Low Water Alarm

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 07:34
ThreadID: 67776 Views:3770 Replies:7 FollowUps:7
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I bought one of these units a while back after a near miss with water loss in the GQ. It wasn't that a part failed, but rather a senior moment when I forgot to secure the radiator cap properly. The reason behind this was that I was trying to fit a new water temp sensor as my dash guage had failed.

I had noticed the old girl fuelling as vapour was coming out of the exhaust obscuring a car behind me. I pulled up at the top of a hill and switched the engine off. Waited about fifteen minutes and cranked it over and the pistons refused to move. So I sat there with a long face wondering just how much this was going to cost me. Rang around looking for a tow truck in the region but drew a blank temporarily. After the engine had cooled down sufficiently, about an hour, I filled the raidiator with water very slowly. When it was topped up I got back behind the wheel, closed my eyes (dunno why..lol) and turned the key and the old donk fired up up and idled sweetly. I cruised gently to the next town to buy a radiator cap and then made for home. That was about 75,000km ago. Old engine is still running sweetly.

I happened to look at Low ater Alarms this morning to see if there were any updates and the manufacturer of this type of alarm has updated some and has new products available to suit later model cars.

Have look here Low Water Alarm


Cheers
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Reply By: happytravelers - Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 09:02

Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 09:02
G'day Willem
I've recently fitted as a recommendation from this site, a TM2 engine watch dog. You don't need to disturb the cooling system as a sensor slips under a bolt on the thermostat housing, and measures block temperature, with a digital display and an adjustable alarm in the cab. It's very accurate and interesting to see how the engine temp rises and falls as the cooling fan cuts in and out. They're made in Brisbane ( not imported ) and great people to deal with.
Regards Jon
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Reply By: Robert HL (SEQ)(aka zuksctr) - Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 09:16

Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 09:16
G'day Willem, this same thing happened to the wifes Zuk this week.
I checked her radiator a week earlier,but must have had a senior moment (not as senior as you though :) )& not secure the cap properly.
She comes home from work frantically saying smoke coming out of bonnet & big noise as well when she pulled up.I tolled her i will have a look when it cools down.Thats when i realised it was my mistake a week earlier.:(
As it has turned out all is well & now damage(whew).
We only rebuilt the motor 2 yrs ago after choking the poor thing on the roads around Birdsville.


Cheers,
Bob.
AnswerID: 359284

Reply By: Member - John T (Tamworth NSW) - Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 11:55

Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 11:55
G'day Willem

I've been promising myself (and the Nissan of course) that I'll get one of these things soon. Seeing that there is now one that just screws into the thermostat housing I might just do it this coming week - before I go off in a few weeks to a clay target shoot in Qld.

Cheers
John T (Lifetime Member)
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 16:23

Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 16:23
Jon !! As Happytraveller mentioned above, the thermostat is too far away from the heat if the engine gets hot, If there is no water, the sensor may not show the real engine block temperature..The sensor sitting in mid air, sensing the air temp. The TM2 as bolted onto the block or close to the middle of the engine. Its a better idea i believe,, Michael
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Follow Up By: Outbackogre - Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 19:06

Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 19:06
Michael, I seem to recall others (and Allan below) saying that the point of the low water alarm is that it operates independent of engine temp. The value in this is that by the time a temp gauge (even one on the block) begins to show a rise damage may already have been done (especially to upper engine components like the head). The low water alarm operates both warning light and buzzer as soon as the sensor in the top radiator hose is no longer immersed in water. Turning off the engine at this point will hopefully avoid damage. Having said this, I confess that I do not yet have a low water alarm fitted. Cheers. Rob.
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 19:17

Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 19:17
Rob I get your point, i was looking from a different angle.. the temp side of things ,not the lack of water.. I guess both types have a place but the lack of water is probably the major concern as it should be in the system.. Michael
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 19:18

Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 19:18
Rob!! I guess we shouldnt drink in front of the computer!LOL!! Michael
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Reply By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 15:46

Sunday, Apr 12, 2009 at 15:46
G'day Willem

I would not be without a Low Level Water Alarm.

Some years ago in my Subaru I smelled "hot oil" and looked down at the temp gauge to see that it was reading "normal". Must be the car in front methinks.
Stopped at the shop a few minutes later and noticed that the engine was "crackling" hot. Found that a heater hose had failed.

The temperature sensor in the Subie was in the top radiator hose connection on top of the engine and with no water it was responding to the radiant heat from the very hot engine which produced a temperature on the sensor of about "normal" reading. The engine was badly damaged.

I added a thermostat alarm clamped directly to the engine.

On my current troopy I have both a water level alarm AND a thermistor temperature alarm directly on the block. Each of these operate a loud buzzer and a bright LED directly in my field of view.
Certainly, temperature of the engine is what we are vitally concerned about but the addition of a water level alarm provides an earlier warning of impending disaster.

It is impractical to monitor the vehicle gauges and instrument panel lamps whilst driving especially while managing a 4WD down a bush track. You would need to scan every 30 seconds or so and anyway they are difficult to see in the bright Australian daylight.

What is really needed is a system in the style of an industrial annunciator to monitor all critical functions and sound an audible alarm with individual lamp indicators. Possibly some of the high-end vehicles have such a system. Perhaps I will develop a system to do this in my troopy. It would not be difficult.

Cheers
Allan

PS: Yes Willem, think I can see your profile near the top centre of the tree bark. Right?
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Monday, Apr 13, 2009 at 23:45

Monday, Apr 13, 2009 at 23:45
"The temperature sensor in the Subie was in the top radiator hose connection on top of the engine and with no water it was responding to the radiant heat from the very hot engine which produced a temperature on the sensor of about "normal" reading."

- aren't all car Temperature Gauges still designed this way ?

- why ???? it's so stupid and it would be so easy and cost no extra money to put the temperature sensor near the source of heat - the cylinder head !
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Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Monday, Apr 13, 2009 at 23:47

Monday, Apr 13, 2009 at 23:47
"What is really needed is a system in the style of an industrial annunciator to monitor all critical functions and sound an audible alarm with individual lamp indicators."

Al you need is a Normally-Open Temperature switch connected to IGN and a Buzzer.

The simpler it is, the more reliable it is.
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2009 at 09:17

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2009 at 09:17
Hi Mike,

"All you need is a Normally-Open Temperature switch connected to IGN and a Buzzer."

By that I presume you mean a mechanical (probably bi-metal) thermostat with physical contacts. And that is precisely what I fitted to the Subaru at the time because it was expedient.

You may consider that to be "simpler" but in fact such devices are proven to be less reliable than basic solid-state electronic products which have been well designed. However what you propose would certainly be better than no alarm.

What I meant by "industrial annunciator" is a relatively simple device which accepts inputs from a number of monitored points such as oil level and pressure, water level and engine temperature, brake fluid level etc and sound an audible alarm if any exceed their set values. Then the specific point that initiated the alarm is identified by its individual lamp, probably an LED. This is certainly not complex electronics and would be more reliable than what is currently installed in many vehicles. In fact it is so easy to produce and install at time of vehicle manufacture that I am surprised that car makers have not gone this way long ago.
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Monday, Apr 13, 2009 at 08:05

Monday, Apr 13, 2009 at 08:05
I've been meaning to fit one myself for some time. Too busy with driver training right now and I head off in late May. Maybe I'll get a chance between our desert tours and when our high country tours start in December

David
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Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2009 at 08:46

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2009 at 08:46
Good point Wllem,

We just had our engine redone, head cracked due to low water and over heating. Water was OK the week before, but son or wife didn't notice temp gauge going up. Not sure who's fault it was, not going there, it happened.

Put in a low water alarm after the rebuild.

Good device as the wife said the other morning that the low water alarm buzzer stayed on longer than normal when starting (it usually gives a beep to confirm it is working when ignition turned on). Checked and the water level was down about 10mm below the radiator cap.
Problem with the over flow hose to the water bottle stopping water coming back. Early resolution which is great.
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Reply By: Member - Mary W NW VIC - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2009 at 19:08

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2009 at 19:08
Have recently fitted one to the landrover Defender.It,s very cheap insurance against engine damage.Reassuring to know water level is fine on start up and seems to be quite sensitive to any lowering of water level.The alarm is quite a peircing squeel and will make you take notice rather than just the usual casual scan of the guages.Great product I reckon,
Cheers,
Mary
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