Slow is steady, and safer especially when attending to vehicle engine radiators, as a local TikTok video has demonstrated. Here, it appears that a car was in need of attention and presumably stranded, with its driver attempting to undo the car’s radiator cap. The ominous clue is the cloth in hand, as it would mean the radiator cap is too hot to touch.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, removing the radiator cap before the car’s engine has cooled down is a very bad idea. A car’s cooling system is pressurised when in operation, because pressurising the fluid in the radiator, be it plain water or coolant, raises the boiling point.

A higher boiling point means there is more ‘headroom’ before the fluid boils and turns to vapour, and coolant cannot transfer heat in this state as effectively as in its liquid form, thus leading to the engine overheating. When the coolant is pressurised and able to circulate at higher temperatures, this heat is transferred from other areas around the engine to the radiator where it is dissipated, which is its main purpose.

Hot fluids under pressure sounds dangerous because it is, and as the video eventually shows, both persons in the vicinity of the car have to duck for cover when the still-pressurised radiator cap is opened and gives way to a spray of hot liquid. At this point, we don’t know if any injury resulted, and can only hope for a best-case near miss.

Even if one is in a hurry – most of us are, in these situations – do not attempt to cool the engine in a hurry by dousing it in water, either, as the drastic temperature drop will cause hot components to warp, crack or break. Airflow is the best for safe cooling, and where available, fans can be used, as one might before washing.

So, the next time there is reason to undo the radiator cap on your car, give it time to ensure the engine has properly cooled down before attempting to do so.

@anissa.johan

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