How to Put Water in a Coolant Tank


Breaking down on the side of a road due to an overheating engine is every driver's worst nightmare. While towing your car for repairs may seem like the only option, a quick short-term fix can get you back on the road in no time. Pouring water into the coolant tank will allow the water to temporarily act as a coolant for the engine. This should allow for enough time to drive to a shop to diagnose the full problem.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Funnel
  • Large cloth
  • Pull over your overheated vehicle and turn it off. Wait for an hour or so for the coolant to cool.

  • Wrap a cloth around the upper radiator tube and attempt to squeeze it. If you can't easily squeeze the radiator tube, wait longer for the car to cool.

  • Wrap a cloth around the radiator cap. Release the pressure very slowly and carefully. Many have been burned doing this, so wait longer if you're not willing to take the risk.

  • Turn the car back on once you have removed the radiator cap. Slowly pour water into the coolant tank until the car is running at a safe driving temperature.

  • Screw the radiator cap back on very slowly until it is tight.

  • Drive to the nearest mechanic to diagnose the full problem. Typically the problem can be solved by replacing the coolant fluid, although it could be a host of other issues.

Tips & Warnings

  • Although it might seem logical to use very cold water, this could increase the chance of your engine block cracking. Only pour room-temperature water into your coolant tank to minimize this risk.
  • Park your car in a shaded area to speed the cooling effect on hot days.
  • Only attempt to open the radiator cap after the car has cooled for at least an hour. Always use patience and extreme caution when opening. Be aware that there is always a small chance that pressure could cause the radiator cap to shoot off, leaving a trail of burning coolant behind it. Always face the opposite direction when opening the radiator cap to avoid injury.
  • Although water is a short-term fix for an overheating car, the coolant system will need to be flushed and replaced with coolant at the typical 50 percent water and 50 percent coolant ratio. Failure to do so could cause corrosion and engine freeze during the winter.

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  • Photo Credit young red-haired woman with her broken car. image by ta_samaya from
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