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Discussion Starter #1
Still in the first few weeks of driving my first Jeep, a 2012 Wrangler, and I put on the windshield wash to clear the bugs from my windshield. Front t-tops were off and I immediately noticed the awful smell of antifreeze/coolant!!!! Fear rushed through me as I realized previous owner or dealership must have accidentally added coolant to the windshield wash tank. Which made me realize that maybe they put windshield washer fluid in the radiator reserve!!! So as soon as I got back home, I open the windshield wash bin, take a sniff, and sure enough, smells like radiator fluid. So I empty it, flush it, and move on to the radiator reserve. Take a sniff, and it's not smelling as strong as typical radiator fluid. So I pump some out into a bucket, sniff again, swirl it around to see if its sudsy like washer fluid would be, and it does bubble a little. So now I'm super pissed bc I don't know enough about cars to know if putting windshield washer fluid in a radiator is a major problem. Thermostat reading on my dash has been normal and everything sounds and runs fine. I bought the Jeep in PA, but live in NJ. So I called our local Jeep dealership and scheduled an appointment to have the radiator flushed, which I'm hoping will be covered by warranty. Can anyone advise how harmful it is to my Jeep if there is indeed washer fluid running through my radiator for AT LEAST the last 1500 miles (that's how many I've put on it)? Thanks!
 

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I think you may be alright. Just get your radiator/coolant system completly flushed out and fluid replaced and you should be okay.

Have them flush out your washer fluid resovure too. I'd take it to a differeent dealership though. Hardest part is going to get them to believe that it was not your doing.

Washer Fluid has alot of water in it, and engine coolant is 50% water anyway. You mentioned that your temps was normal, so you should be okay with just a complete system flush and refill.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much! It puts me a little at ease, at least until I take it in on Monday. Thanks!
 

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radiator is probably fine just as it is..even if they put a little windshield cleaner in the overflow,it won't hurt anything..most likely they didn't but just screwed up and put antifreeze in the windshield washer reservoir
 

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Wash your jeep ASAP. Coolant will damage your paint job.
As for windshield washer fluid in your coolant system, that can be much harder to tell. Some (especially winter formulas) contain methanol to act as antifreeze. Methanol is VERY CORROSIVE. If in doubt, flush your coolant system as well. A corroded heater core and coolant pump and radiator can be very expensive to replace.
 

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A radiator/coolant flush is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of replacing corroded parts. I'd still flush it given what happened.
 

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if it is safe for paint,etc. then I don't see it hurting the inside of the engine
If it's winter blend windshield washer fluid, it contains methanol. Methanol is corrosive and is a weak acid. It won't cause rapid corrosion, but over many months it can and will cause damage. You don't want it in your coolant system. I personally wouldn't risk it.
 

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If it's winter blend windshield washer fluid, it contains methanol. Methanol is corrosive and is a weak acid. It won't cause rapid corrosion, but over many months it can and will cause damage. You don't want it in your coolant system. I personally wouldn't risk it.
methanol evaporates when exposed to air
 

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Do a quick google search...aqueous methanol and anhydrous methanol are both corrosive. Water also evaporates when exposed to air....so why doesn't coolant become pure ethylene glycol instead of a 50:50 mixture with water when run as a coolant for engines?
 

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I see. You must be right. The OP has nothing to worry about. I wonder why a methanol/water solution isn't used as antifreeze in auto coolant systems and ethylene glycol/water is? Hmmm....
 

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In the early days of the auto industry, coolant systems had ventilated radiator caps and methanol was commonly used. However, because the system was ventilated, the methanol would often evaporate out of solution and replacement of methanol was needed often. As coolant systems and metals used in them became more complex, methanol was abandoned because it caused corrosion of aluminum, copper, and other metals commonly contained in them. Also, modern coolant systems are closed, under pressure and only ventilate when the pressure exceeds the pressure regulator (radiator cap) built into the system...so methanol added to a modern coolant system would not evaporate out of the coolant very quickly at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So, I just took it to my local dealership for repair but he said it wouldn't be covered under warranty and that I'd have to pay to flush the radiator. So I told him to wait, called the dealership in PA and explained that they should pay for the repair. Spoke with an amazingly nice woman in Service who helped and after negotiations (they first only agreed to pay half), I will be taking it back to their dealership (which is a 2 hour drive) and they will service it for free. So, that's the plan for now.
 

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glad to hear they're doing the right thing. And believe me, you don't want to risk winter-blend washer fluid being in your coolant system.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Took it to the dealership in PA on Saturday and they flushed the windshield washer reserve and the radiator and refilled with all proper fluids. Wash and vac. I read my book in the service waiting area, drank some of their Starbucks coffee and watched a little golf, then drove the two hours back home. All-in-all, not a bad day! Very happy she's all back to normal and hopefully not too much damage was done....
 
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