So I was proceeding in a northerly direction on the lovely strip mall lined streets of scenic Route 1 in Saugus Massachusetts (home of Hill Top Steak house and Big Al's House of Unbelievably Useless Crap) when I chanced to notice that all the traffic behind me had disappeared. As had the road, the sky, the trees, the potholes, the litter, the fiberglass cows (don't ask) and everything else normally visible. They were enveloped in a smoke screen of quite impressive proportions that was blanketing the landscape. I glanced at the dashboard and all seemed fine. I looked up and all I could see in the mirrors were enormous creamy white billows. I checked my economy sized insect fogger only to find it holstered. Could it be my patented castor oil injector system gone haywire? Nope, not that either. I knew that the Batscreen was out of Batgas... so that leaves... lessee... ummm.... well.... geee.... I looked down at the dash and now every single light was dutifully lit. Oh yeah, head gasket.
I discovered the nice thing about laying out a blinding fog behind you is that everyone backs off so you can quickly pull off the road unencumbered. I had the motor running for about 20 seconds from the time I first noticed the 'event' until I was safely parked and shut down.
So I open the hood and let the smoke subside. No flames. Good. Full oil. Good. And, oh my, quelle surprise! No coolant. Not good. Look at oil cap. Pure earl. Good. Coolant all over engine compartment. Good.
Good? Did I say good? Well, most people don't define good as having just drained the cooling system of your car, particularly an S14 but I'm feeling pretty optimistic today so what the heck. I think that there may even be a chance that my head is intact (stop snickering back there!) and I simply ruptured a heater hose. I couldn't tell what was leaking in the engine compartment as it was raining (because even God loves a good practical joke) but whatever it was left a good sized puddle on the ground under the engine. Also, the exhaust tips were dry so I think the smoke screen came directly from the glycol hitting the exhaust. The radiator hoses are new as is the water pump. So I got that going for me. Now if I could just impact a wisdom tooth, I'd really have something.
So the car is now at BMW of Peabody and, although they said it would be three days before they could even look at it, as of the Boston BMWCCA chapter meeting tonight it was safely ensconced in one of their meticulous repair bays. I'm just thankful that it's in good hands.
In retrospect, I did have the singularly nifty opportunity of watching the temperature gauge go from happily mid range to slammed dead red in a matter of seconds. Sometimes ya gotta dig deep for the fun, but it's there if you know where to look. But then again, the Geo Metro (LS!) that I rented is sure doing a lot to alleviate the stress.
And so we shall see what the future brings, be it a new head, some ruptured heater hose or perhaps a rebuilt S14. Who can tell? Not I, but I'll tell ya, after a couple sessions in that mighty Metro, I'm so relaxed and fulfilled that I don't even care.
Just thought I'd share.