You always have that one friend who knows a lot about cars – what the latest models are, which car broke what record, and how much a specific model is. But rarely will they talk about car maintenance, or their wonderful, recent trip to Autobell. They won’t even know how to replace coolants, or at least, how to properly deal with an overheating radiator.
They won’t even tell you how it’s a bad idea to open one while it’s angry-hot. Lucky for you, we’ve looked far and wide for stories about people doing dumb things with their car, and what lessons they learned – after they found themselves in the E.R.
1. Coolant isn’t Cool
One person shares how they always believed that a car’s engine would cool down faster if they let some steam out of the radiator cap. The car owner was 19 years old at that time, and this belief changed right after he opened the cap. Steaming-hot coolant shot up and he ended with second-degree and third degree burns in the E.R.
Lesson: Just because it’s steaming, it doesn’t mean you should air it out. Pro Tip: Let the coolant inside the radiator cool down with the help of a water hose Wet the front, sides, and back of the radiator to lower the temperature faster.
2. A Head Full of Snow
A 35-year old driver thought the cold weather would help bring the heat on the radiator down, and he guessed wrong when he opened the radiator cap. Sure, winter in the northern states was definitely colder, but that doesn’t mean the inside of the radiator was also enjoying the weather.
Cut to the scene – boiling coolant sprayed everywhere, and in an effort to save his face, he bent down, with his head receiving a generous amount of hot liquid. The coolant burned his hair, and all he was left was a bald head. Head full of snow indeed.
Lesson: The temperature difference of the radiator and the weather still matters. The differing temperatures create pressure differences. Never open a hot radiator in cold weather. Always wait for the temperatures to equalize.
3. You’ve got cool(ant in your) eyes.
A 21-year old was working on his first ever car, and he wasn’t doing anything to the radiator just yet. He just pulled up in his garage, and decided it would be a good idea to dabble in beginner car mechanics.
All was well and good until the second-hand car had some loose pieces, and the radiator hose broke, spraying a good deal of antifreeze on his eyes. Good thing his friend was out back, and a cold bottle of water saved his eyes from burning. Close call.
4. Labels stay useful, even if Teach isn’t being one.
A student shares her experience with a teacher that showed her what the parts of the car looked like. The student says her teacher is trying to impress her, with the teacher saying “this is so and so.”
The teacher gets to the radiator part, and he recoils with “ow, that’s hot!”. The student leans in closer to the car, becoming more interested in the label that says “Do not open when it’s hot.” She proceeds to caution the teacher, but she is ignored. The radiator cap hisses and coolant lands on her exposed legs. Bad day to wear short shorts. Even worse when your teacher is being a bad example.
Lesson: Just follow the labels. “DO NOT OPEN WHEN HOT”
5. Mid-Traffic Science Show Volcano
One of the best experiences is being live on TV. How about making it on TV news? A truck driver was stuck in heavy traffic when his engines overheated. He proceeds to open the radiator cap and the coolants bubble from underneath.
He throws a rag over it, twists the cap, and bam! No explosions happen, but a street-wide fog created by the evaporating coolant is cause for more traffic delay. It looked like his truck was on fire, and he became the local morning news headline.
Lesson: If you’re going for first prize, make sure the post-awards ceremony isn’t going to cause traffic issues. Pro Tip: Always try to use a rag to contain the spill (and some of the steam.)