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Old 01-01-2016, 08:53 AM   #1
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Checking coolant reservoir

I had a coolant leak recently and replaced thermostat housing and sensor. I estimate I fused 1-2 gallons of distilled water over a few weeks to keep the reservoir full before I replaced the thermostat housing.

How is the best way to check the protection level I currently have? Does the coolant in the reservoir mix completely with the radiator after warming to normal temps? I know my ratio is low and trying to estimate how much new coolant to add to get back to 50/50.

Maybe a better question is - how many cycles does it take for the fluid from the reservoir to mix completely? I would think it would take a few before everything got mixed and you need to wait a while before you can check the fluid mix with the tester.
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Old 01-01-2016, 01:04 PM   #2
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They do sell a tool for checking your anti-freeze strength, but I wouldn't worry about it. I think the total coolant capacity is something like 13 quarts, or a little over 3 gallons. You say you added 1-2 gallons of distilled water to keep from overheating (which was good in a pinch). I would probably just drain what you have in the system and start fresh. Mix your own 50/50 and refill. After that you should be fine.

As far as the mixing goes, our Mustangs use a reseviour, or expansion tank, so it can take quite a while for coolant from the tank to actually enter the coolant system. but if your system had a leak, and was low, it would enter the system almost immediately. Thus my statement about about draining what you have and starting over. Inside the radiator/block it mixes completely real fast, as it's being pushed around and mixed by the water pump. Water from the reseviour is only added to the system when the rest of the system is low, or the hot coolant returns to the reseviour when you shut the engine off and it needs someplace to go due to the pressure built up.

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-02-2016, 07:25 AM   #3
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So some of the hot coolant from the radiator fills the expansion tank reservoir when you shut off the engine. It also supplies coolant as needed. I understand.

Let's say the radiator was full and the expansion tank was empty. What would happen if you filled the expansion tank with straight antifreeze. If only a small amount is taken when needed, then it would take many cycles for it to actually mix. I basically did this yesterday and tested the protection after 2 cycles. Based on the readings, it must have mixed fairly quickly. I am going to monitor for the next few days.
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:59 AM   #4
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Intresting experiment. Personally I've never tried it. If the radiator was full, and the expansion tank was empty, I would think that the coolant concentration in the previously empty resesiour would be higher than that in the radiator. I agree that eventually the entire contents of the tank would mix with the radiator, but I would think it would take some time and several on-off cycles to accompish this. As long as the system is now full, and you have no more leaks, I would go ahead and run it this way. It appears you already have a concentration meter so it sounds like you have all the bases covered. Let me know how the experiment goes.

On a side note, have you considered replacing the stock plastic thermostat housing with an all aluminum one available on Amazon.com? They are pricey, but you never have to worry about it again.

Best of luck!

Glenn
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Old 01-02-2016, 08:36 PM   #5
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Instead of guessing, etc., why not just drain some off the bottom of the radiator, test it and pour it back in?
If you find you need more coolant, calculate your needs based on tested strength vs. capacity of system and add appropriate amount of full strength as required.
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