My question: was there some some OBD code or light I should have expected (that didn’t show)? What did the flashing Check Engine Light mean?
At 10:30pm last night, I picked my wife and bro-in-law up from the Logan airport, and on the way to drop BIL at his house, I saw a brief whisp of steam/smoke rise from the passenger side hood/wheel-well when idling at a top-light. I exclaimed that the car was smoking, but BOTH my wife and BIL insisted that we had been stopped over a steam grate. (In 70 degree weather? I puzzled, but since BOTH said that had been the case…).
A few minutes later, the check-engine light flashed (three times, I think) and then went off. I drive with an OBD ScanTool attached on the dash, so I immediately switched it to scan the codes, but it reported “clear” / no codes! Either immediately before or immediately after, the car lost accelerating power for 1 or 2 seconds (at most), but then resumed normal driving. No other dash lights were on, though I did not look at the temp gauge.
I am a former chef and professional cook, and have a VERY sensitive sense of smell-- there was NONE; I watched attentively, and the absence of further smoke/steam seemed to support the unseasonal steam-grate hypothesis. I had also picked up the car within the last 24 hours from THE HONDA DEALERSHIP, who I had asked to look everything over to ensure another 6 months of problem-free driving. (I rejected their offer of a $249.00 “triple flush” of transmission, brakes, and pwr steering.) We have otherwise had zero problems with the transmission or cooling-- the car is old, but maintained reasonably well and driven less that 5000 mi / year. Boston driving, but not aggressive or 19 years old!
No further thought, as all seemed okay except for the brief “blip”, and pregnant wife, brother-in-law, two dogs, and I all wanted to get home.
Drove the 2ish miles to our apartment, with no further blips. At a stoplight about 3 blocks from home, a LOT of smoke/steam started coming out from the hood. Still no lights or OBD codes! At that point, I pulled over within 5 seconds, and noticed that the temp was pinned or nearly so (If there is supposed to be a light on the gauges, I had it all the way dimmed). Looking under the hood, the spray pattern on the hood insulator made it easy to find the split in one of the hoses connected just under the distributor (about 1.25in OD; I’m guessing coolant or transmission, based on the symptoms??).
While waiting for a tow-truck (since I wasn’t even sure if it would do any damage to drive the remaining blocks to my driveway), and after things had a chance to cool a bit, my wife restarted the engine for a second so I could check if any additional fluid came out of that split, but none did. Once the temp was back down towards the low end in 20ish minutes, I drove the car about one block so I could stop blocking traffic-- it drove fine, and the temp didn’t visibly rise in that 200 yards. Still, the CEL was not on (or flashing) during startup or while running, and there were NO OBD CODES.
Call me paranoid, but I look at the hose more closely due to the fact that the dealership had tried to sell me on a transmission flush within the past 24 hours, and had also done a few other sketchy things. The split in the hose was very neat, one-inch long, and perpendicular to the axis of the hose; no cracking, bubbling or other damage was visible. I have no idea how hoses split, but I would assume axially or at the exterior of a bend would be more common. Again, call me paranoid, but this looked as clean as it would if you had used a new razor blade. I am not suggesting that the dealership cut my hose, but the thought did cross my mind-- in the past, they’d tried to sell me a $250 master cylinder when a $10 brake fluid sensor/cap was the problem, and they had just insisted that i needed new rotors and pads even though I had put on less that 18k miles in the three years since I had gotten “lifetime” ceramic pads. They also marked that “customer’s request”, distinct from all the other items on the bill marked “Technician’s Rec”. I will never again trust any of the Spice Compartments dealerships, even though the employees have all been awesome, in person.