Would you know what to do if your vehicle is overheating? Unfortunately, many people do not, but that’s exactly what we’re going to cover today.
While modern vehicles tend to have sophisticated cooling systems with heat sensors and computer-controlled fans to keep your engine running in all kinds of weather, it’s still possible for your vehicle to overheat. But being aware of common signs and symptoms and being prepared can help keep a bad situation from becoming even worse.
Why do cars overheat?
There are several reasons that a vehicle may overheat. Generally, it happens because there is a problem with your cooling system where it isn’t letting heat leave the engine compartment. It could be a leak or blockage in the cooling system itself or another related component. Overheating could also be due to a faulty or broken water pump or radiator fan, low oil, a faulty thermostat or a clogged coolant hose. These may not sound like the most important parts, but they sure can wreak havoc on your vehicle if they aren’t working properly.
What signs should you look for to know if your vehicle is overheating?
Every vehicle and situation can be different, but here are some common signs to watch for in order to know if your vehicle is overheating:
- Steam (or what looks like smoke) coming from under your hood.
- The temperature gauge for your engine (found on your dashboard) has increased to H or is moving into the red area of the gauge.
- Unusual smells from the front of the car, especially near or under the hood. Leaking coolant tends to have a sweet smell, but oil leaks are usually more of a “burnt” odor.
How can you prepare?
It doesn’t take much to be prepared. Keeping a few simple items in your trunk could be helpful if your vehicle is overheating. Think about having a kit with:
- Several quarts of oil
- A small tool kit with the handy basics
- 1 gallon of coolant (think 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water)
- A towel
- Heavy-duty gloves (think safety)
Your vehicle is overheating … What should you do now?
- Shut off the A/C and open the windows instead.
- If your vehicle continues to overheat, turn on the heater and blower as high as they will go. Yes, we know that it may be hot.
- If you’re not driving at the moment, put the vehicle into neutral or park and rev the engine a little bit so that it will circulate fluids and air through your radiator.
- Avoid frequent braking which puts extra stress on the engine. Use the gas pedal and brake only when absolutely necessary.
- If you’re driving and your view is being obstructed by steam or smoke, carefully pull over in a safe area, turn off your vehicle, lift the hood and let the engine cool off for a while. Never touch the engine! It will be too hot and too unsafe. You may need to have your vehicle towed to a repair shop so that it can be inspected and repaired by a certified automotive technician .
We know how much you rely on your vehicle. You need it to be safe and you need it to be reliable. Ensuring that you’re getting preventative maintenance services when they are recommended is essential in preventing overheating. While we cannot guarantee that it would never happen, knowing what to watch for and what to do can help prevent a more serious situation. Give us a call to schedule your next appointment and let’s take a look!