This is my car ->(1990 Honda Accord EX Sedan 4 door 5 speed manual)

Ok this is the first time I have ever seen a leak from my car. I bought it in Primo condition & I only use it for errands around town. 2 days ago, I noticed white smoke or steam coming from under the hood I just happened to be near Auto Zone so I pulled in & asked one of the guys to come look as I was looking at the leak as well it was spot after spot into the driveway & a puddle of coolant. So I drove home & let her sit awhile before I checked the radiator & it was bone dry so instead of wasting my anti freeze I filled her up with H2O took a drive came back no leakage.

I Looked again this morning & the radiator is still full.. My question is what just happened to my car & why isn't the water leaking out now? I'm entertaining the idea of taking my car to a shop, because I don't know what to check for & I don't want to get ripped off. what should I do? Thanks folks, I hope you have some answers

  • Did you see exactly WHERE it was leaking from? Radiator, hose, overflow bottle, engine area? When you took if for a drive after refilling it, did the car get up to normal operating temperature? The coolant system can pressurize up to 16psi when the coolant is hot. What were the conditions before noticing the steam? Did it overheat? Were you on the highway, or sitting idling at lights?
    – rpmerf
    Aug 11, 2015 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


Your car overheated and the coolant leaked out of the overflow bottle. It happened a couple of times with my Opel Astra Coupe and my Subaru Forester too. If you're really lucky, nothing major is wrong with your car, but I'd advise a compression test just to be safe. The danger here is that BECAUSE the car overheated and all the coolant was lost, you may have a warped cylinder head that may cause a blown headgasket if it hasn't blown already.


I would go ahead and replace the radiator cap, it's a cheap fix (about $6 at Advance Auto) and is probably the culprit. The cap is also a relief valve that keeps the pressure at a certain level to raise the boiling point, but if it fails the cooling system can lose all that pressure out through the reserve tank.

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