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'97 Mercury Sable, V6 Engine, (pretty sure it's the Vulcan engine, it's the one 87% of them have, not the other).Since the heater was leaking, I had someone bypass the heater until I put a new one in, which I didn't do, (only use the car for very short trips into town). Was driving yesterday and the serpentine belt slipped off. suddenly the car became hard to steer, I noticed it was overheating, and the battery light went on. I pulled into a supermarket parking lot, got the permission to leave it overnight, and am borrowing my cousin's car. The engine temp dial showed it went very near the top, and when I opened the hood the overflow reservoir had leaked coolant all over, (which I expected).

Surprisingly, the belt is not broken, only stretched a great deal. I had no problem fitting the belt back on according the diagram on the inside of the hood, only of course there is too much slack. Assuming I have no problem putting a new serpentine belt back on, I was just wondering about two things.

1. Assuming the water pump is fine, (put in a year ago), instead of coolant, can I fill the overfill tank with plain water, then drive the car the 5 miles to my house, drain the system, then refill with water again, drain, and maybe repeat the process again before putting in the coolant/water mixture? I don't know how to reverse flush the system, though I do have a water hose at the house.

2. Can I trust the oil in the car to drive home with? It's due for an oil change anyway, just wondering if overheating the engine might have destroyed the viscosity of the oil so it shouldn't be driven even 5 miles.

Any advice is sincerely appreciated.


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Location: Oregon
if you are using regular motor oil it is not made to run in an overheated motor. It starts to break down around 275F. That's well past the beginning of the red on a temp gauge but it can get up there. Oil temp runs a little hotter than water temp. Usually around 230 to 260. How hot do you think you got it?

If the belt was loose, is loose, make sure your belt tensioner is working. It should have a lot of tension on it and want to spring back and keep the belt tight. It would be more likely that the tensioner is bad than the belt to stretch far enough it would power steering slip. Unless there is another problem like the AC locking up or something. Anytime there is a belt problem where the PS is slipping then the water pump and alternator could be slipping too so it overheats and the battery light can come on. So, how's your tensioner?

When I have the coolant system open I use and airlift tool that evacuates the air similar to how AC systems use. Suck out all the air and then let the vacuum pull the new coolant into the car. Without the airlift tool I have a funnel that goes into the radiator and fill the cooling system and let idle keeping the cooling system full until the fan cycles on and off, And you may have to let it cool down overnight and fill and do it again.


   
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