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Old 01-26-2012, 08:52 AM   #1
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Default How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

My car has some front end damage, radiator got punctured, coolant leaked out. Car runs and drives. I got it towed home. The closest auto body shop is about 1.5 miles away. Can I drive my car that distance to the body shop for an estimate? How safe is it to run an engine that has no coolant circulating through and will the water pump burn out running dry for this short duration? Naturally I would coast and not run the engine at traffic lights.

I'm more concerned about the water pump taking damage but they are inexpensive and should it go out it would be cheaper than getting another tow.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:37 AM   #2
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

If you're broke, have your friend tow you there with a rope. (remember the steering wheel lock)

If your car has an automatic trans, and the rad is destroyed, do not drive the car.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

Manual, no one with a toe strap or truck or platform. Plus, that's very illegal in Chicago. Improper cargo transport and such, hefty fine.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

I wouldn't drive it at all with no coolant. At least put water in it, and carry plenty of extra in the car.

I would ask a neighbor to drive you to a parts store so you can buy some coolant. At least a thin coolant-to-water mix is better than water, and even water is better than nothing.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

Toe? Haha just messing with you man. How far do you think the body shop is?
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

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How far do you think the body shop is?
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The closest auto body shop is about 1.5 miles away.
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

The hood is stuck I cant lift it so I cant pour in coolant. I'm about to go back to the car and inspect it for subframe damage and see if I can pop the hood. But the radiator is pretty bent up, I'm sure it has a large crack in it.

How is driving without coolant any different than driving with a cold engine before the thermostate valve opens? Besides the coolant channels being empty.


Took a look, the top and bottom radiator plastic part is cracked. dont see any warping or frame damage or subframe damage. so far so good.

Last edited by Whatislove; 01-26-2012 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

A mile and a half? I'd just push it, to be honest (bearing in mind that its not all uphill).
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

If you can drive there in less than 5 minutes you're probably ok, anymore than that and you're just asking for a warped head. Honestly the water pump would be the least of my worries, I'd be much more concerned with the inevitable severe overheating that's going to happen and what that will do to the block, rings and head.
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

i'll see if i can tow it with my insurance, i think i get 4 per 6 months
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:04 PM   #11
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

yea dude just tow it for crying out loud.. whats more expensive the towing?? or a blown damaged motor??
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:18 PM   #12
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

if your gonna get your front end fixed the just cut a hole where the rad cap is and pour it in, trust me engines arnt cheap, especially for 15 mins of work to save a ton more
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:39 PM   #13
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

I'm actually gonna pick up a radiator for $30 this weekend and zip tie it in place and drive with that. Need to start taking off damaged components.
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:06 PM   #14
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

Does this subframe look bent? I cant tell, not sure how it's supposed to look

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:17 PM   #15
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

No AAA man you aint playing right. its only 80 bucks a year even my broke *** can afford it. I say drive it there you already took a chance not having triple A might as well take another chance. whats the worst thing that can happen you already ran out of options.lol
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:28 PM   #16
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

My .02... you will be fine, but don't push it more then needed to just get there.
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:07 AM   #17
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

amazing how many people will tell you to drive it.. maybe its because its not their car.. i doubt theyd drive their car with no coolant and if they would i laugh cuz it only takes a few minutes to do irreversible damage..
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:08 AM   #18
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

btw thats super bent dude.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:55 AM   #19
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

Ask the estimator to drive 1.5 miles to your place and look at it. Then if you're gonna have it fixed they can probably tow it.
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:19 AM   #20
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

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amazing how many people will tell you to drive it.. maybe its because its not their car.. i doubt theyd drive their car with no coolant and if they would i laugh cuz it only takes a few minutes to do irreversible damage..
Been there done that and much worse. Did what I had to do and I caused no additional damage.

If I had not experienced something similar I would have not had .02 to throw in on this subject, but thank you for having no opinion but to cut down (I guess) people trying to give advice.

OP: I do agree that is bent.
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Last edited by wittynamessuck; 01-27-2012 at 11:20 AM. Reason: added info
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:50 AM   #21
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

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Does this subframe look bent?

I'd have to look at mine for comparison ... but that certainly doesn't look normal.
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:48 PM   #22
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

don't drive it, lift the hood super hard, try and break it, pour coolant than drive it over.
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:55 PM   #23
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

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Been there done that and much worse. Did what I had to do and I caused no additional damage.

If I had not experienced something similar I would have not had .02 to throw in on this subject, but thank you for having no opinion but to cut down (I guess) people trying to give advice.

OP: I do agree that is bent.
oh yes that was it.. i did give him the most logical and common sense advice, TOW IT.. but whatever drive your car with no coolant and take a risk and while your at it play russian roulette.. maybe you win maybe you dont. lol i swear..
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:41 PM   #24
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

I'm going to the car tomorrow and going to start taking off damaged parts.

I see no warping around the firewall, frame rails, strut area or where the bumper core is attached to. upper and lower rad support is f'd

Click the image to open in full size.


its not as bad as it looks. I'm planning on ghetto fixing it. new bumper, core, hood, bumper cover, radiator. junkyard parts will only cost me $120
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:35 AM   #25
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Default Re: How safe is it to run an engine without coolant

I can assure you that the frame rails are bent, just looking at how much deflection is on the crash bar. Plus, you'll need a lot more then the parts you just listed. Headlights probably have broken tabs now, your subframe is more than likely bent, that massively bent thing in front of your radiator is an A/C condenser, I'm guessing your radiator and condenser fans are both messed up as well, and your low front engine mount might also need replacement.

PS. If that's a sticker on your bumper, then I can't help but ask... did you put it there ironically?
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