I have a question regarding my Dodge Omni When the...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a question regarding my 1988 Dodge Omni. When the weather is cold and damp or raining, my car seems to emit some kind of steam from under the hood. It starts after the car has been running for about ten minutes, comes through the front grill, and only seems to last a few minutes. I can't tell where it's coming from, because it usually happens when I am stopped at a traffic light, and by the time I can pull over to investigate, it stops. My fluid levels check out OK, but the problem is so noticable that people stopped next to me nearly go into apoplectic fits thinking I am overheating or my car is on fire. Is this something I should be concerned about? And what can I do to correct it?

TOM: As long as it's just steam, Sherri, it's not anything dangerous. My guess is that moisture is accumulating on your exhaust manifold while the car is parked.

RAY: The exhaust manifold is at the back of the engine, near the windshield. And there's a piece of weather stripping that's supposed to keep the water that rolls down the windshield from getting into the engine compartment. If your weather stripping is cracked or leaking, water can get in there and collect on the manifold.

TOM And after a few minutes of driving, the manifold gets very hot and the water starts to boil. It only takes a few minutes to boil away. But if you happen to stop at a light during those few minutes (and on a cold day, water vapor is easier to see), you see the steam wafting out the front grill.

RAY: Then the problem goes away until you park the car on a moist or rainy day, and give the moisture a chance to accumulate again.

TOM: Next time the forecast calls for rain, park the car outside your mechanic's shop overnight. Then bring him a cup of coffee the next morning, and stand there with him as the two of you watch the engine run for ten minutes. When the steam appears, he should be able to see exactly where it's is coming from.

RAY: And if our theory is correct, you can simply replace the weather stripping below the windshield.

TOM: Of leave it the way it is. This sounds like a great way to meet people at stop lights.
TOM: Hey folks, please don't send us any more "self addressed stamped envelopes" for personal replies.

RAY: Right. Since my brother and I are in the witness protection program, we have to be careful about how we communicate.

TOM: Actually, we're in the WIT-less protection program.

RAY: The truth is, we just don't have time to respond to your letters personally. We'll answer as many as we can here in the newspaper, so everybody can read them.

TOM: So keep reading...but put those extra stamps to better use! 525

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