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Brown coolant

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Old 07-28-2009, 06:38 PM   #1
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Brown coolant

Drained coolant. Didn't pay attention what color it was.

Replaced head gaskets.

Filled coolant.

Had to drain coolant a day later to get at power steering pump.

Coolant was brown.

Filled coolant.

Had to drain a day later to get at F&*%# power steering pump again.

Coolant was brown AGAIN.

I starting stressing so I checked compression on all cylinders to make sure block wasn't bad, or I didn't fart up the HG job. Cylinder pressures ranged from 160-170psi.

What would cause the coolant to turn brown in a day? There is no coolant in my oil. I've heard of the tranny fluid mixing with it if the radiator is faulty, but my radiator is less than a year old.

I can't tell if there is any oil or fluid in it, it just looks brown.

What do you guys think?
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Old 07-28-2009, 06:48 PM   #2
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rust, dirt
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Old 07-28-2009, 07:21 PM   #3
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If you have an automatic trans check the fluid and see if there is any antifreeze in it, if so your radiator is bad and your trans is on its way to being toast. If its not any of these things then give your cooling system a good flush, you may need to do it more than once if its real bad.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:02 PM   #4
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If you have an automatic trans check the fluid and see if there is any antifreeze in it, if so your radiator is bad and your trans is on its way to being toast. If its not any of these things then give your cooling system a good flush, you may need to do it more than once if its real bad.
Does the tranny fluid only get cooled if it is an auto?
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:16 PM   #5
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Does the tranny fluid only get cooled if it is an auto?
Yes, an automatic transmission has oil cooler lines that run to the radiator and that cools the transmission fluid, it is possible for the trans cooler in the radiator to leak, its not a common thing to happen, but it can. if you have a manual transmission then there are no oil cooler lines going to the radiator.
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:38 PM   #6
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With those compression numbers, I'm assuming 3vze engine? Sounds like a badly rusted system. Were you using Toyota RED coolant?
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:39 AM   #7
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I can't say what coolant the guy before me was using, but I was using Peak 50/50 green.

I took a closer look at the old coolant that I drained. I couldn't notice any petroleum products floating in it or that film that gas or oil leaves when mixed with water.

To be sure, I poured some oil and some tranny fluid into the old antifreeze. It did not mix at all with the antifreeze (as expected). It just sat on top.

So with that experiment, and the high compression numbers. I'm 99% sure (as TNRabbit said) it is just a rusty system OR the previous owner used some stop-leak antifreeze which is known to discolor antil-freeze (especially brown).

The good news is, I will have flushed it 3 times (which it sounded like it needed) !
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:00 AM   #8
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DO NOT USE THAT COOLANT! Get some Toyota Red NOW~
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:18 AM   #9
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When I first bought my truck, I flushed it a few times; all brown. The guy before me had not taken very good care of the cooling system.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:51 AM   #10
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DO NOT USE THAT COOLANT! Get some Toyota Red NOW~
Rabbit, tell me more. I asked the Moose's knuckle at Vatozone to look up my rig and he said Green coolant. So he was wrong? Ok, good to know. Does the manual call out red?

There is a stealership right by my house, so getting some red should be easy. Thanks.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:12 AM   #11
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In my experience fresh coolant turning brown quickly is from rust sediment in little nooks and crannies of the cooling system. It can be very hard to flush out. I've had that problem with a used Taurus I bought.

I never had any problem with Prestone and distilled water in my Toyota.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:34 AM   #12
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After all the trouble with the cooling system in the Impala using Dexcool, I will NEVER EVER EVER use "long life" coolants EVER again.

Replacing the green stuff every couple years is a helluva lot easier than replacing the entire cooling system.

... and x2 on distilled water. Especially if you're using the long life coolants!
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Old 07-30-2009, 01:32 AM   #13
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Toyota Red is designed for ALUMINUM engine parts. Green coolant WILL result in corrosion of the head & any associated aluminum internals. To quote:

ANTIFREEZE - VERY Important - glad I didn't forget this. Don't make the same mistake I did by using the green antifreeze. One day I looked and my coolant had turned completely rusty. The green stuff contains silicates and japanese engines hate silicates. If the coolant gets tired your block will very badly corrode. Stick with the Toyota Red coolant, which has a very different chemistry made especially for your motor. If the truck currently has green, yellow or orange coolant, you have to be very careful to thoroughly flush all traces out of it with several changes of water before filing with 50-50 Toyota Red and DISTILLED water. The different coolant types do NOT mix well. Also, tap water will cause scale and can cause corrosive byproducts to form. Stick with distilled water only. Your last flush should likewise be with distilled water, as some will remain in the heater core and various nooks and crannies. There is a draincock on the side of the motor and it helps to pull the heater hose to get a good flush.
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Old 07-30-2009, 04:34 AM   #14
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Well I agree with the distilled water part. IMHO electrolysis is the main cause of pitting in aluminum cooling system parts. Distilled water has the ions removed and its the ions in water that cause it to conduct electricity.

http://www.radiatorreporter.com/electrol.html
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Old 07-30-2009, 05:06 AM   #15
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I checked the Prestone website; they claim their antifreeze/coolant does not harm aluminum parts.
The reason I checked is I just installed my first aluminum radiator. And of course those fragile 3.0 heads.
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Old 07-30-2009, 06:19 AM   #16
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Sounds like you have the red coolant and a bunch of dirt in there, my runner is a dark red brown yuck looking thing. I have not had a chance to flush yet.
A bit of reading for ya all: http://www.aa1car.com/library/2004/us120426.htm
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Old 07-30-2009, 02:41 PM   #17
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well my 22r was filled with hose water and no coolant for probably 10 yrs of its life. Once i got it, it took me very long time to get the coolant to stay clean.

when i took the head off and looked in the cooling passages of my block, i coudl see all the buildup/rust.

like a true champ though it still runs fine
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Old 07-30-2009, 02:42 PM   #18
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Coolant chemistry and brands is a confusing topic because there's so much contradictory information. Seems different people have different experiences in different engines. This was my experience with Prestone in the 3vze (from this post: http://www.yotatech.com/f116/mixing-.../#post51153406 )

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I wouldn't mix them. There are differences in the corrosion inhibitors and such that adding one type to another may reduce the effectiveness of the inhibitors resulting in premature failure of components such as water pump and radiator.
That's exactly right. All commonly-available antifreezes are based on ethylene glycol; it's the corrosion inhibitor chemistry that is different and potentially incompatible.

I learned this only after I opened my radiator one day and found the coolant completely opaque and shot through with rust. I had replaced toyota red with prestone, and didn't do a very good job flushing, and I probably used tap water also. I now know that both actions caused chemical reactions that basically used up the corrosion protection chemicals (the silicates) in the new coolant. So the coolant had little corrosion protection and ph buffering capacity, and soon turned acidic, leading to the block getting completely rusted.

Toyota Red uses a phosphate anti-corrosion chemistry. The green stuff uses silicates. Both are inorganic chemistries, but they are incompatible. Phosphates do especially well with iron, and do fine with aluminum, and with copper/brass/lead radiators and heater cores. All Japanese carmakers prefer phosphates.

Silicates (prestone green) are particularly good with aluminum, not as good with iron, and do fine with copper/brass/lead. They are slightly abrasive, and are slightly more likely than phosphates to cause leaks in water pump seals. European carmakers prefer silicates.

The problem with phosphates in particular is that they are the least compatible chemistry - mixing with the minerals in tap water or with a different coolant type will cause the phosphates to precipitate out and clog radiator passages, while at the same time your corrosion protection goes bye-bye.

But both inorganic chemistries must be replaced every two years because the corrosion protection wears out.

Then there came a new type, based on organic acids (so-called OAT types), such as most of the new long life coolants like Dexcool. These are a bad choice for older vehicles because they will corrode copper/brass/lead radiators, and because the OATs react very strongly and harmfully with the inorganics.

In an attempt to address that issue, there came a new type called "Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT). Those include your Prestone yellow, Zerex G-05, and the new Toyota pink (though that is somewhat in a class of its own). The HOATS combine an organic acid (different than the one in DexCool) with inorganic inhibitors. All the HOATs use silicates except Toyota Pink, which uses phosphates. That's why Toyota says it's okay to mix pink & red.

Theoretically, the HOATs are okay to mix with any coolant, but I think only time will prove whether that's true, and I think it is foolish to test their theory in your engine. I remember DexCool was hyped as a cure-all when it came out, too. HOAT chemistry is still acid-based, and for that reason I think you probably don't want to use them in an older vehicle that has copper/brass/lead radiators and heater cores (such as ours). That goes even for the toyota pink. Both the OATs and the HOATs were designed for aluminum rads & heater cores.

If someone doesn't know what type of coolant was in their motor, they should FULLY flush every spec of coolant out, which can take six or more flushes. Be sure to open all the drains (including the one on the block if you can get at it) and make sure your heater temp is all the way to hot to enable the coolant to be washed out of the heater core, too. Helps also to remove the thermostat on a 3vze - don't know about the 22re.

As far as the proper coolant to use, I recommend what Toyota designed for the motor: Toyota Red coolant. Mix it 50/50 with distilled water. Don't under any circumstances use an OAT coolant. Some will say HOATs are okay. I think that assertion is iffy, and anyway it is unproven. Many will say green silicate-based coolants are okay. But Japanese car makers intentionally never used silicates in their engines - they used phosphates instead. Why not use the coolant that was designed for your engine? It's not THAT expensive, and you only have to change it every two years.

Last edited by sb5walker; 07-30-2009 at 02:53 PM.
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