How important is the overflow container on a vehicle? I was in an accident and the overflow container was destroyed. I am concerned that the car may overheat and cause damage to the engine. I intend on getting the car to the shop for the repairs next week. Please Advise.
The over flow container is also known as the expansion tank. When the engine heats up, the coolant expands causing an increase in pressure in the radiator. The pressure cap is calibrated to release pressure at about 15 PSI allowing the extra pressure and coolant to escape into the expansion tank (recovery tank). When the coolant cools down it contracts causing a drop in pressure in the radiator causing coolant to drain back into the radiator. The radiator will accept only what is needed and store the rest in the tank.
As long as you don't leak any coolant you can drive for awhile as long as you monitor the coolant level in the radiator. Always check the coolant level when the radiator is cool.
On some cars (depending on the year) the recovery tank is also where you would fill the radiator; it is also a pressure cap on the recovery tank.There would not be any radiator cap on this type depending on the year of the vehicle. It's the only way to fill this type of system. If this is the case then you need to repair or replace the tank as soon as possible because the leaking coolant will not be recovered and overheating and engine damage is possible.