Engine Coolant


#1

Can I use “rubbing alcohol” in my car’s cooling system temporarily until I can get some real antifreeze?


#2

You have that much rubbing alcohol??? You’d need a gallon or so.

Yes it can be…but how difficult is it to get antifreeze???


#3

Many supermarkets sell antifreeze/coolant!

How hard would it be to go the supermarket to buy a gallon or two of antifreeze/coolant, as compared to going to the same place to buy 8 to 16 pint bottles of rubbing alcohol?

Unless you have an unusually large supply of rubbing alcohol at home, the logic of your plan escapes me.


#4

The simple answer is NO. Rubbing alcohol is very volatile and unstable, a quality you definitely do not want in a coolant, since heat transfer of a gas is very poor compared to a liquid. A fill of rubbing alcohol would quickly get decrease in you system.

As others have asked, since rubbing alcohol is much more expensive than antifreese why would anyone want to use it? I’m assuming you arrived at this question over a beer with someone who had just visited a doctor’s office and marvelled at the cooling effect of the stuff. That cooling is caused by rapid EVAPORATION,a quality you don’t want in an engine coolant.

Another source of the question could be watching an old MASH program when the anbulance has lost its coolant during a Korean winter, and the army hospital used rubbing alcohol as an emergency coolant.

So, redirect some of your spending to buy $20 worth of real antifreeze, and save your engine.


#5

The simple answer is NO. Rubbing alcohol is very volatile and unstable, a quality you definitely do not want in a coolant, since heat transfer of a gas is very poor compared to a liquid. A fill of rubbing alcohol would quickly get decrease in you system.

Hate to tell you this…Rubbing Alcohol was the ONLY thing used some 50+ years ago in the Northern states before Anti-freeze was invented. It can be used…but only in an emergency. It has none of the anti-corrosive additives of snti-freeze. Also it shouldn’t be used when temps rise above 50.


#6

I’m old enough to remember it being used; but it was a lousy coolant just the same. That’s why we have very stable antifreeze (except for DEX-COOL)now!


#7

Thanks for your reply. The problem is that I have had a leak in my radiator that I think is fixed (stop leak). I do not drive the car enough to get a good fix on whether the leak is gone or not. I do not want to waste the money on the antifreeze and have it leak all over my drive (dogs/cats, etc.) I do happen to have some rubbing alcohol. The local grocery store had it on sale for 75 cents/quart. So, if I have a leak, I will only lose a little bit of R.A. Our temperature is going to drop to 10 degrees on Thursday AM and my car sits outside so I am in need of a little bit of protection. This is only a TEMP measure. Thanks again.


#8

You will lose the water pump if you try that.


#9

I am only looking for a way to survive the upcoming 10 deg. wx. It has only water in the block now.


#10

When you go to the supermarket to buy those 8 to 16 pint bottles of alcohol, do yourself a favor and look for antifreeze/coolant in that same store. If the store is a reasonably large one, they are likely to carry it.


#11

Still hard to understand why you’d do this. Are you stuck at home with a gallon of rubbing alcohol and no way to get out?


#12

You did not read my earlier response. I have been experiencing a radiator leak and do not know if it is resolved at this time. I don’t want to fill up with antifreeze and have it all leak out. I DO happen to have rubbing alcohol and I am facing 10 deg wx in 2 days. I need to do something.


#13

Please read my responses to some of the other writers, then you will understand, I think??


#14

Sorry, missed that. If the leak’s in a visible spot, you could warm up the car and check it out. If it looks like it stopped, put in regular antifreeze. If it’s bad, take it to get fixed. If a small leak, I’d rather lose a bit of antifreezed than use rubbing alcohol.


#15

It was a sizable leak. Only showed up when the engine was turned off. I put “stop leak” in it and it “seems” to be alright. I was going to drive it this weekend and test it out but this cold front is coming and I just wanted a “quickfix”. Thanks.


#16

No, it will cause corrosion. No, it might cause the stop-leak to weaken and start your leak flowing again. Just wash it off your driveway with the hose if you see more of it dripping.


#17

Antifreeze is probably cheaper than smirnoff, are you loosing large amounts of fluid? I think if you loosen the radiator cap and go through for now keeping fluid full it will be ok until warmer weather. If not do we cheat em and how is your next step.