Overheated vehicle engines need shutting down immediately, often stranding the car in an inconvenient location. Severely overheating an engine creates internal failures, requiring expensive internal repairs or engine replacement. As a result, you should ideally repair the cooling system before major damage occurs. You can often do this by replacing the leaking part. However, the cost can be prohibitive for repairs such as head gasket replacements. Cooling system sealers such as liquid glass can often temporarily stop a leak until repaired properly. Liquid glass refers to sodium silicate, which creates a glasslike coating internal to the cooling system to repair leaks.
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Things you need
- Coolant drain bucket, 3 gal. capacity
- 5 gal. water
- Cooling system cleaner
- 2 buckets with lids, 5 gal. capacity
- Liquid glass cooling system sealer
Open the radiator cap to break the vacuum. Slide the coolant drain bucket under the front of the vehicle.
Drain the vehicle's coolant into the coolant drain bucket by opening the radiator's drain petcock or by removing the lower radiator hose. Most vehicles have a radiator drain petcock on the lower corner of the radiator. Unscrew metal petcocks several turns. Twist plastic petcocks turn a quarter-turn counter-clockwise to unlock then pull straight out to drain.
Reinstall the radiator hose or close the petcock when the vehicle is finished draining. Empty the coolant drain bucket into one of the empty 5 gal. buckets for disposal.
Empty the contents of the cooling system cleaner into the radiator. Refill the radiator with water from the hose.
Turn the heater on high and start the vehicle. Run the vehicle until the temperature gauge reaches full operating temperature. Turn off the vehicle and allow the engine to cool.
Open the radiator cap and drain the cooling system again. Close the drain when the vehicle finishes draining. Empty the cooling drain bucket into the five gal. buckets.
Empty the contents of the liquid glass cooling system sealer into the radiator. Top off the radiator with cool water.
Start the vehicle. Turn the heater on high. Allow the vehicle to reach operating temperature. Run the vehicle for a half hour. The leak should slow to a stop during this time. Tear down and repair vehicles that continue to leak at this point. Turn off the vehicle and allow it to cool.
Drain the radiator. Leave the drained vehicle to sit overnight with the radiator cap removed. Empty the coolant drain bucket into the five gal. buckets.
Refill the radiator with the proper mix of antifreeze and water. Start the vehicle and run until the vehicle reaches full operating temperature. Check the antifreeze level in the radiator and overflow bottle, topping of as required.
Drive the vehicle to verify the repair.
Seal the lids of the 5 gal. buckets. Dispose of used coolant at a recycling facility, auto parts store or automotive repair shop.
Tips and warnings
- Product manufacturer's directions may vary, such as only adding product directly to the antifreeze. However, perform the alternate procedure described to ensure adhesion and prevent gelling of the coolant.
- Flushing the antifreeze with a cleaner removes the slick film from antifreeze chemicals inside the cooling system, improving the ability of the liquid glass to bond.
- Liquid glass may react with highly acidic antifreeze to form a gel.
- Cooling systems are hot. Let cool before opening.
- Cooling systems are pressurised. Open the radiator cap slowly to relieve pressure.
- Antifreeze is toxic. Dispose of properly.
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