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Thread: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

  1. #1
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    Default Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    One of the freeze plugs on my Taurus has a pinhole leak, so I want to replace it tomorrow. My question is what is the easiest way to get the present one out? Fortunately is one I can get to relatively easily. Thanks in advance.

    Cheers,

    Bobby
    Last edited by hokiefan; 01-07-2012 at 01:19 PM. Reason: left out a key word

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    "...what is the easiest way to get the present one?" Assuming you meant how to remove it.
    It has been a couple of decades since I have done this, but IIRC you tap one side with a drift.
    I'm sure a motor-head will be along shortly to set me straight.
    BTW, the replacement type that has a rubber stopper between to washers with a screw to make the rubber bulge is a waste of time; better to just use a standard replacement, IMO.
    Last edited by Jim Mahan; 01-07-2012 at 01:22 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Poke a hole in it and lever it out.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    Poke a hole in it and lever it out.
    Lack of sleep makes for poor decision making!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Girouard View Post
    Lack of sleep makes for poor decision making!
    So Paul, what to you suggest? Mr Pless' idea is the only viable one I've got so far. If there is a better, easier way I'm all ears. I do my own work that I can, but I'm certainly not an accomplished mechanic.

    Cheers,

    Bobby

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Start by using the drift method mentioned by Chisler. Go slow and tap on one side of the plug, it will rotate inside of the boss and come to a point where you should be able to get a purchase with pliers and pull it free.

    Here is a quick youtube video showing how it's done. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cru1X...eature=related
    Nosce te ipsum

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Well that looks easy. Thanks.

    Bobby

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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    I take it your car was at the airport when we had that freeze last week. The low here on the island was only 26 but inland I saw people reporting 17.
    Goat Island Skiff and Simmons Sea Skiff construction photos here:

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    X2 Poke ahole in it and lever it out. Always worked for me, course it's been 20 years since I've done it, but I don't think they've changed much.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by MiddleAgesMan View Post
    I take it your car was at the airport when we had that freeze last week. The low here on the island was only 26 but inland I saw people reporting 17.
    No problem there, it has good antifreeze in it. Its been leaking since well before Christmas, I could smell it. But I couldn't find it, it really is a small leak. But I want to kill it before the weather turns nasty. Working on a car in the cold is the pits.

    I've tried the poke a hole in it method 4-5 years ago. It didn't just lever out! In fact I ended up knocking it into the hole. It was a real PITA to get out. Hence the search for a better way.

    Cheers,

    Bobby

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Funny, my experience has been that the "make a hole & lever it out" method is less likely to knock the plug into the block than the "tap one side with a drift" method. Either way - slow & easy is the byword. I've also arc-welded a bolt to the plug (near an edge) & pulled on that. Notice arc-weld - not torch!

    I'll second the "replace it with another plain metal plug" suggestion. Make sure the hole in the block is clean as a whistle before tapping in the new one. While you can put a bit of sealant on it - it technically shouldn't be needed. If you do use any sealant - make sure it's a very thin layer & wipe off any excess after driving the plug flush.

    Finally - (& I hate to say this) if one plug has rusted through, others are likely to follow. Changing antifreeze every 2 or 3 years is a really good idea, as it will get acidic over time. When you do this plug, if the AF is old, I'd recommend flushing the system thoroughly (including running the engine with the drain plug open & water coming in to get stuff in the heater core out) & putting in new AF.

    Good luck with it!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    If you just want a seal to last you through the winter, I've sealed tiny freeze plug leaks with JB Weld. They held up just fine. In fact, I usually just left the repair as-is, and they didn't go bad. If you try this, clean around it as best you can, work it in real good. Let it set up a couple days if you can.

    It worked for me. We have an old tractor down at the farm that's had that repair done over 15 years ago.

    regards,
    Waddie

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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Waddie View Post
    If you just want a seal to last you through the winter, I've sealed tiny freeze plug leaks with JB Weld. They held up just fine. In fact, I usually just left the repair as-is, and they didn't go bad. If you try this, clean around it as best you can, work it in real good. Let it set up a couple days if you can.

    It worked for me. We have an old tractor down at the farm that's had that repair done over 15 years ago.

    regards,
    Waddie

    I always thought these types of fixes were pure twaddle...until I was able to drive a Mazda Miata another 80,000 miles after fixing a loose crankshaft pulley (the key had worked loose and damaged the crankshaft nose) with JB Weld.

    Jeff C

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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by hokiefan View Post
    So Paul, what to you suggest? Mr Pless' idea is the only viable one I've got so far. If there is a better, easier way I'm all ears. I do my own work that I can, but I'm certainly not an accomplished mechanic.

    Cheers,

    Bobby
    No idea , it just didn't sound like a good idea the way Paul put it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    A freeze plug...... My car has spark plugs..... How do freeze plugs work?
    Are you talking about a radiator drain plug?.... If so.... How did that get a pinhole in it?..... I must be confused.....

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Paul's way is as good as any if you can get to it. I like to use the rubber expandable ones in tight places, for the replacement.
    "para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también" (for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well.)

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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrleft8 View Post
    A freeze plug...... My car has spark plugs..... How do freeze plugs work?
    Are you talking about a radiator drain plug?.... If so.... How did that get a pinhole in it?..... I must be confused.....
    You might know it as a frost plug, basically it's a last defense against a cracked engine block. The idea is that a plug is inserted into an opening in the motors water jacket at various points on the block and heads, if the coolant gets cold enough to freeze then as it does so the pressure forces the plug out of the engine and allows the coolant to expand without cracking the motor.

    As for the different ways to remove a frost plug it's one of those "many ways to skin a cat" type of jobs. Tapping it out, drilling and prying, welding on a bolt... all means to the same end, no one method is considered the right way... the only requirement is that you do not push the plug into the water jacket... that would be bad.
    Nosce te ipsum

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Dryfoot View Post
    You might know it as a frost plug, basically it's a last defense against a cracked engine block. The idea is that a plug is inserted into an opening in the motors water jacket at various points on the block and heads, if the coolant gets cold enough to freeze then as it does so the pressure forces the plug out of the engine and allows the coolant to expand without cracking the motor.

    As for the different ways to remove a frost plug it's one of those "many ways to skin a cat" type of jobs. Tapping it out, drilling and prying, welding on a bolt... all means to the same end, no one method is considered the right way... the only requirement is that you do not push the plug into the water jacket... that would be bad.
    What he said! Here's a pic. One on the left installed, one center that's out & comparing old with new.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    They really arn't freeze plugs,the reason they are there is for casting the block in the first place. They just happen to be the weak link sometimes in a freeze.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Waddie View Post
    If you just want a seal to last you through the winter, I've sealed tiny freeze plug leaks with JB Weld. They held up just fine. In fact, I usually just left the repair as-is, and they didn't go bad. If you try this, clean around it as best you can, work it in real good. Let it set up a couple days if you can.

    It worked for me. We have an old tractor down at the farm that's had that repair done over 15 years ago.

    regards,
    Waddie
    It looks like this is the approach I'll have to take for now. None of the autoparts places have the size I need in either steel, brass, or the rubber type. The book says a '99 Taurus uses a 1-1/2" freeze plug, this one is 1-1/4". Yeah I checked it eight times. It's 1-1/4" and no one has it in stock. So I'll clean it up and JB Weld it until I can find the right size. Its almost warm enough, will be 45 tomorrow, so I'll rig up an incandescent light to warm it while it cures. Always some minor obstacle, at least the temperature is close enough that it is a possibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunky Dory View Post
    They really arn't freeze plugs,the reason they are there is for casting the block in the first place. They just happen to be the weak link sometimes in a freeze.
    True, they are the holes where the sand for the water channels is taken out.

    Cheers,

    Bobby

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Ah! Kinda like an inside out turpentine can top..... Now I understand. I had one of those replaced in my truck just before it was destroyed....

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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Bobby, you're used to working with epoxy, I'm sure.

    Getting a good bond is the secret. I would even open it up just a little to get more in, but just cleaning it good will probably do that.

    good luck,

    regards,
    Waddie

    PS. Most people wouldn't believe this, but I even used JB Weld on an exhaust manifold on that same tractor, which got a small crack where the exhaust pipe hooks up to it. I just widened it a bit with a Dremel, and worked in the JB. It's held up as well. (They don't make that manifold anymore).

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by hokiefan View Post
    It looks like this is the approach I'll have to take for now. None of the autoparts places have the size I need in either steel, brass, or the rubber type. The book says a '99 Taurus uses a 1-1/2" freeze plug, this one is 1-1/4". Yeah I checked it eight times. It's 1-1/4" and no one has it in stock. So I'll clean it up and JB Weld it until I can find the right size. Its almost warm enough, will be 45 tomorrow, so I'll rig up an incandescent light to warm it while it cures. Always some minor obstacle, at least the temperature is close enough that it is a possibility.

    True, they are the holes where the sand for the water channels is taken out.

    Cheers,

    Bobby
    They may be left over from casting, but I've seen them save engines that weren't protected well enough.

    Don't forget that absolutely nothing sticks to AF. Gotta get the level below the hold & thoroughly clean with alcohol or some such. But you knew that....

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    They may be left over from casting, but I've seen them save engines that weren't protected well enough.

    Don't forget that absolutely nothing sticks to AF. Gotta get the level below the hold & thoroughly clean with alcohol or some such. But you knew that....
    Thanks for pointing that out, I had missed it. The guys at the auto parts stores said brake cleaner would work well, and I have some of that.

    Cheers,

    Bobby

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by hokiefan View Post
    Thanks for pointing that out, I had missed it. The guys at the auto parts stores said brake cleaner would work well, and I have some of that.

    Cheers,

    Bobby
    Yoobet. I guess you figured out it shoulda been "below the hole"?

    Brake cleaner will definitely do it. Use gloves though - trichloroethylene is nasty stuff....

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    I don't know what you'll use to clean off the brake cleaner, but I like the spray electronic parts cleaner for those types of jobs. It cleans but then quickly and totally eveporates. Spray cleaner for brakes might work, but I don't know if it leaves a residue.

    regards,
    Waddie

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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    This is the first lesson ye should learn: There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, it doesn't behoove any of us to speak evil of the rest of us.
    E. Cayce

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Waddie View Post
    I don't know what you'll use to clean off the brake cleaner, but I like the spray electronic parts cleaner for those types of jobs. It cleans but then quickly and totally eveporates. Spray cleaner for brakes might work, but I don't know if it leaves a residue.

    regards,
    Waddie
    Trichloroethylene make acetone look like it evaporates slowly. So I think that'll be OK.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by George Ray View Post
    Thanks for that. I figured I could find them online, and now I'll order a set. I went ahead and tried the JB Weld approach hoping to keep things from getting worse right now. Hopefully that will get me through the worst of the winter, because I don't have a place to work inside right now.

    The spray brake cleaner btw evaporates extremely fast, and seemed to do a good job of getting things clean. We will see. Thanks all for the help.

    Cheers,

    Bobby

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    The JB Weld approach didn't work completely. But it did turn a small pinhole leak into a very slow weap. And while I was working on that I found the real leak. A pretty good pinhole in a section of heater hose that runs behind the engine. With that fixed I'm losing a few drips each trip instead of the quart-plus I was topping it up every couple of hundred miles. That should hold me until the new plugs come it. Once again, thanks all for the help.

    Cheers,

    Bobby

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    There's always that old shade tree mechanic trick. Go to the parts store and ask for something to stop leaks. I haven't used it in years, but it's called "Stop Leak" (go figure) or Bars Leaks . The counter man will know what you're looking for. It really works. I've even used to stop up cracked heads. It'll cost about 5 to 10 bucks.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by fishrswim View Post
    There's always that old shade tree mechanic trick. Go to the parts store and ask for something to stop leaks. I haven't used it in years, but it's called "Stop Leak" (go figure) or Bars Leaks . The counter man will know what you're looking for. It really works. I've even used to stop up cracked heads. It'll cost about 5 to 10 bucks.
    It does work - but it can also plug up the heater core. No heat in January kinda stinks....

    If you do use it - Bars Leak liquid is the best brand in my experience.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    It does work - but it can also plug up the heater core. No heat in January kinda stinks....

    If you do use it - Bars Leak liquid is the best brand in my experience.


    Since I already have trouble with the heater core fouling I'll pass on the Stop Leak. One of the things I did this weekend was flush out the heater core. Got an amazing amount of stuff out of it, and now the heat is working again. Just in time for it to get a bit cold tomorrow.

    Cheers,

    Bobby

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Before you install those "brass" core plugs check them with a magnet.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Auto repair question - leaking freeze plug

    Quote Originally Posted by Waddie View Post
    If you just want a seal to last you through the winter, I've sealed tiny freeze plug leaks with JB Weld. They held up just fine. In fact, I usually just left the repair as-is, and they didn't go bad. If you try this, clean around it as best you can, work it in real good. Let it set up a couple days if you can.

    It worked for me. We have an old tractor down at the farm that's had that repair done over 15 years ago.

    regards,
    Waddie
    I was driving across the freezin desert, when I spotted six jet.... no wrongthred. I was drivin across the freeezin desert when I sprang a hole in the radiator of a 1953 Brockway, and happened to have a box of oatmeal on hand. I applied a generous handful to each side of the leak. Swelled up, and dried. Got me all the way to Richmond, where I surrendered the truck tpo it's grateful owner.
    Tiny leak, you say? I would see if I could leave it; maybe throw in some Barr's Leaks. Don't look for trouble.

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