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Rad Cap Failure - REVISED
Posted 01 May 2005 - 03:04 AM
I have just been on a one-day driving course on the world (in)famous Nürburgring. Since I am so very careful in terms of preventative maintenance I kept an extra watchful eye on all the car's fluids.
I thought the cooling system overflow tank level was a little higher than usual after the first lap. However, this is normal for my car on trackdays. Rest of the day, I ran cabin heat to be on the safe side.
Within the next few days I discovered that the car was pumping out coolant through the vent hole in the top of the overflow tank. YIKES! Sounds like head gasket failure, right? Squeezing the upper radiator hose revealed it to be soft, meaning no pressure in the cooling system. This thankfully, is not typical og HG leaks.
A new radiator cap seems to have cured the problem. There is pressure again and the overflow isn't overflowing :-)
So, during the atmospheric pressure only period the car has chucked up about half a litre of coolant. HOWEVER, there were no symptoms to be noticed from the drivers seat. Temp fine, fuel economy fine, no rough running or anything.
A tired rad cap is therefore a tricky fault to notice and yet it is potentially fatal for HG's. Running at atmospheric pressure there is the possibility of local boiling due to the lowered boiling point and this must cause some serious stress around cylinders as temperature gradients grow.
I bring you all this news because I think the rad cap should be considered a "regular" maintance item. I know lots of you already change it along with the coolant, but some of us need to learn ;-)
I have noticed something: Normally if I switch off my engine at full operating temp, flipping the key back to "ON" immediately afterward the temp needle comes up just below the normal op temp.
While the cap was failing, the temp needle would rise to full op temp.
Subtle clue indeed!
Posted 01 May 2005 - 09:55 AM
Posted 01 May 2005 - 12:23 PM
with my last coolant flush
not a bad idea as the seals on the caps can go sour after a while
Posted 01 May 2005 - 12:25 PM
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