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No antifreeze after repair! only water

2000 Crown Vic - T-stat replaced by Auto Shop 3 mo ago. Today, temps near 0°, my neighbor calls me from the side of the road. I find a puddle of clear water under the car. We replace the coolant, + car runs fine. I talk to the shop… They became belligerent, swear they put in antifreeze, and tell me I’m a moron.
So no coolant added or leaking in 3 months, no one worked on the car… Car is driven very little but had the system flushed several years ago…
So what happened ?!?

What was the level of the coolant? Could the water be HVAC condensate?

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How did the “water” leak out of the engine?

Vic had boiled over losing 6 + quarts coolant from the coolant tank. I tested the fluid at the tank, only rusty water, no evidence ever been flushed. There is flow through the radiator.

Take it back to the shop and have them fix it right. Be sure to take your receipt with you.

Car is fixed… Shop admits changing stat; refuses ownership of the problem. I can’t imagine they forgot coolant , nor can I see any other possibilities. This is my neighbor’s car , I see it every day

If all that was needed was to drain the water and replace it with an antifreeze/water mixture, then its cheap enough that your neighbor should just forget about going to that shop again, but remember to tell everyone they know not to use the shop.

He paid 1200 $$$ for that and other work in Nov. He may switch. I just wonder what went wrong,

It’s entirely possible the shop either

  • didn’t do the work
  • re-filled w/plain water rather than a 50/50 coolant mixture.

No way to know over the internet. One possibility, they did the work, used 50/50, but somebody later poured plain water into the overflow bottle. Did you check the level of freeze protection from a sample from the radiator rather than the overflow bottle?

A shop tech could inadvertently make a mistake on the 50/50 mixture too, especially if they purchase 100% coolant and mix it w/water before pouring it in. I can see how such a thing might be possible, but seems very unlikely to happen at an established pro-shop.

One thing remains a mystery, why it leaked with the putative water-only coolant, even at freezing temperatures which you’d guess would cause something to break, but no leaks and engines works fine after replacing the coolant.

The neighbor had the system flushed @ less than 20000 miles. There is no evidence of that. I disconnected a hose to drain & nothing but rusty water came out, no green. Shop specified glycol was used in the repair. I’m wondering if the cold + water only made the stat not open? We just came back from a test run… every thing is normal, system pressured. No water added since repair.