Why Do Cars Overheat? – And what you can do to protect it


Modern-day cars are equipped with a sophisticated cooling system that has multiple heat sensors and a computer-controlled electric fan. It is designed to keep the engine running in every weather. However, overheating can still happen. Let’s learn about the causes of overheating and how to avoid them.

What Causes Cars To Overheat?

Car engine overheating

There could be any reason why your car is overheating. If your car’s cooling system doesn’t let the heat leave the engine compartment, it is time to get a car air conditioning repair.

A few components like rubber hoses, water pumps, and gaskets can get damaged with time. This damage can lead to a leak. However, a lot of this also depends on certain driving conditions like putting stress on the cooling system or stop-and-go traffic on a hot day.

These problems can be easily avoided by visiting a skilled mechanic. They will examine the coolant and oil; level and also inspect another component that may or may not be affected.

Signs of an Overheating Engine

There can be various reasons why your car overheats. But, you need to understand the situation and the signs behind that. Here are a few signs that might help you understand that your car is overheating!

1. Steam coming out of the vehicle under the hood.

2. The engine temperature gauge spiking to ‘H.’

3. Weird and strange smell in the front of the car.

What Should You Do When Your Car Overheats?

After learning about the cause and sign of an overheating car, it is now time to understand what one should do in such situations. Some of the common and easy ways to deal with engine overheat are:

1. Switch off the car air conditioner: 

Switch off aircon

As soon as your car starts to overheat, switch off the air conditioner. This reduces the stress on the engine.

After this, turn the dial to the maximum heat. It will keep the engine away from overheating.

This may make the inside of the car hot, but the small move can surely help you save a lot on heavy engine repairs. 

2. Stop your car in a safe place:

Find a safe place and shut off the car completely. Let it cool down for at least 15 minutes before you start driving again. Make sure to monitor the temperature gauge as it should come back to the normal level. 

3. Check the coolant level:

Monitor the coolant level and top-off to prevent the engine from overheating. However, this step will be useless if the coolant hose is clogged or the radiator fan is broken. Consulting a mechanic will be a smart move to deal with this situation.

4. Restart the engine:

If you do not have the facility of getting your car towed to the nearest repair station, carefully start the engine and drive. Monitor the temperature gauge while you are driving. If it rises again, pulls over and let it cool down.

What Not To Do When Your Engine Overheats?

Opening coolant cap

There are various things that you should not do to worsen the situation.

1. Driving:

When your engine has overheated, avoid driving. Find a safe spot and pull over. Driving in such a condition can be quite dangerous. This will also cost you a lot if the engine is completely ruined.

2. Do not open the hood immediately:

While your engine is overheated, wait for some time before you pop the hood to check things out. This can cause injuries from the steam spewing from the engine. Wait for the temperature to come down before you open it.

3. Do not ignore the problem:

Engine overheat is a dangerous issue that needs to be immediately resolved by a skilled mechanic. Do not ignore it as it can worsen the situation. Consult the service station nearby for car air conditioning repair service.

Tips to Prevent Car Overheating

Just like you, your car too hates summer heat. The temperature rise can cause damage to your car and also threaten your safety. Here are the important tips that will help you from overheating your car.

1. Park in the shade: 

Car parked in shade

Your car, too, can sense the temperature difference like you when parked in a shaded area.

This helps in keeping your car cool as well as increase its life. In case there are no shaded spots, use the sunshade to avoid the heat entering your car.

2. Use window shades:

One of the most useful accessories, window shades are a savior when it comes to keeping your car cool. These shades are placed on the glass area to avoid heat entering inside the car.

3. Leave your windows open slightly: 

Car window open

When you close all the windows, it traps the hot air inside. Leaving the windows slightly open can help in maintaining the temperature.

If your vehicle has a sunroof, crack that open too. This will create cross-ventilation and reduce the temperature immediately.

4. Turn on the floor air vents:

A lot of people get in the car and turn the vents on high to get the air flowing quicker. But you are better without it. Switch on the bottom vent to let the hot air rise and get out of the car. Once the car starts cooling, you can open the upper vent again.

5. Monitor the temperature gauge: 

Car temperature gauge

Make sure that the needle in the dashboard is towards the center. If it points toward hot, pull over and let your car cool down.

Bottom Line

Keeping up with your car’s cooling system is really important. To increase its life, get car air conditioning service repair from the nearby mechanic. Ignoring engine overheating can cause you a lot of expense. Follow the mentioned tips to avoid such problems and have safer driving. In case of an emergency, look for a local car repair shop!

You may find these posts useful also:

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What to do when car overheats and shuts down?

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of classic car ownership, from tires to roof aerials and everything in between.

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