Who knew that cars had radiators?

In response to writing workshop #30 at Sleep Is For The Weak I have chosen prompt number 2 – tell us a story of something that happened with a bang?

Well, this is how it goes . . . .

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Approximately 10 years ago when I was the very proud owner of a Honda Civic 1.5LSi I had a little incident that taught me a very worthwhile lesson in looking after your car.  I had always prided myself that as my Grandad had been a mechanic for many years, I knew a little about cars.  “Little” apparently being the operative word.  It’s not that my Grandad had ever taken me to one side and given me a one on one lesson in how to maintain my car but I kind of assumed that it was in my blood.

Every time I was about to set off on a long journey, I would remember to always check my water, oil and tyres.  I knew how to top up the ionic water in my car battery, I knew where the brake fluid was and was happy to check that – yes I was a very clever girl – or so I thought!

One very hot summer, I complained to my then boyfriend that the temperature gauge on my car kept showing too high and I didn’t understand why.  He asked, like my Grandad would have, if I had checked my water.  Yes, I would reply confidently, of course I’ve checked my water.  So he told me that sometimes in hot weather if I’ve been stuck in slow traffic then the engine can become a little warm but not to worry, all I needed to do was put the blowers on full power for a few minutes with the heat on full and it take the heat out of the engine.  Who was I to argue, he was an ex-army engineer, he should definitely know more than me, so I listened and did as I was told.

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At the time I was living in Skegness and decided to have a trip to Ikea in Nottingham with my Mum.  As I said, it was a very hot summer, this day in particular.  So we set off, windows down, music blaring and us singing along badly in our best voices. 

When we were about 20 minutes away from Nottingham, I noticed the temperature gauge had crept up again so I did as I was told.  I turned up the heat and put the blowers on full force – it was murder in the car having all this warm air pumped into your face but it had the desired effect and slowly but surely the temperature gauge dropped.  Mum was quite impressed that I knew this little trick.

We arrived safely, spent way too much money in Ikea, had some lunch and later decided to head home with our new treasures.  On the way home, the temperature gauge crept up again and so I tried my little trick out.  Only this time it didn’t quite go to plan.  Suddenly there was more than just the one bang, my car started juddering, banging and made an awful rattling sound before I let it slink feebly off to the side of the road.  When I lifted the bonnet I was greeted by huge puffs of steam. 

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A kind gentleman stopped to see if we were ok.  He took one look into the engine and said “oh dear, have you not been filling your water up?”.  I became quite defensive and said, “yes I always check my water before a long journey, my Grandad was a mechanic you know”.  “Mmmm” he said, “where exactly have you been filling the water up?”.  So I pointed to the washer bottles for the windscreen wipers.  “Very good” he said, “but what about the radiator?”.  “Radiator?” I said, “what’s the radiator?”.  “This big thing here with a ruddy great hole in it where it has burnt dry”.

Ooooops!!!  Turns out I was supposed to be checking the water levels on the radiator and as I hadn’t it had used up all the water and had nothing left to keep the engine cool.  I had messed it up so well that it even destroyed my pistons (the lovely rattling sound).  A few hundred pounds later I had learnt my lesson, there was more water in the engine than just the washer bottles!  Fingers crossed I don’t get caught out like that again!!!!

2 Comments

  1. Josie
    July 18, 2010 / 7:40 pm

    OH NO!!!! That sounds like something my husband would do!! He knows nothing about cars and had a rather similar incident with the oil… ahem…

    Great story!

    • mummymatters
      July 19, 2010 / 8:44 pm

      Thanks for dropping by! Yes I did feel ever-so-slightly embarassed as I was so sure I had been doing all the right things. Mind you, I’ve never forgotten to check all my waters since!

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