Recently my car overheated and I had to get it towed to the garage in pretty bad shape. It turned out I was driving with no coolant.

When I got to the garage they poured water directly in the radiator and tried to turn on the car.

With difficulty, the car succeeded to turn on but water bubbled out of the open radiator cap. Based on this they said my engine was dead and I need a brand new one.

Does that sound accurate? Do you know what this indicated? A broken engine block? Broken head gasket?

Does it sound to you like my engine is dead from the small test or should I explore further?


  • Explore further by all means, but without detail we can't say much more.
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 16, 2019 at 12:27
  • Welcome to the site. What is the make, model and year of your vehicle?
    – Zaid
    Jun 16, 2019 at 20:37
  • It's a bogus test. It proves nothing but gas leaking out of the radiator. Send your car to another workshop. Don't waste time at the current one. Better go to the dealership OEM. Feb 25, 2023 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


Your car ran out of coolant and then stopped working as a result. Permanent engine damage has occurred.

If the scenario was that somebody noticed you're coolant was low/out and no symptoms were present, I would entertain the idea that your engine may be fine. However, due to the fact that your engine is now symptomatic after running with no coolant for an undetermined amount of time, it is evident that permanent engine damage has occurred resulting in catastrophic damage. Without taking the engine apart it will be difficult to determine the exact mode of failure in your case. However, what has likely happened is that the metal has fatigued, and warped to such an extent that the tolerances in the engine can no longer support compression.

If you still unsure that your engine isn't just a boat anchor, try getting a compression test done. This will be solid evidence if the engine is sustainable. All a engine needs to run is fuel, compression, and spark. Overheating only endangers compression.

Overheating causes the metal to warp, which would make your engine broken. Cooling after overheating causes the tension, causing metal to crack. putting cold water in an overheated engine while it is still hot is a sure-fire way to crack an engine block. Other common ways to crack an engine block is putting water only in an engine when it's freezing outside (That's why you should use diluted antifreeze in the winter)

Warped engine blocks fail to hold compression for a number of reasons. Most commonly:

  • Failing piston rings
  • Heads not sealing against the head gasket
  • valves fail
  • I stopped driving before the engine failed, but afterward, I had trouble starting it up again. Now that it has sat for a few days I can start it with no problem (but I haven't driven it yet). My car is a 2009 Hyundai i30.
    – Doronsky85
    Jun 17, 2019 at 13:30
  • I would get a compression test still. Probably other problems have occurred that a compression test will not reveal (i.e. spun bearing, burnt valves, etc), but a compression test will give you a good idea of the extent of the damage. Otherwise, if you aren't having any other trouble then I would follow the old saying - don't fix what ain't broke.
    – Oxymoron
    Jun 23, 2019 at 0:41

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