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Car was smoking

I have a 1993 Volvo, 940. I drove the car about a 1/4 mile and it started smoking, so I pulled over and stopped…called fire dept…afraid it would catch fire…my antifreeze was empty so I used half a bottle of antifreeze and filled to full line. I waited about 30 minutes for it to cool down and drove against firefighter suggestion and it started smoking again…then I had it towed to my house…any suggestions as to what caused the smoke.

More than likely, what you were seeing was steam from your overheated engine, rather than smoke.

If your radiator was actually dry, this indicates either a bad leak in the cooling system, or a breached head gasket, or a slow leak coupled with not having checked the coolant level for a long time. If you are really lucky, it might just mean that a punctured radiator hose allowed the coolant to escape. When was the last time that you checked the coolant level in this car?

At this point, I would strongly suggest that you have the car towed to a mechanic. It is very possible that some serious damage (warped cylinder head, blown head gasket, scored cylinder liners, bearing damage, etc.) resulted from driving the overheated car until you actually observed the steam. And, driving it again after only 30 minutes probably did not help matters.

Rather than cause more damage, have it towed to a reliable independent mechanic (NOT to any chain-operated repair facility like Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, AAMCO, Pep Boys, etc) for an assessment of what repairs need to be done. Just be prepared for a possible repair bill that exceeds the book value of the car.

And, in the future, try to remember to look at your dashboard gauges and warning lights every few minutes. Your temperature gauge would have indicated overheating long before you saw steam.

You filled WHAT to the full line? The coolant overflow bottle? If so, that antifreeze would NOT go into the hot radiator. It can’t.
When the radiator needs filling, let the engine cool, remove the radiator cap, and put the antifreeze/water mix into the radiator, directly.

Why have the car towed to your house? There is a leak in your cooling system, perhaps a split hose, leaking radiator, or you maybe leaking coolant internally into the cylinders and it is coming out the tailpipe as steam.

If you let the car cool overnight you can remove the radiator cap as hellokit suggests and add coolant to the motor. It could take several gallons of fluid to fill the radiator and engine with coolant. If you only add a quart or so of fluid that isn’t enough. A better and safer option is to have the car towed to a garage for repair.

The “smoke” was from the overheated motor. This happened twice before you stopped the car and that isn’t good for the motor at all. Your motor is made with a lot of aluminum parts and they can warp when overheated. This is why you shouldn’t attempt to drive the car anymore. If the motor isn’t damaged from the overheating thus far, you are looking at repairs in the hundreds of dollars.

If the engine is damaged, or driving it more damages it, then you are looking at repair bills in the thousands of dollars. A '93 Volvo isn’t worth much so you may need to start looking for another car if there is internal damage to your motor.

I never check my radiator…I only add antifreeze to the coolant container up to the fill/full line…my bad…just didn’t think about it…My car was towed to my house because it was late at night…also my mechanic is on vacation. Do I need anti-freeze with a water since fall/winter is coming…please suggest? Thank you all so much.

I think that you need to re-read the advice that 3 of us have given you already.
Your car is WAY beyond simply adding coolant and water.

You need to find out exactly what took place underneath the hood of this car.
If you are very lucky, it may just be a bad radiator hose and nothing more.
More likely, you have some more extensive repairs that will need to be done to–at the very least–fix the cooling system leak, or–very possibly–to repair damage from driving with an overheating engine.

This car should not be considered driveable at this point.
Have it towed to a mechanic.

Thank you again, I do understand and will follow all advice.