Q: Was driving. Battery light came on, steering wheel locked up. Car was still driving. Coolant wont stay. Little bit of white smoke

asked by on October 27, 2017

As i was driving my car the battery light came on, then the steering wheel locked up as if it had no power steering. Car was still driving though. The coolant light then came on. I put coolant but it wouldnt stay in. It started having a little bit of white smoke coming from inside the hood. I put oil and everything. Temp looked like it was on its way to running hot. Stopped at 80. What could this be? I hope the engine isnt blown.
My car has an automatic transmission.

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It sounds like the vehicle may be overheating. Overheating can be caused by a number of things such as low coolant levels, a faulty thermostat, a clogged radiator or a failing coolant fan switch. As you may know the coolant fan switch helps to maintain the proper coolant temperature by turning on and off at specific temperature thresholds. When this switch is not working properly, this can cause the fans to come on intermittently, all the time or sometimes not at all. When this happens you will notice a temperature spike and drop occasionally as the fan comes on and off. When your thermostat is not working properly or is stuck closed, this will not allow the coolant to properly circulate through the engine, which may cause the engine temperature to fluctuate erratically or in some cases just remain hot. You may also have a water pump that is beginning to fail. Water pumps often times will begin to produce a bit of a whining sound when they are starting to fail. A common problem also associated with this is the water pump may begin to leak around the water pump shaft due to the seal being damaged. In addition to leaking around the pump, you may have a leak elsewhere in the cooling system coming from one of the hoses going to or from the radiator. Lastly, you may have a failing cylinder head gasket allowing coolant to leak from the water passages into the cylinders resulting in the coolant being burnt in the combustion chamber with the fuel. If this is the case, you may also notice a bit of white smoke coming from your exhaust which is a product of the coolant being turned into a steam like vapor. I would suggest having an expert from Your Mechanic come to your home to diagnose your cooling system as there are a variety of tests to perform to arrive at the correct diagnosis.

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