What to Do When Your Car Overheats

If you’re like most people, you rely on your car to get you places daily. The Brookings Institute reports that 76% of Americans drive alone to work. For most people, their car is essential to their livelihood. 

That’s why it’s such a big deal when your car overheats. As warmer weather approaches, you are more likely to have an overheated vehicle. 

The question is, what do you do when your car overheats? How can you keep yourself safe and practice efficient car maintenance? The last thing you will want to do is junk your car because of your own negligence.

Below, we explore what to do when your vehicle overheats. That way you will be prepared should this incident happen to you.

What Causes an Overheating Car?

Vehicle engines can overheat for several reasons. Typically, it has something to do with a problem in your cooling system.

Your car’s engine uses combustion for power. Because of this, your engine naturally reaches high temperatures. That’s where your cooling system comes in. It uses coolant fluid to ensure the engine doesn’t overheat while it runs. 

This intricate system is the reason your car can function correctly. However, several problems could cause it to function improperly. Some of those issues include:

  • Cooling system leaks
  • Faulty radiator fans
  • Broken water pumps
  • Clogged coolant hoses

Whatever your system’s problems are you don’t want them to linger. An overheated vehicle could result in severe, possibly permanent, damage to your engine. 

Signs of an Overheating Car

Overheated cars rarely show up out of the blue. Usually, several signs indicate your car is on the verge of overheating. If you catch them quickly enough, you might be able to stop your vehicle from overheating with some maintenance. 

First, you may notice steam coming from under your hood. Sometimes, this steam looks like smoke.

Cars also have gauges that record your engine temperature, but different models vary in how they represent your temperature.

Some models have an H that stands for “hot” on one end of the gauge. Others may have a red zone on one side and a blue zone on the other.

When your gauge slips heavily towards the H, your vehicle is close to overheating. The same holds if your gauge moves deep into the red zone. 

Finally, you may notice a sweet smell wafting from the engine. This smell often indicates that there’s coolant leaking from your cooling system.

Once you notice your car is overheating, contact your nearest repair shop immediately. After doing so, follow these steps. 

Cut Off Your AC and Turn Up the Heat

The first thing to do is to cut your air conditioner off immediately. Maintaining cool air in your vehicle puts stress on your engine. The more stress your engine faces, the hotter it gets. 

So, cut off the AC to reduce that engine stress. Then, turn your heat to its maximum setting. Turning on the heat can pull heat away from your engine. 

This step can help you buy time until you reach a safe parking location. It may get uncomfortable in your vehicle but try to bear with it. This momentary discomfort is much more bearable than the cost of severe engine repairs

If necessary, try cracking your windows to let some of the heat out of your vehicle. Doing this can help you avoid getting overheated yourself.

Find a Spot to Pull Over

The next step is to find a spot to pull over. Ideally, look for a parking lot where you can park safely. If this isn’t possible, look for a turning lane or a lane shoulder. 

Once you’ve pulled over, turn off your vehicle. Wait for at least 15 minutes before you restart the engine. 

During this time, keep an eye on your temperature gauge. It should move back to a standard level as your engine cools. 

While you wait, figure out how you can get your overheated engine checked. Maybe you have a car-savvy friend who can check it for you.

If your gauge doesn’t return to normal, it’s best to call a tow truck immediately. You may also find a roadside assistance service that can tow your vehicle to the repairs store. 

Check and Add Coolant

It’s always a good idea to carry coolant in your vehicle during the summer. As we’ve mentioned, cars often overheat because of problems like coolant leaks. 

So, carrying coolant can help you top off the fluid levels until you can get your vehicle to a repair shop. Consult your car’s manual to find where your automobile’s coolant tank is and how to add fluid to it.

However, adding coolant isn’t a guaranteed fix. The problem could stem from clogged coolant hoses or other factors in your coolant system. 

Restart Your Engine

You may not have to tow your car when it overheats. If so, wait until your fifteen minutes end and carefully start your vehicle. Once your automobile starts, drive to the best auto repair store to fix the problem. 

As you drive, monitor your temperature gauge. If you notice it rising again, pull over and wait for your engine to cool again.

What if Your Car Overheats and Cannot Be Fixed?

Sometimes, a car’s engine becomes too severely damaged from overheating. When that happens, repairs may cost much more than they’re worth.

What can you do if your car overheats, and nobody can fix it? We suggest you bring it to us.

We buy junk cars for a fair price and break them down for recycling purposes. We also provide towing services to pick up a vehicle from wherever it is. 

So, check out what areas we serve. If you live nearby, contact us today to earn money for your next vehicle.