I am a poor farmer and can not afford anti-freeze for this cold winter in the North East. To get around this poverty and to continue using my tractor to farm and plow snow off my lane, I put hot tap water in the tractor radiator just before I use it each day. At the end of each work day, I drain the engine through the radiator petcock. My tractor starts easily with this warm water in the engine block on frigid mornings. My wealthy neighbors who use anti-freeze say that I am crazy because they claim that adding very warm water to a cold engine will crack the engine block just as adding cold water to an overheated engine will crack an engine block. Yes, I know that I live in poverty, but am I hurting the engine too? The water that I use is not boiling, just hot out of the kitchen faucet. Advice please?

I think you are crazy, but not because of possible damage due to the water temperature, but rather because it is not anti-freeze it is coolant. Water does not make as good a coolant as real coolant. It also tends to help corrosion while coolant reduces it. It is also a lot more work than I would want to save a few $$.

Normally I would take the OP as a Troll, but most trolls don’t join in and offer good advice to others.

You can buy generic antifreeze for less than $8 a gallon. It will last you two years. It has corrosion inhibitors that will prevent rust in your cooling system. Your effort to save money by using water could backfire if it costs you in a new radiator and a new water pump. Also, antifreeze is a better coolant than water.

Corrosion will be a problem. In addition, you can’t effectively drain the block by draining the radiator.

If you can PM me and send me your address I’ll send you the money to get the antifreeze!

You ain’t crackin nuthin. Stop rusting your engine. Get the money by cleaning out the couch. Be nice to the wealthy neighbors and they will hand you money. Some republicans don’t mind giving and would be extremely charitable if the government left them something to be charitable with. I’ve heard them talking.

Your nutso neighbors might be wealthy but they don’t know beans about materials. There is no way you are going to bother your metal engine block by pouring hot water on it.

I agree with everyone above who urges you to get some antifreeze, but until you do you can continue your current methods with confidence.

Yeah, but if it’s a 10+ gallon cooling system, that can be kind of spendy.

Most auto recyclers, or you may call them junkyards sell used coolant by the gallon. This is a mix of 50/50 water/antifreeze for 50 cents a gallon. So for $5.00, you could fill the system and have protection against freezing, and not have to go through the motions that you do now.


from a slightly different slant, since you are a man of the soil, and work long hard hours; how much time does this take to do each time you fill and drain it? maybe a half hour each time it is below freezing?

how many hours is that WASTED time costing you. what is your time worth? think of how much more you could do each day, if you didn’t have to waste this time filling, draining and worrying about this?

not to think of bad scenarios BUT, what would happen if you got sick and COULDN"T go outside to drain this thing (maybe if you got hit by a cold snap while you were sick, and had the flue, and were in the hospital?) then the tractor would be totally useless.

sometimes that ten bucks spent on antifreeze sounds like cheap insurance, and it would give you more time to get useful stuff done on the homestead.

Plain water in a sleeved cylinder engine will result in pitting on the outer surface of the sleeve as the water boils away. Making the sleeve difficult to remove should you ever want to.

It cost a lot of money to heat water. Think of that?

I am not sure this is really a serious post, but I will assume it is. We always did what you are doing with our tractors in the winter. They were designed to work on water and the thermostats were set up for water. I have been off the farm for a long time and wonder if that is the case today. Assuming you are just draining the radiator and not the block (a separate valve) the hot water may not be as hazardous as your neighbors think, but I wouldn’t take the chance. Switch to antifreeze.

I don’t believe this poster. How come he/she is using a computer to post here?
Sell your computer and buy some anti-freeze.

That isn’t fair. The OP might be posting on an older computer. He might also be posting from a public library. I can buy an old Pentium II from the local community college for $20. A computer also has value for his children’s education. It might have even been given to him when a family member upgraded.

As someone who has spent time voluntarily teaching computer classes at Goodwill, I can tell you that even the poorest family should have a computer. Poor families need to fight cultural barriers to upward mobility and they can do this by buying an old computer and having other reading materials in the home. They also need to ignore people with ignorant attitudes who would keep them down because of their incorrect assumptions.

Go to a garage and ask them if you can have a few gallons of used anti-freeze. Hopefully it won’t be real gloppy. Then go to an Autozone or similar place and ask if they can check its freezing point. Then get a helper to hold out a clean rag or an old clean flannel shirt. You pour

the anti freeze through the shirt slowly into a clean container and it will filter out the dirt particles better than you think. The result isn’t the best but it sure beats water. Water’s worse for rusting the inside of your engine than even used anti freeze. I don’t know about warm water in a cold engine but watch out for cold water or coolant in a hot engine. Good luck jerryberry.

The fact that your neighbors are wealthy doesn’t necessarily mean that they know more than you, it means that they know more than you about monetary affairs.
Putting lukewarm tap water in your radiator is unlikely to crack your engine since you are raising the temperature of the block by less than 100 degrees F in a relatively long time. You would crack the block if you put even hot tap water in an engine that had been running with the cooling system empty. That would be due to dropping the block temperature by hundreds of degrees in a very short time- a couple of seconds at the most. It would be better to start the engine cold with water in it.
The controversy about block damage aside, it is still not a good idea to use plain water in an engine. Antifreeze, as well as preventing freezing, protects against corrosion. If the truck or tractor had antifreeze in it before, it would have some anti-corrosion plating deposited on the innards, but these will dissolve in plain water and drain away when emptying the petcock. Sooner or later, you will have an engine that is unprotected from rust.
You may have another problem with repeatedly filling and draining an engine- lead poisoning. If your truck or tractor is an older one with a soldered brass radiator and/or heater core, the lead from the solder will dissolve in the coolant (water), and do so more easily in coolant that is heated from circulating through an engine block. Just draining this water on the ground may cause lead contamination of crops and livestock. That may result in lead poisoning of you, your pets, your family, and possibly your wealthy neighbors.
So, even though putting plain warm tap water in your truck or tractor just before starting may not crack the engine block, it is still a bad practice for other reasons.

Use a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze. Used is o.k. if you get the specific gravity of that used anti-freeze checked out. Your friendly local gas station/ garage will most likely check it for you. Check each container individually. There are a few tricks to straining the crud out of used anti-freeze. Old panty hose works. But you being a poor farmer, you probably don’t have access to or the need for panty hose or an old pair of nylon stockings. Strain it through cotton fabric like an old t-shirt or an old pair of underwear or whatever cotton cloth that you may have laying around. Old bed sheets work, too. Before you put the anti-freeze in, open how ever many engine block drains that you have on that engine. Let it all drain out. Catch all drain fluids in a container and dispose of properly. (See above post). (1 galon of anti-freeze can contaminate up to 10,000 gallons of water). Close the petcocks or replace the plugs. Pour the anti-freeze solution in. Pour in slowly so that the anti-freeze fills the radiator, gets past the small by-pass hole in the t-stat (if so equipped), and start 'er up. After a few minutes, re-check the anti-freeze level. Top off if needed. If you have a pressurized radiator cap, after you have put in your initial anti-freeze, leave the rad. cap on loosely. That’ll help the fluid get around and into everything and greatly reduce the chances of scalding yourself should you run the engine long enough to cause a pressure build-up. Next Spring or Summer, find someone who does their own anti-freeze changes and ask 'em for their used anti-freeze. People who do their own tend to keep up with the recommended anti-freeze changes. This will get you cleaner anti-freeze solution from the ‘git-go’. In any case, strain any used anti-freeze.