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Rolled Cavalier -- lots of white smoke

My son rolled his 2004 Chevy Cavalier at low speed (5 MPH) while making the turn at the end of a Taco Bell drive-thru. That’s a story in itself, but right now I need some automotive advice. The body damage may not be enough to total it, but my problem is that it’s emitting great quantities of white smoke from the tailpipe. Is this something serious, or will it go away after driving it awhile? I’ve read that white smoke means water or antifreeze is leaking into the cylinders, but how can that happen as a result of a rollover.

Possibly oil ran from the oil pan to the valve cover when it was upside down. When righted, the oil may have drained down into the cylinders. I suggest removing the spark plugs and turning the engine over with the starter to pump the oil out.

Maybe water got into the cylinders during the rollover.

I agree with you about white smoke and water/antifreeze. Oil smoke would be blue or gray. But it may be worthwhile to remove the plugs.

It’s possible the roll ( though not likey) jarred the engine enough to break a head gasket or even the head. Insurance most likely will not cover this unless you can prove this was related. They can send out an appraiser to inspect the car. I have inspected over 5,000 cars for different insurance companies and I can say Cavaliers & S10 Blazers have the highest roll over rate of any vehicle. I would trade if it were me. Hope all works out ok for you.

I’d be very surprised if the engine was jarred enough to break the head or gasket. The hood didn’t even get pushed in enough to touch the engine. Do insurance appraisers generally know enough about engines to evaluate this, or do they mostly just look at the body? I appreciate your experience, but I’m not sure the one I get will have that skill. That’s very interesting about the Cavalier being so rollover prone – I’ll take that into consideration with the replacement. Thanks for the input.

What is it about the Cavalier that makes it rollover prone any more than other similarly sized cars?

It all depands on the appraiser. The bigger comp. offer training but the independant appraising companies basically just give the appraisers their assignments and boot them out the door and say “here, go look at these”. Also some guys just know about cars and some don’t. A good appraiser will know about engines also since they are sometimes damaged in wrecks, although most don’t happen at Taco Bell. JUST KIDDING. Hope that helps and post something if you need and I’ll check back in a day or two. Take care

What I read from Illinois Dept of Trans. did not say but I would guess is a bad combo of short wheelbase and narrow track. After thinking about it I did look at these 2 vehicles more in rollovers than any other. What is odd is mini vans are very stable and do not roll over much.

I have been a lucky driver. The 63 Galaxy was lucky if it rolled forward. With me driving anyway.

I don’t think the Cavaliers are more roll-over prone than most other cars. I have seen dozens, if not hundreds, of wrecked Cavaliers and their Pontiac brethern, the Sunbird. I can only recall ONE rolled Cavalier. See: Perhaps someone else here is a CR subscriber who can get past this limited list to show us the whole thing. This National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study gave the Cavalier a 4 out of 5 rating for rollover resistance.

As to the original poster’s problem, how long did you let it run while the blue smoke billowed out? I bought a rolled '04 Taurus a while back. It blew blue for about 15 minutes, and then straightend out. I have used most of the straight body parts on other Tauri. Anybody need a good DOHC 3.0L Taurus engine or transmission?

I only ran it for 4 or 5 minutes to see if the smoke would stop. I’ll try again for 15 min and see if that helps. I’ll be sure to turn off the porch lights so no one can see the cloud of pollution emanating from my house. I’ll post back and let you know if it worked.

OK, I ran it for 15 minutes to get it up to regular operating temperature. After initial starting puff, there was minimal smoke at idle speed, then after 15 minutes I revved it up a bit. The huge white cloud returned, and dense white smoke continued to pour out the tailpipe even after it idled for a couple more minutes. I don’t think running it even longer is going to do any good. Any more suggestions…anybody?

I’d be willing to bet that the roll rate is influenced by the category of driver: that is, young, inexperienced drivers drive Cavaliers and S10 Blazers. Older, more mature drivers drive Honda Odysseys.

The others have answered your post, but I’m having difficulty with the 5 mph rollover business.

For one thing, CR is only a guide, not the final word. I do not believe the stat on the Cavalier rollover posted. But that’s JMHO.

My guess is your son had a carfull of buddies that thought it might be fun to see if the car Would roll over going around the sharp bend at the Taco Bell drive thru.

I can see it now… "ok guys, ALL together now…get up and shift our bodies as quickly and as far over to the right (or left) as possible!

Whoops! HEY! Oh boy.

Am I close, Eekmaddog?

Which end of the Taco Bell drive thru? Street exit?

I can imagine a scenario where any car would roll at low speed - if there was a rising curb/wall on the inside of the turn, it’s possible the car could get one or both wheels on one side up on the lower part of the curb, and as the curb rises, the car would eventually flip over. I’ve seen this happen to forklifts where there is a level barrier on the side of a downward sloping loading dock - the forklift would get one side up on the wall, and before the driver knows it, the lift is on it’s side. A young driver, not paying attention, could easily do the same thing.

I’m interested to hear whether I’m right. So, Eekmaddog, are you going to tell us how your son managed to roll his car?

Actually you’re not even close, but the truth is even stranger. He was alone in the car and was leaving the Taco Bell drive-thru after receiving his food. The exit loops around the end of the building so you have to almost make a U-turn to get out. On the inside of the curve are concrete filled pipes to keep you from hitting something (I’m not sure what). He turned his wheel just a little too sharply and his tire hit one of these bollards – not the bumper or fender – just the part of the tire that protruded beyond the fender. He must have hit the pipe dead center because the tire went right up the pipe as it bent over, creating a launching ramp that was just enough to turn over his car. If the bollard had been more firmly planted it would have just stopped him with a jolt instead of bending over. He said there were five police cars there, with all the cops standing around laughing and taking pictures – no one could believe it. His only injury was that when he released his seat belt his head hit a small piece of broken glass and bled a little – no stitches needed. Of course his food and pop went all over the inside of the car. Sometime after the initial shock he realized he was still hungry, so he went back into the Taco Bell and told them he wasn’t able to eat the meal he had just bought. They took pity on him and replaced all his food for free. I would love to have been there to check out the scene for myself, but he didn’t even call me until the tow truck had loaded the car on the bed, and he was ready to come home – something about putting off his imminent death for another couple hours. I think I’ll check out the restaurant’s security cameras to see if any are pointed toward that spot. I’m sure the video of that slow motion rollover could win me $10,000 in one of those TV contests. I wonder if Tom and Ray would be interested in the story.

5 mph rollover?? I don’t think sonny is telling you the whole story dad.
A rollover puts a lot of torque on a car… to the boneyard with the thing is my opinion.

Looks like I was closer than you were, Roadrunner. What do I win?

At 5 MPH, it seems like the pole still should have stopped him with a jolt instead of pitching the car over, even if it bended over when he hit it…unless he made contact with the pipe and then, rather than backing off the accelerator, he stomped on it instead. I mean, it seems like it would take a lot of force and he would have had to travel pretty far up that pole in order to flip the car. Weird. Very weird.

You win first dibs on a freshly rolled car. First offer over $6,000 takes it. Still lots of great parts left on it, and if you’re willing to fix the engine and put in a new windshield, you could have your own working junker in no time. The story that goes with it is just an extra bonus that you can share with your friends.

It happens, I’vs seen it.