Imagine yourself driving when suddenly your car starts to overheat leaving you no choice but to pull over making you stuck somewhere unfamiliar. An overheating car is one of the most dreaded problems you can experience while driving.
There’s plenty of outside factors that can increase the likelihood of your car overheating especially during summer. The rising outdoor temperature, the heat of the asphalt, and the heat generated by the engine can cause your car to overheat. Don’t let this car problem ruin any of your trips this summer. Spare yourself the hassle by following preventive measures as well as knowing what to do in any case that your car overheats.
Why Do Engines Overheat?
You might be wondering “why is my car overheating?” While many reasons can be identified, the most common is that there might be an issue within the car’s cooling system that won’t allow the heat to escape the engine compartment. This can be caused by any of these problems:
- Leak in the cooling system
When your cooling system leaks, the coolant might not be able to circulate properly. Without the proper amount of coolant, your engine could overheat or freeze in the winter months.
A leak can happen due to corrosion within the radiator when the tubes start to wear. Another reason is when a radiator cap is defective and can no longer create a pressurized tight seal thus allowing the coolant to escape. You can replace the radiator by purchasing a new one. There’s plenty of aftermarket radiator caps available like the crown radiator cap.
A coolant leak is easy to identify. You just have to check underneath the engine for any puddles forming when your car is parked. The check engine light might also display on your dashboard because a low coolant level can affect the engine’s temperature level, thus triggering it.
- Clogged Radiator
An old radiator fluid that hasn’t been serviced or flushed can cause clogging on the radiator and coolant hoses. A fluid that has never been changed or hasn’t been used for a longer period can bring deposit build-up like sediments and rust that can block the radiator pipes.
You can use a radiator flush solution to clean a clogged radiator. You can do this by placing a bucket below the radiator then filling all the tubes with the solution. Let the solution flow through the piping system to clean them thoroughly. Flush out the solution with water and rinse the interior pipes. The sediments will pour inside the bucket under the radiator.
- Broken Water Pump
The water pump is responsible for maintaining a consistent flow of coolant supply from the radiator to the engine. It makes sure that the engine is operating at a consistent temperature in any given weather condition. When a coolant is old, it loses its lubrication and anti-corrosive properties. The result can damage the water pump bearing and shaft.
A broken water pump should be diagnosed and replaced by a professional or someone with mechanical experience. You should get the replacement parts from a reputable source or aftermarket.
- Defective Thermostat
Your car’s thermostat regulates the amount of coolant flowing through the engine. A bad or failing thermostat can cause the temperature gauge to read high into the red. In some cases, erratic temperature changes can occur, causing spikes and drops leading to poor engine performance.
Replacing the thermostat is an inexpensive repair you can do to avoid shelling out a huge amount of money in repairing engine damage.
- Malfunctioning Radiator Fan
A malfunction on the radiator fan can stop the fan from providing a cool airflow through the car’s radiator. It won’t be able to cool down the heated water and coolant mixture through the radiator causing the engine to overheat. Most fan failures are caused by a broken fuse and faulty wiring.
You should test the radiator fan and motor to see if it’s working properly. Inspect all the wires and connectors as well. Correct troubleshooting and diagnosis can help you figure out which part needs replacing or repairing. A radiator fan replacement can cost between $300 to $700 including the labor cost.
There are easy to spot symptoms that serve as signs that your car engine is starting to overheat. These symptoms include the following:
- There can be steam that looks similar to smoke coming from under the car hood.
- The engine temperature gauge on the dashboard spiking to “H” or moving into the red area of the gauge.
- Strange smell coming from the front of the car, particularly in the engine area. A leaking coolant can smell sweet while a leaking oil produces a burnt smell.
Follow these steps if your car overheats while you’re on the road:
- Turn off the A/C and Turn on the Heater
Immediately turn off the A/C to lessen the stress on the engine. Turn the heater on full blast after. It enables to draw the heat away from the engine into the passenger compartment.
- Pull Over
Pullover to the side of the road to ensure your safety. You must turn off the engine to cool it down. Do not attempt to open the hood immediately to avoid scalding hot water or steam. Let your car cool off for at least 15 minutes and then check your car’s temperature gauge to see if it moves back to the normal level.
- Check and Add Coolant
Check the coolant level on your coolant overflow tank located next to the radiator. If the coolant is low, add coolant —half water, half antifreeze— to top it off until you can get proper diagnostics and repairs. Make sure that your engine has cooled down before opening the radiator cap. Refill the coolant on your reservoir tank or coolant bottle as well.
- Restart the Engine
If your car temperature gauge is back to normal and there’s sufficient fluid level on your engine, try to restart the engine. You can drive safely to the nearest repair shop to have proper diagnostics on your car. Be sure to keep an eye on the temperature gauge while driving and check for possible recurring symptoms too. If you’re unable to start the car, call a tow service to help you get to an auto repair shop.
How to prevent your car from overheating
Many of us are driving again daily and even traveling long distances this summer. There are preventive measures and easy overheating car fix you can follow to avoid road mishaps. Make sure that your car is ready to take the road in hot weather. Here is a list of the most common ways to prevent the risk of car overheating:
- Check your car’s coolant regularly
Make it a habit to check your coolant level a few times per year. This is to make sure that there are no leaks and your coolant and water levels are appropriate. Check the radiator cap if it’s sealed tight.
- Inspect your car for issues
Regularly check some car parts to see if there is noticeable wear or damage.
- Have periodic coolant flushing
Even if your coolant is on an appropriate level, you should get it replaced by flushing it out and filling up the system with a new coolant. Flushing out your old coolant can prevent deposit build-up that can cause clogging to your radiator.
- Schedule radiator and engine maintenance
A proper radiator and engine diagnostic by a professional mechanic can lower the risk of car overheating. This is necessary for identifying which parts have issues and need repair and replacement. There are aftermarket products dedicated to providing replacement parts for the engine cooling system like Crown automotive.
- Conduct regular car maintenance
It is highly recommended to consistently take regular car maintenance. Aside from checking the parts for possible overheating issues, you can also prevent other car-related hassles from happening.
Lower the risk of car overheating by making sure that your engine runs in peak condition. Immediately address any car engine issues to avoid expensive and time-consuming repairs. If you need new parts and accessories, you can find them at 4WheelOnline for the lowest price.