28 January 2006

Double Trouble

Car Covered: 1934 Vauxhall BX roadster

What Went Wrong: My wife and I were out driving at a speed of about 40 mph when I heard a very loud “bang!” from the engine compartment. A loud, rumbling noise continued until we coasted to a stop and shut off the engine. When I looked under the hood, I noticed water shooting out of the radiator and a hole through the hood. It seemed that one of the four fan blades flew off, puncturing the radiator and putting a hole through the hood. I saw the blade back on the road and picked it up.

Damage: The hole in the hood needed repair, and the radiator and water pump needed replacing – in addition to a new fan. All four blades were cracked, as the fan was original. Unfortunately, the car was manufactured in Australia , so the water pump had to be special-ordered. Total cost of incident: $4,000.

Cause: Simply spinning at high speeds causes fan blades to distort. Over time, this movement can cause minute cracks in the blades or stress the rivets that attach the blades to the fan center.

Tips

Although a cooling fan failure is rare, for older cars, make sure to check any part that is original and comes under constant stress. Use a good light and check the fan twice a year to make sure the blades are secure and not cracked.

Most people pay a lot of attention to mechanical parts that tend to wear out, such as engines, transmissions, carburetors, linkages and shock absorbers. Routine maintenance and frequent inspections are essential to keep any vehicle – new or old – in top running order.

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