annie sam project racer

The Sweet Scent of…Coolant?
By Annie Sam

Ah the sweet scent of victory. Or is it burning coolant? A smell reminiscent of warm apple cider, yet a scent which can make your heart sink to the bottom of your stomach by the imminent doom it foretells.  Black smoke, white smoke, the distinct smell of hot oil and burning coolant; these are the tell tale signs of your car communicating to you that something's gone wrong, and in my case very wrong.

The NX2000 and its sister, the Sentra SE-R are extremely tough and reliable cars. But they all have their Achilles heel; the cooling system.  Although you can drive pretty hard at the dragstrip or on the street without any immediate fears of overheating, a trip to the road course on a day with temperatures hinting of summertime can send engine temperatures soaring.  Without careful monitoring of the gauges, the temps can easily skyrocket, sending your motor to SR20 heaven.

The day at Willow Springs was the perfect recipe for disaster, 105 degree sweltering heat, a black, black car, and worst of all, a black, black overheating prone NX2000. It was the last session of the weekend, and the car had held up rather nicely. Confident of my newfound experience, I decided to hit the course one last time to see how much I'd be able to keep up with a fully built racecar. It was already on the track, hot lapping around the course so it was unknowing of my secret race against it. I waited at the pits for the flag person to give me the go ahead. As soon as my target zoomed by, I made my way onto the course, just several car lengths behind the racecar. I did one lap, two laps, as the car in front of me inched away – more like footed away rather quickly. I was tunnel visioned on that car, trying to mimic the lines it was taking, when it would shift gears, when it would brake. I was doing quite well for myself until my car sputtered slightly. I looked down at my gauges to see the needle tapping the right side of the H mark. Alarmed, I looked at the Techtom to see the water temperature at a whopping 230 degrees! I let off the throttle, accompanied by a slew of profanity and then quickly regrouped. I crawled my way towards the exit of the track, leaving a trail of white smoke behind me. I pet the dash of my car and began to sweet talk it, praying that it'd be nice enough to me to let me make it off the track. Old faithful came to a crawling stop less than 3 yards after the exit of the track. I swore I heard it sigh one last sigh before it died on me.

Though overheating is a common problem among the general SE-R crowd, it is a know fact that overheating is an even more annoying problem for NX's with their tiny grill openings and poor airflow to the radiator. For the NX, it was only a matter of time before the poor thing overheated without the proper cooling upgrades. Luckily, I was able to trailer my little egg home where I could remedy this problem.

Black Flagged, Miss Sam, your car is on fire...


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Thursday, October 22, 2009 2:37 PM
I really like your articles. I use to have cooling problems in the middle of the summer with my turbo, front mount, four cylinder, with the AC blasting. I could never keep the temp gauge from raising on those very hot LA days. I decided to switch to Evans Cooling coolant. I use the NPG+ because it's a daily driver. It's been good so far. My temp gauge still raises a bit but now it stops where as before it would just keep going up. It's a waterless system and has a boiling point of 375-F, is non toxic, non corrosive, and supposed to last 100,000 miles. I had to do some conversion to make my cooling system into a zero pressure one, but they say you can just change it out now. Maybe it's because my car is older. They have different set ups so I would still make sure what is entailed before I make the decision to switch. I paid about 45 dollars a gallon last time. I had to re-flush my entire system because I forgot to tell the guy fixing my AC and he poured water and coolant into it. I guess he thought the warning sticker was just for show.

So I don't really worry about my coolant boiling anymore. But what I'd like to know is how much temperature can an engine take before it becomes harmful. I mean if my boiling point is at 375F, then does that mean that I can safely run at 325F all day without any damage or severe drop in performance? I hope this question doesn't sound stupid but I just don't know.

Look into it if you're interested. I'll make it to the track one of these days.

Off their FAQ:
What are various boiling points of interest?
Water at sea level (1 atm. absolute) boils at 212° F.
Water at sea level with a 1 atm. pressure cap (2 atm total) boils at 250° F.
EGW at sea level (1 atm. absolute) boils at 224° F.
EGW at sea level with a 1 atm. pressure cap (2 atm. total) boils at 263° F.
Evans Waterless HDTC at sea level (1 atm. absolute) boils at 375° F.
Thursday, October 22, 2009 9:07 PM
I wouldn't recommend Evan's coolant, for a car you plan to use outside your acceptable towing area, if you have converted it to a system which only allows you to use Evan's. Because I have converted my car to a zero pressure system, I can no long use the normal coolant/water mixtures, which mean I have to tow if anything happens.
Thursday, October 22, 2009 10:27 PM
What no addition of (Water Better)......you know what I mean.......Wow guess that stuff does not work after all.........I thought so.....I just don't have the tools to prove it......
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, October 29, 2009 4:22 PM
I used Evans coolant in the Dog III time attack car and it seems to work well.

Water wetter does work but for NASA road racing you cannot use coolant, only water. Less slick in an accident. You will fail tech for having anything but water.
Friday, October 30, 2009 3:34 PM

Could you answer this question for me? How high of a temperature can an engine still safely operate at before it becomes harmful? I mean if Evan's boiling point is at 375F, then does that mean that I can safely run at 350F all day without any damage or drop in performance?

What other organizations are there, besides NASA, that also do not allow coolant?

Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, October 30, 2009 5:58 PM
Thats a hard question to answer in general terms because a lot has to do where you measure the temperature.

For instance on an SR20 with the sender in the stock location, they blow up around 250 degrees and start to get unhappy at around 230. If the sender is in the front return water neck, its about 245 and 265.

We had the LS motors in the drift cars hit 260 degrees without harm before. The localized temps are much higher but its hard to gather data on them. In general I would say something like 230 degrees coolant and 260 degrees oil is where things start to happen in a typical motor.

SCCA doesnt allow coolent.
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