Q: Frozen radiator

asked by on January 01, 2018

My son purchased a 1993 Honda accord about 6 weeks ago from a good friend of ours. The car is an automatic has around 180000 miles on it. This morning was extremely cold about 7 degrees. My son went to start the car for work. He said it turned over once then was dead. My husband went to see if he could start it. No luck. Dead. We bought a battery and upon installing it discovered that the radiator is frozen. The contents are hard but slushy. Can't tell if it's just The top of the radiator that's frozen or the entire thing. We did not try to start the car cause we have never had this issue before. Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated. The car has not had any issues with overheating before this.

My car has 180000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi Becky. Thanks for contacting us today. When it gets extremely cold, it’s quite common for cars to have difficulty starting. It’s likely that the root issue was a battery with low cranking amps, but it’s a smart idea to NOT start a car with frozen coolant. If possible, the best solution is to park the car in a garage with the radiator cap open - to attempt to defrost the coolant. A hair dryer can also be used to slowly melt the frozen coolant. However, the concerning thing is if there is too much water inside the coolant system. This is likely what caused the freezing, as when the coolant is correctly mixed, it’s a 50/50 ratio of coolant to distilled water and should not freeze. If you can get the coolant to ’un-freeze’ - make sure to place the radiator cap back on, start the car and let it warm up to operating temperature and check for any coolant leaks, as frozen coolant can also cause hoses to crack. If everything appears ok, have the coolant system flushed and filled with the correct ratio of coolant and distilled water to hopefully ensure this doesn’t happen again.

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