remedy for radiator/engine rust??

Messages
13
Location
Sac, CA
Got a situation with a '99 Mazda Protege 320k miles that keeps rusting out the radiator. Local shop says that water must've got into the engine at some point and that rust in the engine will keep spreading into the radiator. No way to remedy it. Their recommendation is to put a new engine in it if I want to keep it on the road. Does that sound right? Any incite to offer? As it is I'm adding about 2 cups of fluid each morning I need to drive. Not in a position to consider replacing the car...engine swap even would be really hard.
 
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25,045
Location
ON, Canada eh?
Check the grounds from the body to the engine and engine/body to the battery. Make sure they are clean and corrosion free. I would take them off and clean them and put them back in place to make sure. (Sandpaper or Emery cloth works great!) Also have the system flushed, then drained and refilled with the proper coolant / proper ratio of distilled/de-ionized water for your climate. I would even throw in a bottle of "Gunk" brand cooling system lubricant to keep further rust from accumulating in the system. Good luck! \:\!
 
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35,995
Location
ME
So is the radiator staying watertight but filling with rust? Or is it itself corroding and leaking (what I think)? I agree with StevieC. ^ You can also try changing out to pure water every day for a week, if there is rust in the system, then finally changing to antifreeze.
 
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16,178
Location
Silicon Valley
How's the ground of the engine? I've read somewhere that if the engine is not grounded the current can go through the coolant and it would prematurely wear it out, render it useless as a corrosion inhibitor.
 
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5,532
Location
Canada
I think I would fit one of those Hose adapters that fit in a heater hose, and back flush the Hades out of it!
 
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21,662
Location
Apple Valley, California
What usually happens is that the antifreeze goes bad and becomes an acid. It will attack the cooling system and cause rust. There's really no way to stop it once it starts other than engine removal and disassembly so that it can be put in a caustic solution that will eat the rust.
 
Messages
962
Location
San Antonio, Texas
I've worked on quite a few cars with this problem. Below is the process I used that seemed to help the most if not stop the problem. 1. Clean every ground you can find and the terminals on the battery. 2. Pull out the thermostat 3. Put some Prestone or other flush in the system and fill it back up with water 4. Start the car and let it run for a while. Then drive around for 10 or 15 minutes with the heater on full blast. 5. come back and let the car cool down 6. pull the radiator and have it tanked to completely clean it out. Fix or replace it if it's leaking 7. While the radiator is out backflush the [censored] out of the system until no more junk is coming out and the water is clear. 8. Check all the hoses for interior cracking or sludge. Replace if needed. 9. Put the radiator back in 10. Put a new thermostat in 11. Fill with 30% coolant, 70% deionized water, & a bottle of Redline Water Wetter 12. Make sure to burp the system 13. New radiator cap 14. After a drive cycle or two check to see if anymore water needs to be put in This process has served me very well in the past.
 
Last edited:

eflat

Thread starter
Messages
13
Location
Sac, CA
Wow, thanks for all the advice. The battery does have some corrosion on it. I had no idea about that association. I'll check the other grounds, too.
 
Messages
16,178
Location
Silicon Valley
 Originally Posted By: AdRock
I've worked on quite a few cars with this problem. Below is the process I used that seemed to help the most if not stop the problem. 1. Clean every ground you can find and the terminals on the battery. 2. Pull out the thermostat 3. Put some Prestone or other flush in the system and fill it back up with water 4. Start the car and let it run for a while. Then drive around for 10 or 15 minutes with the heater on full blast. 5. come back and let the car cool down 6. pull the radiator and have it tanked to completely clean it out. Fix or replace it if it's leaking 7. While the radiator is out backflush the [censored] out of the system until no more junk is coming out and the water is clear. 8. Check all the hoses for interior cracking or sludge. Replace if needed. 9. Put the radiator back in 10. Put a new thermostat in 11. Fill with 30% coolant, 70% deionized water, & a bottle of Redline Water Wetter 12. Make sure to burp the system 13. New radiator cap 14. After a drive cycle or two check to see if anymore water needs to be put in This process has served me very well in the past.
Can't you just backflush the system with a garden hose when you have the T stat out? and why a formula of 30% coolant and water wetter? why not just 50% coolant?
 
Messages
25,045
Location
ON, Canada eh?
 Originally Posted By: eflat
Wow, thanks for all the advice. The battery does have some corrosion on it. I had no idea about that association. I'll check the other grounds, too.
I wouldn of never thought too... But I had electrical problems with my Pontiac 6000 and it caused the radiator to rust and rot out. \:\!
 
Messages
35,995
Location
ME
You can check for electrolysis by sticking one voltmeter probe in your open radiator cap and the other to ground. Should have 0.00. It's also possible your rad itself is not meant to be grounded if it's in rubber mounts so don't go adding one-- just fix the others.
 
Messages
962
Location
San Antonio, Texas
 Originally Posted By: PandaBear
 Originally Posted By: AdRock
I've worked on quite a few cars with this problem. Below is the process I used that seemed to help the most if not stop the problem. 1. Clean every ground you can find and the terminals on the battery. 2. Pull out the thermostat 3. Put some Prestone or other flush in the system and fill it back up with water 4. Start the car and let it run for a while. Then drive around for 10 or 15 minutes with the heater on full blast. 5. come back and let the car cool down 6. pull the radiator and have it tanked to completely clean it out. Fix or replace it if it's leaking 7. While the radiator is out backflush the [censored] out of the system until no more junk is coming out and the water is clear. 8. Check all the hoses for interior cracking or sludge. Replace if needed. 9. Put the radiator back in 10. Put a new thermostat in 11. Fill with 30% coolant, 70% deionized water, & a bottle of Redline Water Wetter 12. Make sure to burp the system 13. New radiator cap 14. After a drive cycle or two check to see if anymore water needs to be put in This process has served me very well in the past.
Can't you just backflush the system with a garden hose when you have the T stat out? and why a formula of 30% coolant and water wetter? why not just 50% coolant?
Yes you can backflush with the garden hose. That's how I've always done it. One thing I used to have, don't know where it went, was a fitting I made that would let me clamp the upper radiator around the end of the garden hose that way all water pressure was forced through the block. But yea, put the garden hose into the upper radiator hose with the thermostat out and turn it on full blast and let it run. As for the Watter Wetter, it works best with less antifreeze in the system. Here's a think from Redlines site, pretty informative and easier than me typing it all out, give it a watch. http://www.redlineoil.com/products_coolant.asp?subCategoryID=4&coolantFlash=1 Depending on the climate you live in and how often you see temps that could cause freezing in the cooling system, that can change how much antifreeze is needed in the system. Use enough to keep the system from freezing on cold days or nights but no more. The rest should be the water wetter and distilled or deionized water. A lot of people see the water wetter as another snake oil but I've had good luck with it and know other people that have also. For $8, even if it doesn't work for you it's worth a try. It won't hurt anything.
 
Last edited:

eflat

Thread starter
Messages
13
Location
Sac, CA
 Originally Posted By: eljefino
You can check for electrolysis by sticking one voltmeter probe in your open radiator cap and the other to ground. Should have 0.00.
small update w/ setback: I'm not too swift with a voltmeter, but I was getting fluctuating readings around .2 and saw a high of .3 at one point. I figured I could at least clean the terminals and cables so I pulled the battery and used baking soda and water. The positive cable was really nasty and I just kinda dunked it in a cup of solution, brushed and rinsed with clear water as best I could. Tried to catch overflow with paper towels. Put everything back...argh, car won't start. Just clicks. Test battery; 12.6 volts. Kicking self, figure I got something wet. Dried what I could, let sit. About 4-5 hours later, it started. Drove a little rough, like idling low. Pull into garage, turn off, try restart. No go, argh again. Actually no click even. Not even getting a dome light. Battery still 12+ volts. Is there still something wet or did I kill something? Hmmm...just a thought, but I didn't try pulling battery and drying under that...man, this is not my forte!
 
Messages
962
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Have the battery and the charging system checked. Sounds like the battery could be on the way out. Also, check all the grounds. If a ground is bad it can cause the a low voltage situation and not have enough juice to start the vehicle. Also, did you use a plastic bristle or metal bristle brush?
 

eflat

Thread starter
Messages
13
Location
Sac, CA
 Originally Posted By: AdRock
Also, did you use a plastic bristle or metal bristle brush?
old nylon bristle toothbrush
 
Messages
962
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Clean the battery posts and cable ends with a metal bristle brush. The nylon won't take off the thin that's still on them. You want to see fresh metal on the surfaces that will be touching. Stop by an auto parts store and get a battery terminal cleaner with metal bristles. When cleaning battery cable connections & grounds & such you always want to use metal bristles and see fresh metal.
 

eflat

Thread starter
Messages
13
Location
Sac, CA
Well, that seems to have worked. The steel wool was probably less than ideal but I started and stopped the car a couple times. Catching my breath to regroup now...
 
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