Thursday, September 23, 2010

Haunted Automobiles

Came home yesterday and pulled my car into the garage. Switched off the key and -- 

There came the sound of a small aircraft taxiing for take-off -- from under my car's hood.

Oh, my. Key is off, but something's definitely running. And not that old chudder-chudder dieseling I used to get in my old Chevrolet once it got warmed up.  

This can't be good, thought I.

Actually, it can. Apparently the Mini, as other "modern" cars, has an auto-feature that causes the coolant fan to keep going if things are too warm, kind of like in the convection oven we have. 

After a minute or two, the fan shuts off, and end of story. I dunno why yesterday would have been any different than any other day, but apparently the car must have thought so.

So, no problem -- except sometimes if a switch has gone bad, because something is apparently wired oddly in these critters, and so the little cooling fan might kick on and keep going until your battery dies. That would be bad. 

Fortunately, that wasn't the case here.

Learn something new every day.


Ed said...

Coolant levels ok? If low, fan might kick on if running hot.

Steve Perry said...

My first thought, and they seem to be. Could be a thermostat, but the gauge doesn't show the engine running hot.

jks9199 said...

If the battery dies... don't you just have to replace the gerbil inside? Or did you go for the premium guinea pig upgrade?

Steve Perry said...

Laugh, go ahead. I do, every time I think about that 40 mpg I get when I fill up the gas tank.

Yeah, it does kinda look like a giant baby's sneaker, but that's cute, not like the how-many-clowns-can-you-fit-into-it? Smart Cars that your granny could bench press without working up a sweat.

The big iron outruns me on the straights, but nobody passes me on a curvy road ...

steve-vh said...

My 80s BMW has a system check computer that runs diagnostics after the vehicle is shut off. It doesn't do so for 3-4 minutes. But if you are waiting say, for the kids at school and then the first time you start hearing whirring and chirping coming from 8 different places inside the dash sequentially?
Yeah, haunted came to mind. that and impending explosions.

Todd Erven said...

My Mini used to do that; weirded me out the first time. I don't like cars making decisions without my input.

Jason said...

Actually, assuming you have a turbo charged and not supercharged or normally aspirated Mini, that sounds like what is sometimes called a Turbo Timer.

Runs the car or the cooling system for a bit to keep oil/coolant (depends on the system) flowing through the turbo to avoid having it coke up from overheated oil.

Louie Alexakis said...

Jason has it right. I had a 1985 Saab 900 SPG turbo that always did that. In fact it had 2 different radiator fans, iirc. I actually loved the whine of the turbo kicking in :) and felt passing speed was as better than just about any car of its time.