Drove car with radiator cap loose :(

Asked by Dec 23, 2015 at 01:06 PM about the 1998 Honda Civic EX

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Okay so I left the cap loose and I drove it for
about 15 miles as I'm getting off the freeway
I notice there's white smoke coming out of
he hood and the temperature meter was
going up. So I stopped as soon as I could. I
open the hood and notice the cap is loose
but there was still coolent in the radiator and
I put the cap on tight. There wasn't water in
the reserve and there was a 711 like 3
blocks up so I let the car cool down for
about 20 minutes and drove it to he 711 and
it was till marking it was over heating so I
opened the hood and let it cool off again for
like 10 minutes and the pored water in the
reserve. After I pored little by little water on
the radiator to cool it down (idk if this is
where I messed up) and waited another 20
minutes drove back home witch was like 5
minutes from there the temperature went
down but when I got home it was rising a
little so after that I did not moved the car. In
he morning I checked the radiator and it had
a little coolent so I filled it up. So I drove it
for a test run and I was checking the
temperature meter all the time and it wasn't
over heating but after I drove it for like 20
minutes I noticed that a little bit of white
smoke started coming out of the hood after
I would make stops or at a red light. Can any
one tell me if I just messed up my car?? Oh
and the cooling fan doesn't work so I don't
know if that might have something to do
with it?

5 Answers


Well so far so good, did you open the hood to see if the smoke was just some spillage onto the radiator or somewhere? Excess may just be burning off. The temp. sounded good when you are driving, but the car will get hot if the fans are not working.

No I didn't check where the smoke was coming from I will check that today I'm going to give it another test run. Yea the fan has never worked so I really don't know if it's that. So maybe I should look in trying to fix that. I seen a lot of comments that I probably had to rebuild the motor do you think that's true?


Only if you blew a head gasket, and the car has a lot of miles on it, or if it is starting to knock then yes. If it stays cool, then so far so good. When you go for a drive, watch the exhaust for a lot of white smoke.

Okay thank you :)


Fix the fan while you are at it. An inoperable fan will cause significant variations in temp since its purpose is to keep air moving across the radiator veins. With the car not moving or moving slowly, there is not enough air flow to keep the radiator pulling heat out of the coolant and your engine temp will rise.

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