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Old 11-18-2013, 12:26 PM
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Distilled Water or Antifreeze When Breaking In Engine for First Time

I've read some differing opinions on whether to use 100% distilled water or a 50/50 antifreeze / water mix when starting an engine for the first time.

The proponents of using distilled water claim it will cause less damage if there is an issue upon initial start-up.

Is this true or closer to automotive folklore?

(I should add that I plan to use a 50/50 mix after start-up either way.)

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Old 11-18-2013, 12:52 PM
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Water with a water pump seal lubricant additive will work fine for brake in.
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Old 11-18-2013, 01:07 PM
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If the motor breaches a gasket or pops a coolant hose, you'll be glad it's water on the floor and all over everything instead of antifreeze.
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Old 11-18-2013, 01:27 PM
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I would still run some antifreeze or other lubricant in it if you're using a new water pump, just for the seals sake. You certainly don't need 50% mix though.

FWIW, I've also never used anything but tap water in my engines and have NEVER had an issue. And almost all major industrial and commercial cooling equipment either uses tap water for recharge, or better yet, water from their storm water ponds.

Tap water could have up to 10ppm chlorine (likely closer to 2), and that .001% impurity isn't going to hurt a damn thing. You can waste your money on distilled water if you want, but you'll never see any difference.


For some reason people think water is safe enough to drink but not put in an engine?
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Old 11-18-2013, 01:32 PM
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Id really recommend a w/p lube if using strait water tho. The seals wont die instantly if you dont use it but using it will keep them perfect till the half and half coolant goes in. Once theres antifreeze in it you dont need any other additives in my opinion.
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Old 11-18-2013, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewakessler View Post
I've read some differing opinions on whether to use 100% distilled water or a 50/50 antifreeze / water mix when starting an engine for the first time.

The proponents of using distilled water claim it will cause less damage if there is an issue upon initial start-up.

Is this true or closer to automotive folklore?

(I should add that I plan to use a 50/50 mix after start-up either way.)
Lets see if I can help...
If you had the nice clean tap water I have here, you would use distilled water...WHY ? Our nice clean water here is so hard, lime stone from the ground, it will clog up a leak in a week in a pipe. Can you imagine what it does to radiator cores ?

Distilled water is just that. Just clean water with no additives at all...

If you were planing to use plain water all the time, then of course, add a water pump lubricant to the water. And don't forget a rust inhibitor. Otherwise, you will really have a rusty, scaly buildup. If you've ever popped the freeze plugs out, and saw all the buildup around the cylinders, you would know exactly what I'm talking about. We don't want over heated cylinders, that will become wavy, now do we ?

As far as if it's a new water pump or not, what does that have to do with anything ? A water pump is a water pump. The only thing I can see is, if it's a used pump, it will leak sooner than a new one...

The reason a 50/50 mix is good, is the anti-freeze mix has all the ingredients added already. And by using distilled water, and anti-freeze mix, you get the better part of both worlds.

But, if you want to be safe, you could do your initial fire-up, and break-in running with plain water. Like tech says, if a hose pops, boy, what a mess...

Side not: MAKE SURE you buy the proper Anti-Freeze for your engine combination of parts. They are all different now a days...
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Old 11-18-2013, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny View Post
Lets see if I can help...
If you had the nice clean tap water I have here, you would use distilled water...WHY ? Our nice clean water here is so hard, lime stone from the ground, it will clog up a leak in a week in a pipe. Can you imagine what it does to radiator cores ?
Lets say your water is VERY hard, like 200mg/L of Ca. So in a 15L capacity cooling system you have a grand total of 3g of Calcium IF it is entirely filled with tap water, if its a 50/50 mix then you have 1.5grams that could potentially precipitate out.

1.5grams of calcium is again inconsequential- even in your "worst case scenario".

And yes there are places with more than 200mg/L of hardness, but they are very rare and if you live in such a place you'd know it as you'll have a softener you need to frequently fill. Even 200mg/L can be damaging to your homes plumbing system given enough time.
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Old 11-18-2013, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by ap72 View Post
Lets say your water is VERY hard, like 200mg/L of Ca. So in a 15L capacity cooling system you have a grand total of 3g of Calcium IF it is entirely filled with tap water, if its a 50/50 mix then you have 1.5grams that could potentially precipitate out.

1.5grams of calcium is again inconsequential- even in your "worst case scenario".

And yes there are places with more than 200mg/L of hardness, but they are very rare and if you live in such a place you'd know it as you'll have a softener you need to frequently fill. Even 200mg/L can be damaging to your homes plumbing system given enough time.
I do know it...And yes, the water here is REALLY hard water. I don't drink anything that comes out of the tap lets say...And yes, I have replaced water pipes here...
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Old 11-18-2013, 02:56 PM
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Distilled water with w/p lube. Techinspector hit that right on the nose. That mess on the floor - been there when I've forgotten to tighten a heater hose or a bottom radiator hose or install an intake correctly. A note - the owner's manual for my Ford Super Duty with 6.7 diesel specifies distilled water along with 50% antifreeze - all 40+ quarts worth of the mixture.

Run it a few hours or even a few days, drain the radiator AND block, flush well then refill with your 50-50 mixture. That anti freeze - be careful as to what you use depending on head and radiator material. A note - I used Peak antifreeze and had a tremendous amount of crud with a new crate motor and new Walker radiator and not just once but 3 times, figuring since I had previous good luck with the stuff in other vehicles, it couldn't be the Peak.
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Old 11-18-2013, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewakessler View Post
I've read some differing opinions on whether to use 100% distilled water or a 50/50 antifreeze / water mix when starting an engine for the first time.

The proponents of using distilled water claim it will cause less damage if there is an issue upon initial start-up.

Is this true or closer to automotive folklore?

(I should add that I plan to use a 50/50 mix after start-up either way.)
Depends on whether you’re going to run a water antifreeze mixture after initial start up and break in or waterless coolant like Evans NPG. In the latter situation getting the water out is an additional PIA.

If you're going to run 50/50 then start with and maintain either de-ionized or distilled water. While your tap water might be pretty pure, most contains a lot of dissolved salts from the rocks and soils it comes from. While pure enough to drink, all that means is the dissolved salts are at a lower concentration than those in your body; from a cooling system point of view dissolved salts mean the water solution is searching for a way to neutralize its internal electrical charge. That comes at the expense of corroding the metals it comes in contact with. This is an especially aggressive reaction where the engine is a mixture of iron and aluminum which then because of the dissimilar materials of construction in common contact with a conductive medium such as mineral containing water makes a battery where the more chemically active metal is being corroded away to be deposited on the less active metal. The antifreeze part of the mixture includes inhibitors such as zinc which is more reactive than either aluminum or iron, but this is a consumable which has a finite life within the coolant so the coolant doesn't maintain this corrosion inhibiting action forever. The more the salts (minerals) in solution with the water the shorter will be the life of the inhibitors.

Going waterless is easy here on the west coast as the winter temperatures are mild along the northwest coast and over the entire southwest. So except for the northwest mountains and high desert you can get away with 100% Prestone as it doesn't get cold enough to slush ethylene glycol in the cooling jackets with low temps. Living where it gets well below freezing if you go waterless then you need stuff like Evans waterless.

Bogie
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:02 PM
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Brake in.

I always use vodka, that way if you f---k up on your rebuild you can at least not feel the pain. Tap water in the engine and vodka in you. What a stupid question.

Last edited by dannronn; 11-18-2013 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:03 PM
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water

if you have any aluminum componets,then after initial run up,use a good antyfreze at50-50 mix,they have aditives that eliminat erosion ,especially heads and intake wher u have lots of water flow
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:04 PM
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Ethelyene glycol is about a third as thermally conductive as water... Helping to make your hot spots hotter and your cold spots colder...

And things like ca and mg will slow corrosion not increase it. There isn't enough to really make a hill of beans difference in tap water though.

Oh, and your body is a LOT more sensitive toaster impurities than an engine block is.
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:32 PM
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Water

You are only going to run your engine for for 30 min for break in and then change all vital fluids any way, or you should. You never know what will happen and vodka and water is cheap. lol

Last edited by dannronn; 11-18-2013 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:32 PM
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bennet auto sells a radiator additive by the gallon has no antifreeze just water pump lubricants and is about $4 a gallon
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