Saturday, May 13, 2017

Leaving the radiator cap off, for a week

What happens when you leave the radiator open for 1 week, while using the car : BMW E90 2006

Open Radiator
It all started in a warm summer night.  I usually check my car every few months, for anything that may need service.  I've gotten accustomed to this because you never really know when something may fail, and well... I prefer to catch it before it happens.  This was one of those days.

As I usually check the level of oil in my car, no easy task I may add, no dip stick as you know.  But I digress... I was checking the radiator reservoir to see if it was low.  My car usually needs a top off every once in awhile.

 I believe I have a leak somewhere, not very big but big enough to make me have to check the level more often than normal.

I remember the day, it was already dark, and i was trying to rush.  So I did what I usually do I checked the oil level and then the antifreeze.  No big surprise the level was a bit low, and as I usually do I proceed to top off the antifreeze.

Antifreeze, sprayed up and stained the hood padding
But this was the day I had regret would happen.  I forgot to put the cap back on.  Now I have to say I am extremely surprised the cap didn't fall off and create some major havoc, because the cap is a sturdy piece and if lodged in the wrong place could have caused some major damage.  I'll explain why later.

What would happen as a result of leaving the cap off the engine for a week:

DAY 1 : Let me start off by saying that I drive very far to work, and the engine gets hot.  The next morning, I noticed that when I got to work, I could smell something weird, now I wasn't sure if it was from the outside, I just remember thinking... that's a weird smell...  but I got out of my car and I got inside the building and I totally forgot about it.

 When I got out of work and I drove back home, this is when things started to get weird...  When i got home, I parked my car and I turned the engine off, in between me parking and turning off the car, I thought I saw a plume of smoke come out of my "car vents".  For just a second.  I thought I was seeing things, because it didn't smell like smoke.  For a second I didn't know what to think...

DAY 2 :  I got into my car and got to work.  Turned my car off and same deal, I thought I saw a plume of smoke... I am thinking... What is going on!  Did I just see smoke come out of the vent.  Now keep in mind that I get to work before the sun come out, so it's not like it was daylight, it was dark inside my car.

DAY 3 and 4 : I went on my normal day, I couldn't smell smoke, so I assumed everything was fine.  I did not see smoke, and honestly if I did I kinda ignored it.

Day 5  : Finally Friday comes around and when I got home.  It was unmistakable, it was a plume of "Steam" coming out of my car vent, NOT SMOKE this whole time, hence the smell, it was actually steam!

Mystery Solved : Now you might say why was it coming out of the car vent.  Well let me explain what I think happened.  When the radiator fluid got hot and steamed, the cabin fan was ON, so it probably sucked the steam into the cabin, it's a very short trip between the Radiator Cap "area", to the Vent intake.  Mystery Solved.

Did my car get Damaged: The answer is NO.  The fluid in the radiator reservoir wasn't even low, the amount that boiled out wasn't significant.  Now the results would of been much different if I would have pushed the car really hard, but because I was driving to work at freeway speeds most of the time, nothing happened.  Not taking the car for Canon Carving. Also this happened with in One week, if I would of gone longer something different would of happened, I am certain of that.

What happened to the Reservoir cap?  I know you were asking yourself... all this time what happened to the cap, did the cap fall off, where did you put it.  The cap was lodged in between the hood and the engine.  It was a miracle that it didn't fall off.  It could of damaged a lot of things if it got lodged in the wrong place

I hope I don't do this again, this could of been a very different story, luckily it got a good ending.

Until next time...

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