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Question DetailsAsked on 5/30/2017

What does it mean when white smoke come from your radiator hose...

Inside of your car.. the radiator hole is white smoke and smoke from the radiator

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1 Answer


I would guess the steam (that is almost certainly steam, not smoke) is coming from the cap on the hose near the radiator, and maybe from the coolant tank next/on top of the radiator - or possibly from a radiator crack or hole. It means your engine is seriously overheating - almost certainly due to low coolant from a leak - could be an internal engine coolant leak, leaking hose or hose connection, or a cracked or pinholed radiator. Can also occur due to a failed/stuck thermostat keeping the coolant from circulating, resulting in engine overheating. Can also occur due to a fan or fan thermostat failure, resulting in inadequate engine cooling.

Stop driving immediately - keep driving and there is very high risk to totally junking your engine due to overheating. Then you have two choices.

1) Safest for the car - immediately stop driving it and have it taken to a repair shop by a towing company. Ditto if the engine starts hard or runs rough, or was running rough or rocking or cylinders were misfiring before you shut it off. Also, if you start filling the coolant system with water and it starts leaking out on the ground, you should not attempt to drive it.

2) Alternative, only if you do not have far (more than a few miles) to go to a repair shop of your choice - turn the engine off, let cool till the radiator and hose radiator cap are only warm (cool enough to rest you hand on - this may take 1/2-1 hour probably if steaming) - not hot, then fill the radiator hose (at the metal cap) full, and the coolant reserve plastic tank full with water - and then check you do not have a significant (more than drips) leak under the car before driving it - then drive to a nearby repair shop, again stopping immediately if you see steam or engine starts running rough. Note - filling the reserve tank to full gives you more water for the system to make up for any small leak - but also means as car warms up it will start overflowing water as it expands - but should not be steam. Probably around 5 minutes driving might be safe after you have refilled it - any longer runs the risk of overheating again if it starts leaking on you while driving, like a leak that only happens when it is hot. If your temperature gauge (if you have a gauge) goes into the HOT or red zone you are overheating again and should pull off the road and shut off the engine to cool - ditto if an engine idiot light comes on.

Repair cost - might be as low as around $100-150 if only a cracked/loose hose or failed thermostat - cracked radiator typically more in the several hundred to five hundred range, and if an internal engine coolant leak can run quite a few hundreds into the thousands depending on how easy it is to diagnose and whether it is due to a failed gasket or a cracked head or block.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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