Panicking is not in my nature, and I don’t run often, except when I see a photo-opportunity.
However, my L322 gave me cause to leg it recently – not for a camera, but a fire extinguisher – which has left me a tad paranoid when driving it since. I thought I detected an odd smell when I dropped my daughter off at the bus stop, but put it down to a smoker in the shelter. Fool be me.
Arriving home two miles later it had intensified, and when I opened the bonnet I was engulfed in a cloud of acrid black smoke accompanied by a burning rubber smell. I dashed for a fire extinguisher, but fortunately by my return the smoke was subsiding.
I thought something had seized and was cooking a drive belt; 24 bolts later, the bottom engine cover was off, but no pulley was particularly hot. After letting the engine cool, I got my other half to fire her up, but all looked fine.
Then I realised I was being sprayed by a fine mist of oil.
Removal of the front top cover revealed the problem– a small leak from the rubber vacuum supply pipe to the turbocharger had squirted a litre of hot oil into the radiator and fan, giving everything a bath.
With the flashpoint of engine oil at atmospheric pressure being over 200°C, it should not combust – but that was a theory I would not have wanted to test, with the lubricant in this atomised form on a long journey.
The cause was a loose crimped hose clip; I have never particularly liked this type of fixing so, after re-crimping it, I took a belt-and-braces approach and added a conventional jubilee clip next to it.
After powerwashing all the oil off the radiator, a nervous test drive ensued, with me stopping every mile to relieve my paranoia.
However, everthing seems fine. For now...