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Old 04-17-2011, 07:24 PM   #1
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Question flushed my brown coolant..wtf?

went to look into my coolant reseviour and my coolant was dark brown and smelled really bad. i flushed the whole system, took off the reseviour and cleaned it out real good and i'm running water instead until the fall/winter.

has anyone else had this problem/know what it is? could it just be from the prev owner not taking care of it?

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Old 04-17-2011, 07:32 PM   #2
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Sounds all oil ??

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Old 04-17-2011, 07:36 PM   #3
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The brown could be from rust. You should not run plain water as a coolant. Yes plain water is the best coolant there is but it doesn't have the lubricant your water pump requires and the anti-corrosion properties needed to prevent rust from forming in your system. Plain water will start things rusting inside the cast iron head and block. Not to mention that tap water in most parts of the country is high in disolved mineral content, like calcium, which will eventually clog the radiator.
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Old 04-17-2011, 08:08 PM   #4
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The brown could be from rust. You should not run plain water as a coolant. Yes plain water is the best coolant there is but it doesn't have the lubricant your water pump requires and the anti-corrosion properties needed to prevent rust from forming in your system. Plain water will start things rusting inside the cast iron head and block. Not to mention that tap water in most parts of the country is high in disolved mineral content, like calcium, which will eventually clog the radiator.
makes sense. soo should i just use normal 50/50 coolant then?
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Old 04-17-2011, 08:11 PM   #5
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X2 or Jerry's comment. Yours was probably brown because the last guy didnt run coolant either.
Flush it out good and run a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water.
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Old 04-17-2011, 08:37 PM   #6
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yup coolant turns brown as the rust builds up in the system. it means the coolant's anti-corrosion chemicals have long disappeared and the coolant has started to eat away at the block, radiator and water pump.

get a garden hose flush kit, flush it completely for a long time. Use an anti-freeze tester to verify a nice 50/50 mix of Zerex GO5 and distilled water.
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Old 04-18-2011, 04:12 AM   #7
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Flush the heater box while you are at it.
I've had the coolant in the radiator looking clear enough to drink but the junk that came out of the heater box was unbelievable.
It all ends up being one big system so one would have to affect the other.

Sounds like yours hasn't been done in a while.
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:09 AM   #8
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How do you flush the heater box?
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Old 04-18-2011, 07:00 AM   #9
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you can run water without all that drama, just use distilled water. its not going to make or break the situation over the short term. would i recommend it? no. a simple flush will accomplish what you seem to want by running water.
yes, a simple 50/50 will suffice. dont buy the premixed crap or you are paying for water. buy a hydrometer, mix it yourself in a second jug and just test it prior to pouring it in.
the easy back flush for the heater core is in the fall, just reverse your heater hoses. if you do that every year, you will never have a plugged core.
the other option is remove the thermostat, put everything back together, put the hose in the top of the radiator and just let it run while the engine is running, have the drain cock open on the radiator and you will flush the system in short order.
otherwise, you need to flush the rad, run the engine till operating temp and the thermostat opens, shut it down, drain it and flush it again. do this a few times to get everything diluted enough and flushed through.
the other way is much easier and quicker. while you are at it, change the thermostat and rad cap. they are cheap. me personally, when i do that, i change heater hoses and rad hoses too. its preventive maintenance.
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:31 AM   #10
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the easy back flush for the heater core is in the fall, just reverse your heater hoses.
Not easily done on the TJ since the heater's two hoses are two different diameters.
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:45 AM   #11
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Not easily done on the TJ since the heater's two hoses are two different diameters.
do you have an easy write up to flush the heaterbox? i'm going to flush my coolant system out again and run more water through it and then switch in a few more days to 50/50 and water. its still kindof brown in there
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:08 AM   #12
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There's not much to flushing the heater box lownslowVW. Disconnect the two heater hoses that run along side the engine on the passenger side, at where they connect to the front of the engine. Then with a garden hose, simply run water back & forth through the heater core until it runs free and clear. Be sure to note that the two hoses have different diameters so they must be placed back onto the same connector they came off.

Be sure when you mix the coolant to the recommended 50:50 ratio to only use distilled water which you can buy at your local grocery store. Don't be tempted to use water from the hose which will start clogging up the cooling system because of the high mineral content that most local water has in it.
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:10 AM   #13
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went to look into my coolant reseviour and my coolant was dark brown and smelled really bad. i flushed the whole system, took off the reseviour and cleaned it out real good and i'm running water instead until the fall/winter.

has anyone else had this problem/know what it is? could it just be from the prev owner not taking care of it?
never use tap water ,distilled only.
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:54 AM   #14
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I am running distilled water
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:13 AM   #15
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Had a mechanic tell me a couple of days ago that tap was better than distilled in his opinion. Said it was less likely to leech your block since it was already filled with minerals etc. His logic was that distilled would pull those things from your engine. Sounds kinda like that reverse osmosis stuff from WAYYYYY back!
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:17 AM   #16
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Had a mechanic tell me a couple of days ago that tap was better than distilled in his opinion.
Stay away from that mechanic, he doesn't know what he's talking about.
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:31 AM   #17
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Had a mechanic tell me a couple of days ago that tap was better than distilled in his opinion. Said it was less likely to leech your block since it was already filled with minerals etc. His logic was that distilled would pull those things from your engine. Sounds kinda like that reverse osmosis stuff from WAYYYYY back!
you need a new mechanic.
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:31 AM   #18
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the only reason you get mineral deposits, calcium buildup and lime from tap water is because its in places that see a lot of water passage like in a shower, toilet, coffee maker, etc. one dose of water in your radiator is not going to do that. most pool, spa places will do a water test for free and you can see that the amount in your local water is very low. this is like an urban legend or old wives tale.
if it makes you feel better to use distilled then do so, but trying to refute an actual mechanic is pointless. there are millions of people out there that use tap water regularly, myself included and never have a problem.
the argument about it inhibiting rust is moot since the fluid is running through an iron block with steel and other ferrous parts. while the water itself may not promote rust, the ferrous metals do.
as for switching the hoses, it doesnt require rocket science to add an adaptor into the line that facilitates switching the hoses.
its amazing how sometimes people are more worried about being right then trying to learn new things. if no one ever did anything different or tried anything new we would still be walking everywhere.
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:39 AM   #19
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Disolved mineral content in tap water is hardly an "urban legend or an old wive's tale". If it were, the coolant manufacturers wouldn't recommend distilled water or use it when making pre-mixed coolant for resale. And it's not "one dose" of water in your radiator, it's that the water remains there until it is changed which gives it a long time to start depositing mineral deposits on the inside of the radiator. And for anyone who believes most water isn't high in dissolved mineral content, go to a radiator shop and see where they make most of their $$$... cleaning mineral deposits out of clogged up radiators from the owner having used tap water.

SOME parts of the country have soft water which is low in disolved mineral content which is why you might get away with it randy and teri. Most tap water is not soft (low in mineral content) though.

And no, it doesn't require rocket science to add an adapter so the heater hoses can be reversed. No one said it did. What I said was is that it's not easy to swap them since the hoses are two different diameters.

So you can just continue using common hose water if you like. I'm betting you won't find a single coolant manufacturer that says it's ok to use anything but distilled water thogh. Care to see if you can find any coolant manufacturer that backs up your claim that it's ok to use ordinary tap water and post it up here?

I've learned not to use anything but distilled water after several clogged radiators in the past 45 years of driving.
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Old 04-18-2011, 11:56 AM   #20
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and i bet you wont find a dealership that says to put used or japanese aftermarket parts on your car but we all still do it. they also say to use their special blends of anti-freeze which isnt even available in some areas. and they say to get all your service done with them when most of us do it ourselves.
as for a radiator shop they make most of their money because people are lazy and dont flush their radiators, just like most people are lazy and wont wash their cars.
its just like when two guys in town say they saw a ufo but the other ten thousand people in the same town saw nothing.
water has a finite amount of mineral content. it only allows for a finite amount of deposits. you try to make it sound like tap water is the devil and will clog your entire system up and rot it out and thats simply not true. people can believe what they like but it is one dose, unless you have a leak and keep adding water daily, the amount of water added to the system is limited as are the amount of minerals contained in it.

and i dont have soft water, i have a well with hard water actually but also manage to have a pool, a hot tub, washer, two coffee pots, ice maker in my refrigerator plus my cars, trucks and motorcycles (yes they are both liquid cooled) and somehow they havent burned down, fell over and sank into the swamp yet. i guess im just lucky.
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:00 PM   #21
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Whatever you want to believe is fine with me.
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:48 PM   #22
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I'm going to have to agree with Jerry, the amount of minerals may seem small, be the passages in your engine are even smaller. It only took a chunk of calcium smaller than a pea to make my shower stop working completely. The passages in the faucet are very small and a the calcium clogged the cold water, and cold water is where you get all your pressure.
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Old 04-18-2011, 01:26 PM   #23
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The brown color - What do you get when you mix pink or orange with green?
BROWN!

Mixing some types of coolants together create a gritty substance, like fine sand. That's far more injurious than any mineral content in water. The PO probably didn't know.


In a situation where water is refreshed, then each time more minerals are added - showers, dog's water dish etc.
But put it in a glass jar for 10 years, the minerals don't precipitate out. The minerals in it don't multiply. The mineral content stays the same as when it was filled.

A radiator has to be filled once in a while due to evaporation, adding the additional mineralized water will add a little more minerals. It's somewhere between the 10 year jar and the dog's dish.

The negative flack about distilled water was started years ago, some pundits recommended DE-IONIZED water. That will cause lots of corrosion from electrolysis!

Use Distilled in your battery too.

A little trick - use a high impedance voltmeter like a digital voltmeter. Put the (+) lead on ground, dip the (-) lead in the radiator water/coolant - don't touch the metal.
If the voltage exceeds .5 volts, it's time for a flush and fill. The voltage is caused by the acids and electrolysis between the dissimilar metals - iron, aluminum, brass etc. As the acid rises, so does the voltage.
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:07 PM   #24
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its amazing how sometimes people are more worried about being right then trying to learn new things. if no one ever did anything different or tried anything new we would still be walking everywhere.
Distilled water is proven to have no adverse affects in a radiator, tap water is subject to debate. At $1.50 a gallon I'll stick with distilled.
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The negative flack about distilled water was started years ago, some pundits recommended DE-IONIZED water. That will cause lots of corrosion from electrolysis
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De-ionized water and distilled water are the same thing. Water with ions removed. The purification process may be different but the end result is the same. Pure H2O, water with minerals removed.
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:57 PM   #25
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De-ionized water and distilled water are the same thing

Not even close. Distilled gets rid of particulates and some dissolved salts, DI gets rid of everything else at great relative cost. DI WILL attack iron, brass, and low grade steel.
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:07 PM   #26
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Deionized water can be injurious to your health if you drink it.

Distilled water isn't. It just lacks the minerals our bodies need.

Here's a couple of articles -

Deionized Water & Definition | eHow.com

Distilled Water And Health Discussion
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:10 PM   #27
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Not even close. Distilled gets rid of particulates and some dissolved salts, DI gets rid of everything else at great relative cost. DI WILL attack iron, brass, and low grade steel.
X2 distilled is not the same as deionized water.
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:18 PM   #28
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Not even close. Distilled gets rid of particulates and some dissolved salts, DI gets rid of everything else at great relative cost. DI WILL attack iron, brass, and low grade steel.
Close enough for this discussion. While they are different, there are so many different "grades" or "degrees" of both distilled and DI water, depending on purification apparatus, storage, etc. that the end product overlaps in many cases. There will always be trace elements in the end product with either method. If this were a medical device manufacturing forum they would take it further and discuss double distilled, ozonization, ultraviolet irradiation, etc. They are both considered "demineralized" forms of water, and both will attack metals quicker than mineralized water. We're talking mineral buildup here, not corrosive qualities. The spot-free rinses at carwashes use DI tanks. Same with mobile wash outfits that clean dealer's cars. Both are interchangeable in radiators or batteries. And DI water is actually cheaper to produce than true distilled water, which is more likely to be RO water.
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Deionized water can be injurious to your health if you drink it.
]
This is a mis-conception. Drinking ONLY distilled or DI is not recommended simply because it has no minerals in it, which we need.
Deionize Water Misconceptions
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Old 04-18-2011, 07:02 PM   #29
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Then drink away!
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:58 AM   #30
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To make it real easy, just buy the premixed 50/50 coolant. That way you don't have to go through the "mess & guess" BS when mixing it.

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