Putting flavoured water into car coolant system (accidentally).

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Supermassive_muse_fan
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Hi,

The temperature sign came up whilst I was driving to uni (stopped in hard shoulder for a bit and then drove again and it went off), and on the way back home I decided to check the coolant level and saw that it was below the minimum line. Luckily had some coolant in the boot, but it needed mixing with water so in a rush bought water from the petrol station to mix with concentrated coolant... wondered why the coolant smelt like strawberries and realised I'd used strawberry flavoured water

So will it damage my car? (Its a VW TDi) - would anyone suggest doing anything like a coolant system flush or something? :confused:

Thanks.
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+ polarity -
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I don't know much about cars, but having thought about it, I don't think it will damage your car. Presumably as the coolant gets 'used up', the strawberry flavouring will just precipitate out and stick to the pipes?
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Riderz
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(Original post by + polarity -)
I don't know much about cars, but having thought about it, I don't think it will damage your car. Presumably as the coolant gets 'used up', the strawberry flavouring will just precipitate out and stick the pipes?
Coolant doesnt get used up. Or shouldnt, in a healthy engine.


Anyway, OP, it probably wont hurt. I doubt it will do much good, but it shouldnt do any harm either.
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StartSomething
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At least your car will smell of strawberries
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Camoxide
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I would drain it and start again...
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initiation
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(Original post by Camoxide)
I would drain it and start again...
This, maybe give it a quick flush through as well. I would guess everything would be fine though.
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JC.
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(Original post by Supermassive_muse_fan)
Hi,

The temperature sign came up whilst I was driving to uni (stopped in hard shoulder for a bit and then drove again and it went off), and on the way back home I decided to check the coolant level and saw that it was below the minimum line. Luckily had some coolant in the boot, but it needed mixing with water so in a rush bought water from the petrol station to mix with concentrated coolant... wondered why the coolant smelt like strawberries and realised I'd used strawberry flavoured water

So will it damage my car? (Its a VW TDi) - would anyone suggest doing anything like a coolant system flush or something? :confused:

Thanks.
Now we've got the silly comments out of the way, unlike some folk, i'll actually bother to help you.

Other than water there was only a teeny bit of sugar in there so in reality there's nothing in there that's going to make any difference. I wouldn't *keep* toping it up with strawberry water, but it'll actually be totally fine.

Stop worrying about it but use the tap next time.
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mphysical
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I think your bigger worries would be:
Why was my car overheating and why was the coolant low.

Just "below minimum" should not cause overheating problems.
Coolant capacity is about 5-6 litres and you topped up with a little pop bottle about 0.5l ? hardly significant.

I would check the fan and thermostat are working.
How old is the car? The radiator may need flushing.

Do you know the oil's level and age.
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Jeester
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If coolant is leaking out you should check it's not mixed with your oil as this is a sign that you have blown your head gasket.

This can happen through continuous over revving - You are a girl so it wouldn't surprise me.
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Lee_831
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Hi,

Firstly, No flavoured water should not do any harm, but I wouldn't do it again! The water does not get 'used' and circulates around the engine and radiator, so the added strawberry flavour should have no detrimental effects unless it reacts with the coolant (which I doubt).

However, like other posts have said, the coolant level will not just suddenly drop for no reason. Either there is a leak somewhere (radiator, water pump, hoses), or the head gasket is allowing water to escape.

Seeing as the car overheated, I would suggest that the coolant system be checked over to ensure that there are no leaks or blockages, the thermostat and fan are working, and there are no problems with the head gasket.
A quick check of this is to see if there is a white mayonnaise-like substance underneath the oil cap, or if there is any oily residue in the water.
I would suggest that you don't drive the car very far until these are investigated.

Should any of these parts need changing then the coolant should be drained and replaced anyway, solving your problem with the strawberry water!

Hope this helps,
Lee
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Supermassive_muse_fan
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(Original post by JC.)
Now we've got the silly comments out of the way, unlike some folk, i'll actually bother to help you.

Other than water there was only a teeny bit of sugar in there so in reality there's nothing in there that's going to make any difference. I wouldn't *keep* toping it up with strawberry water, but it'll actually be totally fine.

Stop worrying about it but use the tap next time.
Hmm I was wondering if the sugar precipitate could cause any damage, but couldn't think of anything (but then I don't really know much about engines). Haha yes I think I'll stick of normal water from now on Thank you much appreciated.

(Original post by mphysical)
I think your bigger worries would be:
Why was my car overheating and why was the coolant low.

Just "below minimum" should not cause overheating problems.
Coolant capacity is about 5-6 litres and you topped up with a little pop bottle about 0.5l ? hardly significant.

I would check the fan and thermostat are working.
How old is the car? The radiator may need flushing.

Do you know the oil's level and age.
Hmm it's 8 years old, I don't know when the last time was the radiator was flushed. I only topped it on with coolant about 4 months ago - and seems like that isn't normal at all. I top up the oil when it needs it, but otherwise service it fully yearly where they do all the oil changes etc. But thank you, I hadn't considered checking the oil and thermostat but I'll book it in so they can check those out. Thanks

(Original post by Jeester)
If coolant is leaking out you should check it's not mixed with your oil as this is a sign that you have blown your head gasket.

This can happen through continuous over revving - You are a girl so it wouldn't surprise me.
What other signs would there be of a blown gasket? Don't really rev all that much.

(Original post by Lee_831)
Hi,

Firstly, No flavoured water should not do any harm, but I wouldn't do it again! The water does not get 'used' and circulates around the engine and radiator, so the added strawberry flavour should have no detrimental effects unless it reacts with the coolant (which I doubt).

However, like other posts have said, the coolant level will not just suddenly drop for no reason. Either there is a leak somewhere (radiator, water pump, hoses), or the head gasket is allowing water to escape.

Seeing as the car overheated, I would suggest that the coolant system be checked over to ensure that there are no leaks or blockages, the thermostat and fan are working, and there are no problems with the head gasket.
A quick check of this is to see if there is a white mayonnaise-like substance underneath the oil cap, or if there is any oily residue in the water.
I would suggest that you don't drive the car very far until these are investigated.

Should any of these parts need changing then the coolant should be drained and replaced anyway, solving your problem with the strawberry water!

Hope this helps,
Lee
Thank you +ve repped! That was very helpful. I think it was a bit of a blessing to accidentally add strawberry flavoured water as it's brought some of these issues to light. There hasn't been a mayonnaisey residue but I'm worried about the oil/coolant leakage. But thanks again very much appreciated!
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CurlyBen
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I'd stick a piece of cardboard under your engine overnight before worrying too much about head gaskets. Anything leaking will be obvious the next morning. If the car's kept outside you might have to wait a few days though!
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Hoody555
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Keep checking the coolant level. Take the oil cap off the top of the engine and see if the oil has turned into a milky/yellowish colour. If it has, that is a sign of HG failure...

Unfortunately this happened to me, thats what I get for assuming the "CHECK COOLANT LEVEL" warning my car was giving me was a faulty reading and ignoring it. What a fool I am..
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M4LLY
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Its just water with flavourings in it, in a car thats mechanically sound it won't use up much coolant anyways so you should be fine.
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Boristhethird
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id do a flush to stay on the same side, as you basically put sugar into the coolant system.

they're nice and easy to do yourself (well on a bike they are, i cant see a car being harder).
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JC.
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(Original post by Boristhethird)
id do a flush to stay on the same side, as you basically put sugar into the coolant system.

they're nice and easy to do yourself (well on a bike they are, i cant see a car being harder).
Coolant change for a couple of drops of sugar? Nah. Don't be silly.
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Boristhethird
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(Original post by JC.)
Coolant change for a couple of drops of sugar? Nah. Don't be silly.
she says the coolant was low, unless there is an actual leak it would imply the coolant is quite old (and leaked out over time) and therefore wants replacing.

but yes thinking about it, that much sugar wont hurt it (especially in a car where they'll be 5l of other water to dilute it).
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Boristhethird
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(Original post by Supermassive_muse_fan)
Hmm it's 8 years old, I don't know when the last time was the radiator was flushed. I only topped it on with coolant about 4 months ago - and seems like that isn't normal at all. I top up the oil when it needs it, but otherwise service it fully yearly where they do all the oil changes etc. But thank you, I hadn't considered checking the oil and thermostat but I'll book it in so they can check those out. Thanks
most coolants want to be changed every 4 years from what i remember (though i may be wrong, again, this is what my bike demands)


What other signs would there be of a blown gasket? Don't really rev all that much.
a milky substance in the oil (look for a white liquid on the dip stick)
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JC.
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(Original post by Boristhethird)
she says the coolant was low, unless there is an actual leak it would imply the coolant is quite old (and leaked out over time) and therefore wants replacing.

but yes thinking about it, that much sugar wont hurt it (especially in a car where they'll be 5l of other water to dilute it).
Lack of maintainence over time is quite a seperate issue, eh!
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Livvy3000
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(Original post by mphysical)
I think your bigger worries would be:
Why was my car overheating and why was the coolant low.

Just "below minimum" should not cause overheating problems.
Coolant capacity is about 5-6 litres and you topped up with a little pop bottle about 0.5l ? hardly significant.

I would check the fan and thermostat are working.
How old is the car? The radiator may need flushing.

Do you know the oil's level and age.
You can buy 1 L bottles of strawberry water!
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