What To Do When Your Car Starts To Overheat

It’s summer and it is getting HOT out there. Vehicle and engine overheating is common and when it happens, you need to do something about it RIGHT AWAY.

As soon as your engine starts overheating, there are a couple steps you need to take immediately to minimize potential damage.

Immediately turn off the A/C, turn on the defroster with your heat to HOT and fan on high. This can help prevent thousands of dollars of damage! Turning on the heater may feel uncomfortable in the heat of summer, but this will help pull as much heat out of your engine as it can. Roll down the windows to help you stay comfortable.

Pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine. If you’re stuck in traffic, put your car in neutral or park and raise the engine speed by pressing on the gas pedal. You want to raise the RPM’s to about 2000-ish. By raising the engine speed, you’re trying to get the engine circulating as much as coolant possible.

Get off the road ASAP and call for help. Don’t even think about touching the radiator cap while you’re waiting for a tow truck. This can release a geyser of hot coolant that can do a lot of damage – and hurt a lot!

If you don’t have roadside assistance available to you – be patient! It can take at least 15 minutes for the engine to cool. Don’t open the hood until at least 15 minutes have passed. Once the hood is cool to the touch, open the hood, locate the radiator cap, and add coolant. If the temperature gauge goes back to normal, you can begin to drive again. Proceed with caution and make sure to get your car to a mechanic asap.

You can usually avoid engine overheating with regular maintenance by a certified mechanic. Make sure to have your car’s coolant levels, oil levels, hoses, fans, and thermostat checked regularly. Here are some common reasons your car’s cooling system may begin to fail:

  • Improper coolant circulation. The engine may start to overheat if the water/antifreeze mixture isn’t circulating correctly. Even if you don’t have any leaks, coolant can evaporate over time. You can add about half a cup of water to a low antifreeze tank to cool your engine down enough to make it to an autoshop.
  • Leaks: If your water/antifreeze levels are regularly low despite filling them up, there may be a leak in your cooling system. If this is happening to you, make an appointment with us ASAP. We’ll track down the leak and get you an estimate for repair.
  • A faulty hose. If one of the hoses that circulate coolant becomes blocked or detached, it can prevent the proper amount of coolant from circulating. This is another system error that we would be able to detect and fix in our shop ahead of time.
  • Improper coolant concentration. You want to make sure you use the correct type of coolant in your vehicle. The wrong mixture of coolant and distilled water can cause your vehicle to overheat.

Other causes of engine overheating can include a bad thermostat, a bad radiator, a bad radiator fan, a bad water pump, or loose/broken belts.

An overheating vehicle is a sign that needs immediate attention. In most cases the original cause is a simple, low-cost repair. Unfortunately, most people ignore the initial problem and end up paying much more for extensive damage as a result.

If your vehicle is showing signs of overheating, be sure to give us a call today and we’ll be happy to test and assess the vehicle, provide the proper service and repairs and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.