read 6,901,436 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psurangers11 View Post
Well below freezing.. admittedly it is just water...I need to have the repair shop put coolant in ASAP.
It could be too late. It will be interesting to learn what the shop finds.

So you drained out the coolant and refilled the system with water only?
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Old 11-19-2014, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Denver
3,139 posts, read 6,901,436 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retriever View Post
You live in PA, and you were running the car in freezing weather with only water in the cooling system?
Gulp!

If you have lived a good life and are extremely lucky, the repair bill will not be too extreme, but the possibility exists that the engine block or head could have cracked as a result of freezing.

And, just for future reference, "antifreeze" also functions as a coolant that is far more effective than water at preventing overheating in the summer, so coolant/antifreeze in the proper concentration should be used year-round. It also functions to prevent rust and corrosion in the cooling system, so that gives you an additional reason to use it year-round.

Why was the coolant/antifreeze drained in the first place?

100% water cools more effectively than water mixed with coolant.


Coolant Efficientcy: Water Only vs Water / Anti-freeze Mix
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:03 AM
 
Location: Oklahoma
467 posts, read 1,238,347 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psurangers11 View Post
Hello C-D car experts... hoping maybe some out there can maybe figure out what just happened this morning to my car! I'm in "worst-case scenario mode".

It's a 2003 Ford Focus and it's got roughly 120,000 miles on it so she's weathered. I notice too that she seems to do rather poorly with cold weather the last few years and with the arctic blast we've been receiving it seems no different (not sure if this could be any cause or just coincidence).

With that said, I started my car this morning and when the engine turned over it was really loud... just didn't start normally. Seconds later I smelled smoke and then noticed white smoke starting to come out of the sides. I immediately turned the car off...

Upon opening hood and quickly inspecting I can definitely see it was smoking but couldn't pin-point from where and couldn't really notice anything... luckily no actual fires!

I waited 5 minutes and figured I'd try again just to see what happened and when it started it all of a sudden was making this horrible screeching/squealing noise. It almost sounded as if it could be belt trouble?

So.. at the moment I'm SOL until the dealership opens that takes car of our cars and from there arranging for a tow, so thought maybe I could seek if anyone may know what it could possibly be? A. so I can sound like I know what I'm talking about when asked what's happening, and B. to figure out if this is possibly a costly fix or even a fix worth doing on an older car on it's last legs.

Thanks all!

Since the engine was cold when you started it, and the noise and smoke started within "seconds", my guess is that you have a pulley that has locked up and the serpentine belt was slipping over it at speeds high enough to cause the belt to start smoking.

Also, topping off your radiator with water, instead of the proper antifreeze and water mixture, will simply dilute the amount of remaining antifreeze in your engine and coolant lines. However, if you have a coolant leak (lines, hoses, head gasket, etc), and you added more water than what is called for in a typical "topping off" scenario, and your temperatures last night were below freezing for several hours, then your water pump may have been frozen this morning.

Replacing a water pump is well within the bounds of "maintenance" on an otherwise dependable vehicle. But, if you actually did have to put in that much water to cause the water pump to freeze, then you need to find out where the coolant leak is.
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Inland Empire, Calif
2,887 posts, read 4,604,807 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wankel7 View Post
100% water cools more effectively than water mixed with coolant.


Coolant Efficientcy: Water Only vs Water / Anti-freeze Mix
Correct, if he were living in the Mojave desert in July, in Pa during an arctic freeze, not so much..
If the smoke was immediate upon starting, it obviously isn't from excessive temperature. A pulley or idler had frozen up and the belt is smoking. Just need to narrow it down to which pulley. Probably not a biggie, except for the tow bill...
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, NV
2,761 posts, read 2,252,425 times
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Luckily no tow bill as it's covered on insurance... I'm home now and on phone replying so sorry if I don't hit all points.

I never drained the coolant... So not sure how it got low unless like someone said theres a leak somewhere.

This all just happened suddenly too.... Used it yesterday and it was fine even in similar cold. Temps got down into teens though so the freeze theory of the belt is definitely a chance that happened.

I'll keep everyone posted... Thanks for all of your answers and support and not flaming me for being stupid!!
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:21 AM
 
13,563 posts, read 16,060,181 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wankel7 View Post
100% water cools more effectively than water mixed with coolant.

That statement puzzles me.
If water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, if a 50/50 coolant/water mixture boils at 223 F, and if a 70/30 mix of coolant/water boils at 235 degrees...how is 100% water more effective at cooling than water mixed with coolant?

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Old 11-19-2014, 10:23 AM
 
13,563 posts, read 16,060,181 times
Reputation: 18028
Quote:
Originally Posted by psurangers11 View Post

I never drained the coolant... So not sure how it got low unless like someone said theres a leak somewhere.

Huh?
If the cooling system was never drained, then it is more likely that you had a low level of coolant/water mix. Why do you say that the cooling system had "just" water in it?

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Old 11-19-2014, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, NV
2,761 posts, read 2,252,425 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retriever View Post
Huh?
If the cooling system was never drained, then it is more likely that you had a low level of coolant/water mix. Why do you say that the cooling system had "just" water in it?

When I noticed the engine running hot I took a look under hood at the reservoir where the coolant would be. I saw that nothing seemed to be in there which meant to me it was causing the overheating. So I filled it with water as a temp fix to the minimum level line to keep it from overheating.
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Oklahoma
467 posts, read 1,238,347 times
Reputation: 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by psurangers11 View Post
Luckily no tow bill as it's covered on insurance... I'm home now and on phone replying so sorry if I don't hit all points.

I never drained the coolant... So not sure how it got low unless like someone said theres a leak somewhere.

This all just happened suddenly too.... Used it yesterday and it was fine even in similar cold. Temps got down into teens though so the freeze theory of the belt is definitely a chance that happened.

I'll keep everyone posted... Thanks for all of your answers and support and not flaming me for being stupid!!

There is a huge difference between being "stupid" and being "ignorant". Stupid means you can't be taught. Ignorant means you haven't been taught. You're not stupid.

Something caused your coolant levels to drop significantly to raise the operating temperature of the vehicle to the "high" point on your temp gauge. Instead of adding the proper coolant/water mixture you added straight water. You still had coolant in your lines, hoses, and ports around your engine. Under normal circumstances adding straight water will dilute the remaining coolant, but not enough to render the remaining coolant ineffective.

However, if something happened (faulty head gasket, etc) that caused a large amount of existing coolant to leak out, and you added enough water to significantly lower the effectiveness of the remaining coolant (i.e. hours of being in very low outdoor temperatures) then the remaining coolant was unable to overcome those lower temps and the water prevailed turning into ice. The water pump may have iced up overnight.

So, you started your car this morning, the water pump pulley couldn't turn, and the belt started shrieking and smoking.

If all of that is the case then you're looking at replacing the water pump and the serpentine belt.

However, you'll still be left with the mystery of why that much coolant disappeared. Whatever the cause it will need to be corrected.

Again, this is all conjecture at this point since I have not personally looked at your vehicle.
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