Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Pop Quiz: Guess the fairly easy to replace, less than $2 part, that suddenly failed after 181,000 miles on my 2005 Pontiac Bonneville, nearly stranding me and threatening my engine's life

It happened this week. I had no drivability symptoms, but I noticed the failure right away when I stopped at a store near the golf course. I made a purchase and decided to play Monday a.m. golf as scheduled.

Afterwards, I decided by taking precautions, using something I carried in my trunk, that I could carefully drive back from town, but not beyond that.

At home I was surprised by my diagnosis when I got home! I was thinking it was bad. I thought it would cost me over $100 or $200!

Could it be that some of you have seen this before? I never have and have never heard of it, either. What was it? :thinking:

You could notice coolant leakage easily so heater hose clamp would be the first guess. Duct tape might cover the leak on a hose so you could open the coolant cap and drive home. A piece of garden hose can sub for heater hose.

Exhaust pipe clamp?

A engine part? Under the hood that you can’t see with the hood closed? That can cause engine failure? You could not smell anything like coolant or burning oil? You only noticed the problem when you were outside the car looking at front end?

Oil pressure relief valve?

Broken lug on wheel hub.

Blinker fluid low?
Muffler bearing needed grease?
Loose nut behind the wheel?


One of you is very close!
No, it’s not @eddo "Loose nut behind the wheel?" :blush:

1 Like

Something that would spin an oil leak; aka, pressure sending unit.

For something potentially engine damaging you weren’t suspecting while driving, but you’d notice after exiting the car to buy a big gulp say on the way to golf, that seems like it has to be something leaking onto the ground under the car, or smoke or steam coming from the engine compartment. Smoke or steam seem unlikely to be fixable with something you routinely carry in your trunk though, although perhaps a leaking cooling hose might be fixable with a screwdriver you’d carry in your trunk. Oil leaks causing smoke less fixable, but it could be aleaking valve cover gasket that you might be able to effect a temporary fix. I’m thinking though what you saw was coolant, thinking it was a leaking water pump or blown radiator. But it was just a leaking hose or cooling pipe connection of some kind you could fix with some tape your bought for $2, or tightening a clamp with a screwdriver, and you had to buy a bolt for $2 b/c it had fallen out.

Leaking core plug?

Can you give us more clues? Otherwise we’ll be flapping in the wind forever.

Some guessed correctly. It was a clamp.

When I stopped at the store a puddle of coolant formed on the ground under the passenger’s side end of the radiator. I had no smells as symptoms because coolant did not steam or land on any hot engine parts.

At the golf course, after the car cooled for about 5 hours there was more coolant under the radiator, but surprisingly the leaking had stopped when the car cooled.

I noticed the recovery reservoir was nearly empty so I took off the radiator cap and the radiator was full to the top of the neck. I carry “make-up” fluids (oil & Dex-Cool coolant) in the trunk and although it wouldn’t necessarily help me I added coolant to the reservoir so I’d feel more normal :wink: .

I was sure that the radiator was shot and decided to drive home (I have a temperature gauge and a “low coolant” message in the driver information center.) where I could install a radiator myself. I checked and Rock Auto could get one to my house for $107.

When the car was cold I snaked my hand (tight fit) to the bottom of where the lower radiator hose attaches to the radiator (above the leak). It was wet underneath, but dry above! Could it be just a hose that went bad? I bought a hose and started to remove the old one. When I squeezed the factory installed radiator clamp to remove it the clamp offered no resistance and fell apart! The clamp consist of 2 bands and 1 band was very rusty like it had been broken for a long time (see pictures).



This picture shows that the clamp was a little hard to access. The golf tee is pointing to my all stainless replacement clamp.

Have you ever heard of somebody driving down the street and had a catastrophic hose clamp failure? I have not experienced this. I tried to figure what caused it. Believe it or not I don’t think it was rust, but I’m not impressed with the quality of the steel in the clamp. And, “yes” I checked the motor mounts to be sure the engine didn’t pull on the hose. Could one of the bands on that clamp been broken when originally installed at the factory?

I have now. :grin:

well, in a few weeks this thread will be off page 1. which is nice. i dont like 45 word thread titles. but thats just me. maybe the thread about the elec car and florida will be pushed down too

There was a loose nut behind the steering wheel? One frosty morning, I was scraping frost from the winshield of my 1986 Nissan Hardbody pickup.(with the non-hard body driver), I felt someting squirt on my foot.

Some water had accumulated in the plastic fuel filter and had frozen, craking the housing. The fuel then shot out of the wheel housing hitting me. Easy fix and no stranding. My shoe did stink of gasoline.

I was misled by that, knowing all you do about cars.

@common_sense_answer. Something similar happened to my first wife. She was returning from the 80 mile trip from visiting her parents in the 1965 Rambler. She was just ready to pull off the interstate and was about 10 miles from home and a heater hose blew off. The car was less than three years old at the time. She pulled into a farm and called me. I had a friend drive me out, but when I got there, the farmer had put a new clamp on the hose and filled the radiator with water. He wouldn’t take any money. I was surprised that the factory clamp hadn’t held.

Thanks for your thoughtful response! :smile:

However, that is a little off topic!
It’s only 40 off topic words, though. Any way you could possibly stretch it out to about 45 or 46 words…
… or maybe just go kick the dog or something? :wink:

Perhaps you should start your own thread about “I don’t like 45 word thread titles!” How about adding,“I’m going to go eat some worms!” :laughing:

I’'m guessing that some point months or years ago one half of the band broke, Rust sets in and at some point the other half let loose.

1 Like