What to do When Your Car Overheats?

August 3rd, 2021
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Cars most often overheat in very hot weather. Problems with a vehicle’s cooling system can lead to a car overheating. When this happens, heat isn’t able to leave the car’s engine compartment like it normally would be able to do.

When your car overheats, it is a signal that there is a serious problem. If you don’t get the problem looked at right away, there may be permanent damage to your vehicle. 

Newer vehicles have more sophisticated systems than older vehicles. An overheating engine is less likely to happen with modern vehicles. If you drive a classic car or an older vehicle, you’ll want to know what to watch for if your engine is overheating. 

Common Signs of an Overheating Engine

  • The temperature gauge starting to climb to the H position or into the red zone is a very good indication that your engine is about to overheat. This should be one of the gauges you keep an eye on periodically while your vehicle is running. 
    The “check engine” or “temperature” warning light comes on.
  • Steam or smoke is coming from the hood of the vehicle.
  • The engine is typically one of the costliest repairs on your vehicle. Driving even a short distance can make a difference to the cost of your repair so take action as soon as you know something may be wrong.

Steps to Take if Your Car Overheats

  1. It may seem counterintuitive but turn the heater up to maximum and turn off the air conditioning. This will reduce the burden on the engine’s cooling system by drawing heat from the engine compartment. Open the windows of your vehicle. Hopefully, you will start to see the gauge dropping out of the red zone or H position. Continue to drive only until it is safe to pull over.
  2. Pull your car over when it is safe to do so. Turn the engine off and wait at least 15 minutes for the engine to cool down. It is very important that you do not try to pop the hood as there is a risk you could get sprayed with hot coolant, hot water, or steam. This is a good time to figure out how you’re going to get your car to an auto shop near you.
  3. When the engine has cooled down and it is safe to do so, open the hood and check the coolant level. The hood should be cool to the touch.
  4. Add coolant if the level is low. This is a  temporary fix until you can get your vehicle looked at by a professional technician. Locate the radiator cap and use a towel to slowly open it. Push down and turn a quarter of a turn to release some of the pressure. Then remove the cap. Add a mix of half water, half antifreeze slowly until it reaches the Full line. It’s also a good idea to add coolant to the small clear plastic overflow reservoir along the side. Replace the cap and turn on the engine.
    If the car temperature gauge is back to a normal position you can proceed cautiously. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge.
  5. If adding coolant eliminates the signs of overheating, and you can safely drive to an auto repair centre near you, do so. If you still see signs of overheating, it doesn’t feel safe to do so or if you’re not close to our Langley auto shop, you may need to get your vehicle towed. 
  6. Our auto repair shop in Langley will assess your engine to find out what caused your engine to overheat in the first place. Take notice of any sounds or smells if you drive over; that information can help your mechanic to diagnose the problem with the cooling system. 

The best way to prevent your vehicle from overheating in the first place is to perform regular maintenance and vehicle checks on your vehicle. Have regular coolant flushes and exchanges on your vehicle and stay up-to-date on radiator maintenance. Get any leaks in your vehicle looked at right away.

Contact us if you need to book an appointment or find yourself with an overheating engine and need to get your car towed to our Langley location. 

Photo by Mike from Pexels

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