A car pulled over the side of the road. A man fixing his car on the side of the road.
A vehicle overheating can be troublesome, especially if you are in a hurry. You will have to park your car on the side of the road and give it time to cool off before you can get to your destination. Summer season and traffic jams, in particular, can be very taxing for your car and you.
Prepare yourself and your vehicle for the hot weather by asking yourself what makes your car overheat. Here we outline eight possible reasons to help you identify the cause of your car overheating. But before we dive into those, here’s what you need to do the minute you see the temperature gauge shoot up to stop the car from overheating further as that can be dangerous.
- The first thing you need to do is turn off the air conditioner. Doing so is particularly important, especially if you are stuck in a traffic jam.
- Pro Tip – turn on your defroster and turn the heat on high. You are definitely going to feel more than the summer heat, but your car will cool down.
- Try to get coolant circulating. Put your vehicle gear to park or neutral and pump the gas pedal just a little. You are revving the engine up to encourage circulation to cool it down.
- If you are on the freeway or the highway, then put your car in the lowest gear and slow down your speed as much as you can. Search for a nice spot to pull over. You can open the hood of the car and let the engine air out. Don’t touch anything as it is bound to be really hot to the touch.
- It’s best if you can call a tow truck. If you can’t, then make sure the car cools down entirely before you restart it or the engine may seize.
If the vehicle begins to heat up again, you should stop driving and have it towed to a nearby mechanic to save the car from thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. You can save a lot of money by identifying what makes your car overheat, and here are eight possible problem areas you should look into.
1. Cooling System Leak
A small leak, when unidentified for long enough, can cost you a lot of money in just a few days. They are also often the main reason why your car may be overheating. Make sure you check for a leak in the coolant system, the radiator, the water pump, and thermostat. If you do find one, then get it checked and repaired immediately.
2. Low Coolant Concentration
If you stay on top of your regular vehicle maintenance routine, then your auto repair company probably makes sure that the vehicle has adequate coolant. If your car is overheating despite regular maintenance, then you should get the coolant checked.
Sometimes, the wrong coolant choice or an unbalanced mixture of coolant and distilled water can cause the car to overheat. An incorrect combination can also turn the coolant into a corrosive agent and substantially damage the vehicle’s parts.
3. Check the Radiator
Blockage, leakage, or damage to the radiator can hinder its functioning. Because it plays a central role in the cooling of the vehicle’s engine, a malfunctioning radiator often becomes the main reason for what makes your car overheat. Your radiator should be in optimal condition all the time, so do check on it from time to time.
4. Broken Thermostat
The thermostat is another central component in the coolant system. It is what detects the temperature and allows the coolant to pass through when the car starts to heat up. A broken thermostat means the coolant never makes it through, and the engine continues to burn without anything to help it cool down.
For the vehicle to operate optimally, the engine must not be allowed to overheat for elongated periods. It can cause severe damage to the vehicle and turn into a big problem.
5. Burst Hose
The hoses transport the coolant to the engine, allowing it to cool the vehicle down. However, if the hose is broken or damaged, the cooling agent never makes it to the engine. It leaks out and disrupts the vehicle’s coolant circulation system, causing the engine to overheat.
6. Broken Radiator Fan
The job of the radiator fan is to circulate air around the coolant to reduce its temperature so it can continue to cool down the engine. However, a broken fan cannot circulate air efficiently, allowing the coolant to heat up and renders it unable to cool the engine down.
7. Water Pump
The water pump operates as the heart of the coolant system. Much like the human heart pumps blood to the body, the water pump generates pressure to push the cooling agent through the coolant circulation system.
A broken pump fails to generate enough pressure for the coolant to reach the engine, which can cause the vehicle temperature to rise. Your vehicle’s pump can easily get damaged due to corrosion, so you should get it checked regularly.
8. Broken Belts
Broken or loose belts hinder the overall mechanism of the car. They can cause the vehicle to overheat in multiple ways. Not only can they create friction, which generates excess heat. A broken belt in the coolant system also renders the whole cooling system inefficient and overheats the vehicle.
Ideally, you should get your vehicle checked at the very first sign of it overheating. Do not wait for it to blow smoke out of the hood before you pay attention to your vehicle. You will have to be extra careful with your car’s maintenance if it is over five years old. Here are a few other tips you can use to prevent your vehicle from overheating.
Tips to Prevent Your Car from Overheating
- If your car is a little aged and has a history of heating up during summers, here’s what you can do to save it from burning up.
- Park your car in the shade and not under direct sunlight. It helps keep the engine at a moderate temperature, so your vehicle doesn’t have to work extra hard trying to cool it down as soon as you start it.
- Keep the window down, and the AC turned off. The engine has to work extra when you open the air conditioning, and many old vehicles struggle under the added pressure of having to cool the car down in intense heat.
- Keep an eye on the gauge. This should be practice for everyone as even new vehicles can overheat.
- Top up engine coolant as soon as the summer season begins. Doing so can save you from a lot of problems and costly repairs down the line.
- Have your radiator flushed and checked. A leak or a clog in the system is the most common reason why cars overheat. Getting it cleaned and adding new coolant keeps the car cool and helps maintain optimal running condition.
Here we have presented eight answers for what makes your car overheat and some tips to help you prevent it. Though engine overheating is a severe problem, it can easily be avoided as long as you stay on top of your maintenance schedule. Give your vehicle the love and attention it deserves, and it will never leave you stranded. Ignore its needs, and it turns into a burden on your wallet.