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We’ve all heard the horror stories of cars overheating on the highway, and we have all seen one or two pulled over with smoke billowing out from under the hood. An overheated engine is a scary thing, especially if it happens to you! So why do cars overheat and what can we do to prevent it from happening?

There are many things that can cause a vehicle to overheat. For starters, we in Arizona know exactly how extreme the summer temperatures can be, and our vehicles do as well. A big cause of overheating is environmental temperature, and while there isn’t much we can do about that, preventative maintenance on our cars can help minimize the damage as a result from excessive heat.

The principle reason for overheating, is a lack of circulation somewhere in the cooling system of a vehicle. A leak in the cooling system is one of the causes of overheating, although it is an indirect cause. When there is a leak, air enters the cooling system which leads to the formation of an air pocket that is too large to be pushed through the system. This causes a stop in the coolant circulation, which in turn causes the engine to overheat. If you notice your coolant leaking, or see your temperature gauge spiking, it is time to bring your vehicle in to an auto repair shop right away before your engine overheats and causes even further damage.

Another reason for a lack of engine coolant circulation is an obstruction somewhere in the cooling system. There are many things that could lead to an obstruction, such as a thermostat failing to open, an object entering the cooling system, or a mineral deposit blocking the radiator. Such an obstruction inhibits the coolant from circulating to the radiator, thus blocking the dispersion of heat, and boom: you have an overheated engine. If you are not able to remove the blockage yourself, which, let’s be honest, most people can’t, a trusty auto mechanic is more than capable of doing it for you.

One of the more common reasons of an overheated engine, is a water pump failure. The water pump is responsible for the circulation of the coolant, so if it is no longer in working condition, well then things are going to heat up rather quickly! Preventative maintenance of your vehicle can aid in monitoring the status of the water pump, and if anything starts to go south within the pump, a certified auto mechanic can fix it up for you before any problems arise.

Overheating is one of the top reasons for mechanical failure in a vehicle, so knowing the different causes and how to prevent them is key to maintaining the life of your vehicle. Despite taking preventative measures, overheating can still occur. If it does, bring your car in to our auto repair shop and we will perform a complete cooling system service for you and get you back on the road again.