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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Took my '68 to a car show yesterday. It was a 100 mile trip one way. Got to the show with no problems and the car ran fine. On the return trip we were about halfway home when the engine overheated. Pulled off the road as quickly as possible, shut off the engine and popped the hood. There was steam blasting out on one side of the radiator cap. Called a local towing company(thank God for cell phones!) and he got us home with the car. Off loaded it at the local automotive repair shop and had a closer look at it since it had time to cool down. Everything looked normal until one of the guys went to remove the radiator cap and discovered it was not installed properly. I have a ritual I follow religiously before even starting the car. Check oil level, check coolant level, check transmission fluid, check battery, check tire pressure and etc. As for the radiator cap, I've removed and re-installed it hundreds of times and always make sure it is on there properly. Never had any overheating issues before and the radiator was repaired last summer due to a tiny pinhole leak and passed all pressure tests at a local radiator shop that has been in business for over 50 years. How did the cap come loose?? The only explanation among everyone in the shop was that someone at the car show must have tampered with it as a sick joke. Anyway, if I ever show the car again, I'll be checking the radiator cap and other things before heading back home!!
Now to my question...Is my engine shot?
I haven't heard back from the service manager yet, but he assured me that they would check everything this week and get back to me.
If this has ever happened to you, I would be interested to hear how you turned out.
Sorry for the long read and thanks in advance for any input!!
(also, I'm not looking for sympathy, just answers)
 

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Took my '68 to a car show yesterday. It was a 100 mile trip one way. Got to the show with no problems and the car ran fine. On the return trip we were about halfway home when the engine overheated. Pulled off the road as quickly as possible, shut off the engine and popped the hood. There was steam blasting out on one side of the radiator cap. Called a local towing company(thank God for cell phones!) and he got us home with the car. Off loaded it at the local automotive repair shop and had a closer look at it since it had time to cool down. Everything looked normal until one of the guys went to remove the radiator cap and discovered it was not installed properly. I have a ritual I follow religiously before even starting the car. Check oil level, check coolant level, check transmission fluid, check battery, check tire pressure and etc. As for the radiator cap, I've removed and re-installed it hundreds of times and always make sure it is on there properly. Never had any overheating issues before and the radiator was repaired last summer due to a tiny pinhole leak and passed all pressure tests at a local radiator shop that has been in business for over 50 years. How did the cap come loose?? The only explanation among everyone in the shop was that someone at the car show must have tampered with it as a sick joke. Anyway, if I ever show the car again, I'll be checking the radiator cap and other things before heading back home!!
Now to my question...Is my engine shot?
I haven't heard back from the service manager yet, but he assured me that they would check everything this week and get back to me.
If this has ever happened to you, I would be interested to hear how you turned out.
Sorry for the long read and thanks in advance for any input!!
(also, I'm not looking for sympathy, just answers)
If the cap was't on correctly, it wouldn't have built any pressure before boiling over, so it would have been at a much lower temperature than if the cap had been sealed properly. I suspect you'll find no permanent damage.
 

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'68 396 SS/RS, '97 SS, '02 SS
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As long is it hadn't overheated long before you realized it and shut it down you should be okay.
Typically the engine will begin to spark knock and you can usually smell antifreeze when it overheats.
 

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I overheated my engine pretty severely years ago. Stuck thermostat and I was not paying attention to the console gages. The car ran fine after that. I decided to rebuild the engine a fresh years later for other reasons. Had to mill 0.010 of the heads to make them perfectly flat. Did not have any issues with head gasket sealing before I took it apart. My guess is that you did not hurt it too bad.
 

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'68 396 SS/RS, '97 SS, '02 SS
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I had a rather new '99 Yukon once and tried to knock the *** end of an F-250 off with it. When I got it back on Christmas eve it seemed fine. Christmas Day I'm headed to a family gathering and the wife says what that light on the dash. It was my temperature light. The body shop didn't tighten the lower radiator hose clamp and the hose blew off losing all of my coolant. I immediately pulled over had some engine spark knock and sounded like it was dieseling when I shut it off. Re-installed the hose and watered her up and away we went with no issues. I think I put about another 100k on it before I sold it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If the cap was't on correctly, it wouldn't have built any pressure before boiling over, so it would have been at a much lower temperature than if the cap had been sealed properly. I suspect you'll find no permanent damage.
Thanks for the vote of confidence! I may be able to sleep tonight! :ROFLMAO:
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As long is it hadn't overheated long before you realized it and shut it down you should be okay.
Typically the engine will begin to spark knock and you can usually smell antifreeze when it overheats.
I caught a slight scent of antifreeze for a split-second at a stoplight, but that was it. It was starting to knock before I pulled off the highway and shut it down. My wife said she smelled something "hot" before I pulled over and that's the side that the cap is on. Thanks for the input!(y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I overheated my engine pretty severely years ago. Stuck thermostat and I was not paying attention to the console gages. The car ran fine after that. I decided to rebuild the engine a fresh years later for other reasons. Had to mill 0.010 of the heads to make them perfectly flat. Did not have any issues with head gasket sealing before I took it apart. My guess is that you did not hurt it too bad.
Thanks, Rich! Sounds promising!
I don't have the console gauges, only warning lights and none of them came on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I had a rather new '99 Yukon once and tried to knock the *** end of an F-250 off with it. When I got it back on Christmas eve it seemed fine. Christmas Day I'm headed to a family gathering and the wife says what that light on the dash. It was my temperature light. The body shop didn't tighten the lower radiator hose clamp and the hose blew off losing all of my coolant. I immediately pulled over had some engine spark knock and sounded like it was dieseling when I shut it off. Re-installed the hose and watered her up and away we went with no issues. I think I put about another 100k on it before I sold it.
WOW! That's a great story!
Maybe the guy at the body shop is the same guy that loosened my radiator cap??:LOL:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Don't know why you took it to a shop instead of re-filling the radiator, installing the cap correctly and trying it out?

My guess is NO damage (y)
Well, I wasn't sure of the extent of the damage. I've owned cars for fifty years and never had one overheat. My car has the original engine and it has never been out of the car since it was installed at the factory. Do I baby this car? Yes, I do. But, I also give it opportunities to "stretch it's legs" once in a while.
Also, I trust this shop and it's people. They have been good to me in the past and have even done simple work and not charged me a dime. They're main goal is to provide service and they do it well!
However, if this ever happens again, I promise to follow your advice and just get it home to work on it myself.
Thanks for replying! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
IF it was still puking coolant when you discovered it and shut it down, it is most likely not harmed. If you start it up and no knocks, I am betting you are good to go.
That's exactly what happened.
Hopefully I will hear back from them tomorrow.
Thanks for your input! (y)(y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Replace the thermostat so you’ll know the status, refill coolant to about two inches below the cap, tighten the cap, drive.
Great idea on the thermostat!
It came with a high flow version originally and I replaced it a few years ago with the same type.
Thanks for the tip!!(y)(y)
 

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Thanks, Rich! Sounds promising!
I don't have the console gauges, only warning lights and none of them came on.
I'd check to see if the thermostat wire is connected and if so then reach behind the gauge cluster and wiggle the bulb socket a little. Probably just a bad ground connection.
 

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Took my '68 to a car show yesterday. It was a 100 mile trip one way. Got to the show with no problems and the car ran fine. On the return trip we were about halfway home when the engine overheated. Pulled off the road as quickly as possible, shut off the engine and popped the hood. There was steam blasting out on one side of the radiator cap. Called a local towing company(thank God for cell phones!) and he got us home with the car. Off loaded it at the local automotive repair shop and had a closer look at it since it had time to cool down. Everything looked normal until one of the guys went to remove the radiator cap and discovered it was not installed properly. I have a ritual I follow religiously before even starting the car. Check oil level, check coolant level, check transmission fluid, check battery, check tire pressure and etc. As for the radiator cap, I've removed and re-installed it hundreds of times and always make sure it is on there properly. Never had any overheating issues before and the radiator was repaired last summer due to a tiny pinhole leak and passed all pressure tests at a local radiator shop that has been in business for over 50 years. How did the cap come loose?? The only explanation among everyone in the shop was that someone at the car show must have tampered with it as a sick joke. Anyway, if I ever show the car again, I'll be checking the radiator cap and other things before heading back home!!
Now to my question...Is my engine shot?
I haven't heard back from the service manager yet, but he assured me that they would check everything this week and get back to me.
If this has ever happened to you, I would be interested to hear how you turned out.
Sorry for the long read and thanks in advance for any input!!
(also, I'm not looking for sympathy, just answers)
First you need to define “overheated” and be specific.
Second, cap was loose for whatever reason.…can’t go back.
3rd, once it gets filled with coolant and driven you’ll know. All bets are off, but typically you’ll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I had something similar happen. Pretty positive someone at the car show loosened my cap as well. Like others have said, I doubt there is any permanent damage.
Thanks for sharing that!
Knowing that it happened to another person makes my theory more plausible.
Sure glad you sustained no damage!
 

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I have seen many vehicles overheat over the years. My own, friends' cars, and customers cars at the body shop. Only when a car is driven for a period of time "after" the coolant is gone, have I seen them need head gaskets, or warped heads resulted. I think you will be fine.
 
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