Any advice about dealing with this Corolla radiator for its last 11 miles?

Asked by Feb 28, 2017 at 04:08 PM about the 1994 Toyota Corolla

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

The radiator on my 1994 Toyota Corolla is 23 years old (original), with
a slow leak that suddenly developed a stuck thermostat at 65 mph and the
temp gauge suddenly went to maximum and boiled coolant smoke billowed
out of the hood. When I stopped the car, coolant was spewing out from
around the radiator cap. The radiator must have developed an air bubble
the last time I added coolant and “Leak Ender.”

Any tips on how slowly I should drive this Corolla to the salvage yard 11
miles away? I can’t afford the towing charges  (I’m saving up money to pay
for prostate problems), so I thought I’d drive the car only 15 mph on the
wide shoulder of a road that has little traffic.

I’ll stop whenever the temp gauge maxes out, cuz I want to make sure the
engine doesn’t seize up before it can get to the salvage yard.

Should I drive it those last 11 miles without the radiator cap on?

Since I’m junking this car, I thought I’d just add water from my old coolant
jugs instead of adding expensive coolant whenever I have to pull over and
refill the radiator. Any advice about dealing with this radiator for its last 11

(The Corolla has over 250,000 miles and a rusted out frame, plus it needs
repairs on multiple problems. A trusted mechanic told me I should junk it,
so I’m selling it to a salvage yard.)

8 Answers


As long as you're not a road hazard to other drivers, just nurse it along to the scrappers. Still 11 miles is pretty far to go with an engine boiling over. Maybe enlist a friend with a truck and a tow bar?

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Can't you just remove the thermostat? But i don;t see how driving slow will help, drive normal speed, don't rev it up and such, and bring plenty of water with you and pull over when it gets hot to let it cool down and start again. It might take you a better part of the day. Put the heater on max. to help.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Drive it slow and take a lot of water along. Stop as necessary to let it cool down.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Plain water is actually a better coolant than anti-freeze, it just boils at a lower temperature.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Should I drive it those last 11 miles (on a straight, rural highway in a farm state with wide shoulders) without the radiator cap on? I'd like to save waiting time — if I don't have to wait for the radiator to cool down & remove the cap before I pour room-temperature water in.


No, you will just lose all coolant pretty quick then motor will seize. Try driving it a mile, then stop and let it cool down, don't wait until it boils over. When it does cool down add some water to the degas bottle and continue for another stretch. Of course you could also find a scrapper that will come and get the car, most will do that free or give you slightly less. You're not getting much more than a buck fifty for this anyhow. Why risk becoming a permanent road side attraction?

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Leave the cap off or loose and drive fairly slowly. If you see that driving over a certain speed makes it heat up then slow down. Good luck and let us know how it works out!

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Thank you all for taking the time to share your advice! It helps me a lot and I'm grateful. I'll post the results of the radiator ordeal after this weekend.

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