Cars overheating are mostly a hot weather problem. Thanks to safety mechanisms in newer automobiles it is not nearly as much of a problem as it used to be, but it can still happen.
The most important sign to watch for before it actually overheats is the temperature gauge on your car rising, or the temperature light comes on.
Here is a list of things to do at the first sign of overheating:
If you see the temperature gauge climb or the light come on, immediately shut off the air conditioner and radio and open the windows. This will decrease demand on the engine and lessen the heat being generated.
- Strangely enough, if it keeps overheating, turn the car heater on and turn up the fan. This will redirect heat from the engine into the seating area of the car. You won’t feel any better, but your engine will.
- If you can, put the car into neutral or park and then rev the engine a little bit. This will help draw more liquid and air through the radiator, helping to cool it off.
- If things worsen, pull off on to the shoulder of the road (safely), and open the hood. Be careful when opening the hood because of excess steam, and under any circumstances do NOT try to open the radiator cap. This can be very dangerous and result in burns, and you also do NOT want to add water to the radiator when the engine is hot. It must cool down first.
Sometimes the cause of overheating is simply the weather. However, other problems can also cause a car to overheat, especially if it isn’t extremely hot outside. Here are some likely culprits:
- Low water and / or coolant level in the radiator
- Leak in the cooling system
- Malfunctioning thermostat
If you find your car overheating repeatedly or significantly, cooling it off may not be enough. At that point, we’d recommend having your car evaluated by a certified Auto Repair Technician.