Radiator Cap fell apart and not sure if it may have cause more problems

My radiator cap went bad in my camry about a year ago but I didnt realize that was why my overflow tank kept bubbling after I turned off my car until finally my car began to overheat. So when it overheated, I checked the radiator cap and it had completely deteriorated, there was no spring or grommet anywhere in site! So I purchased a new radiator cap and put it on and it seemed my problem was fixed. No more boiling over in my reserve tank and no more over heating, everything was fine. Then about 2-3 months later after having no issues at all, I was sitting in a drive thru and all of a sudden I saw steam start to come out from underneath my hood. I looked down at my gages and my temp gage was up in the red! I immediately cut my car off and waited for it to cool and then filled it up with water. I was nervous driving it home but the temp gage stayed right where it was suppose to at the half way mark…no problems at all. I drove it after that for a few months with no issues at all then one day I was sitting at a stop light and I heard a strange gurgling sound coming from the center of my dashboard and all of a sudden I saw my temp gage start rising. I was moving to side of the road so I could cut it off and before I did, the temp quickly went back down to where it was suppose to be. After that, I noticed that my car had started to loose water because I had to put some in it every other day for it to be full and the temp gage did that strange thing where it would start to rise up close to the red mark but then would quickly drop back down to normal on its own. I drove a couple more months like this but now theres a terrible sound coming from underneath my hood and we checked it and now the water pump has started to leak…so what I was wondering is could the grommet and spring that disappeared back when I first had this problem start…be the cause of all of the rest of my problems that occured? I dont want to replace the water pump and then that grommet still be in the system somewhere to cause this problem to start all over again…What should I do or how can I know if its in there somewhere? Theres also a lot of rapid bubbling now when I try to add water to my tank which concerns me it could be blown head gasket but there is no sign of water in my oil and there is no white smoke coming from my tail pipe. I know it needs to go to the shop but I have no money to pay anyone right now to fix it so Ive got to try to figure it out on my own cause I have no other option.

There will be replies from folks on this site that are more knowledgeable than I.
But here is my opinion.
For the radiator cap to have failed in that manner the wrong coolant or incompatible coolant was added to the system. Having to add water every other day indicated either a leak ( prior to the water pump leak) or boiling over if you are only using water instead of coolant.
Unfortunately my GUESS is you are looking at replacing the radiator along with the water pump. Then you can do a pressure check for any other leaks.
Prior to this the gasses in the radiator can be tested to see if they are from combustion indicating a head gasket leak, hopefully it is just air being introduced into the system from one of the leaks. The gurgling sound under the dash is likely the air in the coolant going through your heater core.


Out of curiosity in all of these months did you ever actually change the coolant, or did you just leave the old stuff in that disintegrated your cap to begin with? I am also guessing your thermostats are not in like new condition.

@Purebred has a pretty good analysis. I’d add an additional point. If this car (truck, van, tractor - you never said) has been hot enough to vent the coolant even once, the head gasket may now be leaking.

Thanks for your reply. I believe you are probably right. I think the rason the radiator cap fell apart as it did was because I put straight 100%antifreeze in it instead of 50/50 thinking it would work better if I didnt dilute it…dumb move I know (now) I will also have to replace the timing belt since it is a belt driven water pump so if It also has a head gasket leak then Ill probably just save myself the trouble and just start saving for a new car because it will be more work than the car is even worth (its a 98 camry) but thanks again for your response, youve been very helpful

I think that you have already killed this car but fir future reference, some of your cars symptoms point to your radiator fans bot coming on. Engine temp rising when sitting and cools down when you start moving. The next tomw your temp goes up leave the car in park with the engine running and pop the hood and see if the fans are running.

You say you drove it for several months like this because you could not afford a repair. Do you really think it is cheaper to have to replace the car?

Neglected repairs usually but not always get more expensive.