Car question for anyone mechanical...

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bob Movies, Nov 14, 2002.

  1. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Everyone,

    I don't know much about cars, and I've never owned one... I'm wondering what you could do to a car that would make it break down, and make smoke pour out of the hood. I'm working on a short film right now and there needs to be a believable way for one character to disable a getaway car. Right now, the character cuts the fan belt and the car starts to smoke a few minutes after the getaway. It's a comedy, so it doesn't need to be a 100% legitimate solution (i.e. the smoke can be exaggerated, just breaking the car would be enough) but the more realistic it is, the better it will look in the film.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    Put sugar in the gas tank. Works every time.
     
  3. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    I've heard of that one before, but unfortunately the character doesn't have any sugar on him!

    What I'm looking for is something that could quickly be removed or cut under a car's hood that would immobilize it pretty quickly.
     
  4. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    A hose that connects to the radiator??? All the coolant would run out and I think the engine would sieze up. It might take a few miles for it to happen, though.

    I'm not a car expert, but I don't play one on TV.
     
  5. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Of course, if you remove enough coolant through an automated valve you can remotely activate, you'd get steam, (at least at first) which might not really be the effect as "smoke."
    Can't you find a props place and get a smoke bomb?
    ...or buy a yugo! it's bound to blow up sooner or later.. [​IMG]
    Another idea... you can also put say diesel in a gasoline powered car, might cause smoke and sputtering and eventually die..
    Jay
     
  6. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer

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    Cut the radiator hose. A few minutes of driving with a damaged radiator hose can make can make the engine overheat with steam coming out from under the hood, it happened to my car a couple of months ago.
     
  7. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    We should note that many of these suggestions will do actual expensive damage to the car in question. Be warned.
     
  8. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    If you're looking for a realistic "action" and not something you'll actually do to a real car, draining the oil is a pretty solid way to do it. Car will probably run about 3/4 mile or so and then the engine will seize and smoke.

    Showing the character either puncturing the oil filter or an oil line should do it.
     
  9. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    Hmmmm...You could always pour a little oil onto the exhaust headers. That should get it smoking once it heats up. Spraying some WD-40 on the headers might get some smoke as well, but probably no enough.

    DON'T SET THE CAR ON FIRE.
     
  10. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    I vote for the radiator hose idea... just be carefull the car is not hot when you cut the hose. YEOWCH!
     
  11. DaveHo

    DaveHo Supporting Actor

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    Cutting the fan belt will work. That will cause the water pump to not function(most cars), resulting in a nice steam/smoke show when the engine overheats. If you drive it long enough the engine should seize resulting in a nice bang I'm sure. You could fry the automatic transmission as well if it uses the radiator to cool the trans fluid.

    Carburated car? With the engine running pour some trans fluid down the carb till it stalls. Stop once it stalls. Let it sit for a few minutes, and you will get a very nice smoke show out the exhaust upon starting it and for quite a few miles. This will not harm the engine. Actually it'll do a pretty good job or removing carbon deposits in the combustion chambers.

    Trans fluid on the exhaust manifolds will also give a nice smoke show. Could catch fire though.

    Want to completely disable it? Yank the spark plug wires.

    Put pebbles under the value stem caps. Size them properly so that the air doesn't leak out too quickly, but will result in flat tires after a few miles.

    Carburated car? Cut the fuel line near the gas tank. It'll run for a bit until the fuel pump sucks the line dry. Fuel injected? Pulling the fuel pump fuse will result in the same as above.

    -Dave
     
  12. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    If you don't want to disable the car outright, maybe a smoke, steam, or dry ice block under the hood that can be triggered by the driver or by remote during filming. The driver can simulate the car "breaking down" easily enough by just turning off the key and letting it roll to a stop after activating the smoke/steam. Then no harm is done to the car and it can be driven off, or the scene can even be reshot with the same car.

    I always wondered in movies when a car gets destroyed or disabled, if they actually destroy or disable a real car, or if they just use models and/or special effects. I guess it depends on the desired effect, and if they can afford to destroy a car (multiple times for multiple takes).

    Oh, and a simple way to get "overheating" with steam? Just loosen the radiator cap.

    KJP
     
  13. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow! Thanks everyone for your great replies!

    Just to clarify, this is for a scene in a film, so we won't actually be damaging the car. The smoke will come from a smoke machine fitted inside the hood, and the car won't actually be ruined/hot/dangerous.

    I just wanted to have a convincing scene prior to the car breakdown to show what malicious act caused it.

    I've never seen an overheating car / engine. Is the smoke thick and white, or is it more like steam from a kettle? Or does it vary depending on what you've done to the car?

    Bob
     
  14. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I think it's more of a steam, not a thick opague kind of white. At least thats what it was the couple of times I've been in an overheating car. I've never let it run longer to see what kind of smoke is gonna come out though, it's typically not the first thing that comes to mind when I see the temp guage going to H. [​IMG]
    I would imagine that burning stuff on the manifolds can produce thicker more colorful smoke but again, it could also catch on fire so be very very careful..
    Jay
     

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