Well last weekend I headed to the north of Italy to see some friends and family and I had three destinations in mind: Alba (where my lad lives), Omegna on Lake Maggiore (where he played an important basketball match) and then home via Milano to visit my little girl.
Well the journey north went very well. I stopped for one night in Orte (Hotel Lazio) to break the journey, Orte is only some 300 kilometres from Amalfi so I arrived fresh and ready for beers and dinner with a good friend. The old car was going great, cold and snow was forecast for the next day so I planned to be on the road fairly early to avoid the worst of the weekend traffic. I filled up with fuel ready for the next leg.
Well as usual I was awake well before the alarm rang and so I was on the motorway before 6am and the traffic was light and the weather cold but dry. Things became very cold on the Pennines between Firenze and Bologna as the motorway goes very high up and the temperature dropped to near zero and some snow fell, but nothing dramatic. Then from Modena (where the motorway returns to near sea level and becomes three lanes) I quickly proceeded up to Alba which is about 600km from Orte.
After lunch we left for Omegna which is only about 200km away, north again but still in the Piedmonte region and with some stunning views over Lake Maggiore. After the game and a pizza we headed back to Alba and the temperature was below zero when we arrived but as the humidity was low things were not too cold.
The next afternoon I headed south to Milan (Sesto San Giovanni, to be precise) and spent a lovely evening and then stayed the night, the next day I set off destination Roma which is about 600km due south. Progress was fast as the S4 is a fantastic motorway cruiser, I try to keep her below 3,000 revs as otherwise she becomes very thirsty and I like to run her in her most efficient rev range, on cruise control. I stopped as usual at Fidenze to eat at the wonderful KM90 and then continued south.
All went smoothly until I was some 100km from Orte where I usually leave the motorway to get fuel, when the car told me that the radiator water level was low. This suprised me as I always check the cooling level when I check the oil level before every long trip, but I thought ok I can get some ready-mixed coolant when I stop. Then the warning light came up again, and then stayed on, luckily the water temperature gauge stayed rock steady at 90 degrees so normal.
Well I stopped and found some coolant in a local shop and then opened the radiator expansion tank. The level was low, below the minimum, so I proceeded to add a litre of coolant. Strangely, the level rose and then with some strange noises went down again but I could not see any fluid under the car. Mmmm. So very confused I called my good mate Riccardo who lives nearby and drove very slowly round to his place. Here things became more interesting.
Riccardo topped up the tank from his tap, of course I asked him if his tap water was VAG approved and he reassured me it was good for all German cars!!! The water simply went straight through and then we found the excess water INSIDE the front bumper/spoiler!!! Hence the mystery was finally solved, so either the radiator or one of its tubes had perished and was simply dropping the water under the car.
Well long story short, I left the S4 with him and headed home by train. The car was trailered to an expert and he took the front end off to get to the radiator and found that the rad was totally rotten and that the rot had come from INSIDE the radiator. Er but….so perhaps the car had been filled with the wrong fluid, or the wrong mix, or….strange. So the car is still there and waiting for a new radiator to replace the old one and so I can hopefully collect her in a week ish.
Of course I sincerely hope that the engine has not suffered as this is an aluminium engine so the heads will warp if they overheat, fingers crossed!!! Watch this space.
Hey news. The rad has been swapped for a new one so time to go collect her!!!!! Yes.