OMG! Coolant turned brown again...

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If anyone remembers, I just recently flushed and replaced the coolant in my '96 Camry LE (automatic shift) because it had turned brown. Well it's happened again. But this time I can clearly see that only the coolant in the overflow resevoir is brown, whereas that on the lip of the radiator is still bright green.

Can you please help me figure out what the problem might be? Since my first attempt at fixing it didn't work, the problem could be something I don't know at all, but some possible clues are

1) I couldn't quite flush the resevoir properly when I did the job a few weeks ago. It drained when I first opened up the "faucet" at the bottom of the radiator but then while I was flushing with the garden hose I couldn't quite see anything coming out so I stopped :oops: So if someone could tell me exactly how to drain it I'd appreciate it regardless of whether or not it would fix the problem.

2) I didn't take my time to run water / radiator cleaner through the system for ten mins, wait for the car to cool down, etc before replacing the coolant.

Please help!

posted by  JaneiR36

Well it sounds like you may have a blown head gasket. Does the coolant look like chocolate milk? When you drive your car, does the temp gauge take a while to move and does the cars engine stay rather cooler than normal? If those seem like some of the problems that you might have, it is most likely the head gasket. Don't worry, its not a major problem. It is something that is pretty cheap if you do it yourself, but then again, it could be something that could be very hard to do. I hope that I helped you out. If there is anything else, just send and email.

posted by  90civicsi

wow. I'd almost completely ignored this problem. No it doesn't have any of the other symptoms you mentioned (but thanks for your help, though). The temperature gauge seems to work fine and the coolant (in the reservoir) is actually a greenish-brown. I think I might just get a turkey baster from the dollar store, and try removing and replacing the fluid in just the reservoir a couple times. If that changes nothing, I might look into it further.

I'm guessing the concentration is a little off because the previous drain and flush was not very thorough.

posted by  JaneiR36

Remove the reservoir from the vehicle, empty it, fill it with hot water and a good, strong detergent, shake it around for a while (cover the lid), empty it and rinse it. Do it serveral times if need be. Or if you have a power washer, that's even better.

posted by  KNTRDR

hey, thanks :wink2:

One more question, though. If I take out the reservoir with fluid still in it, will it come gushing out?

posted by  JaneiR36

Ugh. Until just now, I thought the reservoir had a hole connected to a hose on the bottom so the fluid would come pouring out :umh: I feel like an idiot :banghead:

But what I do have, is a small hole on the top corner of it. Yeah, the plastic reservoir is broken. Does this in any way affect cooling system performance? What should I do? (My current choice is ignoring it............)?

posted by  JaneiR36

Won't effect cooling, but you need to repair the hole/crack,whatever. Go to you local hardware/parts store and buy JB WELD. Comes in various applications, it's a two part epoxy. I've used it for years and will swear by it. Plus it's cheap. :2cents:

posted by  lectroid

Bought! (Late night Walmart trip.... $3.97 Mmmm...)

It says to let the object dry at least overnight, so I'll wait to try and use it tomorrow evening. I hope it works on plastics, it hasn't been listed as one of the applications.

http://www.jbweld.net/ for anyone who's interested.

posted by  JaneiR36

BTW, they've got so many products!

http://jbweld.net/products/index.php

I'm considering JB Kwik (sets in four minutes and cures in 4 - 6 hours) or JB Stik (no preparation or mixing required, plugs holes quickly and cures in 20 - 30 minutes!). Do you have experience with either of this products, or just with the JB weld? What is your recommendation?

posted by  JaneiR36

All I've ever used is the weld. After reading the apps. for kwik&stick, all they are is a lower quality (faster setup product). The weld willdo all of that and more. ABS,PVC and fiberglass are plastic. If you have the time and patience, you can reform a wrenched off bolt head with the weld. I have repaired many plastic and metal items with the weld. :2cents: Now it's you preference. The over-flow is under no pressure and doesn't require a fast setup.

posted by  lectroid

I've used the JB Weld Kwik and liked it. I think if I wanted to flush the reservoir, I would squirt some Dawn dish soap into the reservoir fill hole, then stick a water hose into the reservoir and let it run. Seems the running water should flush it out pretty good.

The reservoir is quite important, as it collects the water from the radiator as the water expands when hot, then syphons it back into the engine as it cools off. If the reservoir has a hole in it, the excess water leaks out and the engine coolant gets low over a period of time. Old coolant with low level can make the reservoir quite nasty at times. (Probably usless information)

posted by  ErnieIII

[QUOTE=ErnieIII] I would squirt some Dawn dish soap into the reservoir fill hole, QUOTE]
I know this is off the subject, but since you mentioned Dawn dish soap, here is another use. I have used this for the last 2 years. Puts Windex to shame. Also,for smokers,(in autos)pre-clean windows with windsheild washing fluid.
1 pint alcohol , 1/2 cup ammonia, 1tsp Dawn dish washing liquid, and enough water to make a gallon.(don't use on vinyl/plastic tint)

Almost forgot... If you spray your shower walls down with this/after showering,they will stay cleaner for a loooooong time.

posted by  lectroid

Another off the subject, but it seems every time I work on a car my hands get greasy. Not bad if you date a girl who likes cars...after many different hand cleaners, I came across a real kick a-- cleaner. It is called "Steam" and is an aerosol engine cleaner made by Gumout. Spray it on your arms and hands, rub it in, and rinses clean. Also nice because it doesn't burn on cuts and nicks. A squirt under your fingernails and a small brush gets clean nails. Doesn't smell bad either.

One day I got my hair in some spilled drain oil, so I washed my hair with it. Worked great!

posted by  ErnieIII

Whoa... why do I suddenly feel like I'm back on a girls' forum? LOL Just kidding, guys! :laughing:

Since I already bought JB weld I'll be using that. I can kind of see what you're saying, lectroid. If the kwik and weld were of the same quality, they'd probably have phased out the original one. I forgot to do it again today and it gets so dark so fast...............

Ernie, no leaking will probably be happening because of that hole. It's at the top -- where the plastic reservoir hooks into the metal hookie thingie that holds it in place. I seriously doubt the coolant would ever get that high (way above the 'FULL' mark). Hopefully I'll be able to fix it soon, anyway.

posted by  JaneiR36

in aus we have a product called lightning scrubber
its a pinkish kinda goo
it also has little grit particals to get rid of anything on your hands (paint tar grease)
its $8AU for a small tub and $80 for a 20 litre which will last you forever
we also have snap-on hand cleaner which is exactly the same as lightning but more expensive
its the best stuff on the market


if your radiator water keeps turning brown the inside of your radiator may have rust in it.
this problem sometimes happen if you dont have the right coolant in it or you dont have any coolant at all
this isnt really a DIY job you have to take your radiator into whatevr place that deals with them
and in a worst case scenerio you may have to replace it


btw an overflow bottle does stuff all if you regularly maintane your car (top up fluids ect)

posted by  DamienAKAaussie

hey there, I actually saw little flaky-like thingies when I tossed the coolant in the reservoir. I may have to do the flush properly and use that rust remover. Shouldn't take me more than 30 minutes, really. I"m just lazy.

And would you believe I just found out how much a coolant flush really costs! For some reason, I was thinking along the lines of $24.99, but I just saw in the place I went to today -- $99.95! I saved a pile of money!! But of course, it does cost less to completely ignore any maintenance and problems, especially for an old car you wouldn't be eventually liable for... he he :laughing:

posted by  JaneiR36

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