6 Causes of Overheated Car Engines and How to Overcome It

There are many factors why your car engine is overheating. But in general this case occurs due to a problem with the vehicle’s cooling system that fails to remove heat from the engine compartment.

This is often caused by a leak or blockage in the engine cooling system drain or other component.

Components such as rubber hoses, gaskets, and pumps can leak due to wear and tear, certain driving conditions, traffic jams on a hot day, or significant stress on the cooling system. This causes the cooling system to fail. Fortunately, you can avoid this problem with regular maintenance at a certified repair shop.

There are some general signs you should look out for when your car’s engine starts to heat up:

  • Steam (looks like smoke) comes out of the front of the vehicle under the hood.
  • Strange smell coming from the front of the car, especially near the hood. Coolant leaks will often have a sweet burning smell, while oil leaks will usually produce a burning smell.

So that you are ready to deal with this condition, you must prepare some things in the vehicle if your car engine overheats. These include coolant, towels, and heavy duty gloves.

There are various reasons why a vehicle’s engine can overheat. Below are common factors that can cause a car to overheat:

1. Too Little or Run Out of Coolant

Driving without the proper coolant volume can cause the cooling system to fail. If the coolant level is lower than the manufacturer’s recommendation, refill or increase the level with new coolant.

2. Cooling System Leak

An empty coolant reservoir tank can be caused by a leak. Coolant leaks can often be identified by spots or puddles on the ground.

You will also find a sweet smell with a green, blue or orange liquid depending on the type of coolant used.

3. Cooling Pump Faulty

The purpose of the coolant pump is to circulate the coolant throughout the engine. If coolant is dirty or builds up too much, coolant may stop moving through the pump, which can lead to an overheat situation. Replace or clean a faulty coolant pump.

4. Radiator Problem

The radiator and fan help to dissipate heat from the engine by lowering the coolant temperature. Damage in the fan can reduce the radiator’s ability to dissipate heat, which will cause an unnatural temperature increase. Replace the radiator if you find it has run out of service

5. Too Little Oil

In addition to lubricating engine parts, vehicle oil also helps control overall temperature. A low oil level can increase engine temperature. Therefore, always check your oil level and add it if you find it has decreased.

6. Cooling Hose Leaking

This component serves its purpose to maintain the flow of air and coolant to and from the engine. If the coolant hose is leaking, clogged, or broken, or if the belt is worn or torn, then the associated system will cause overheating and unexpected engine damage. Replace this cooling hose if it is damaged.

How to Overcome Overheating

Here are the steps you should take if you find your car is overheating:

  • Pull Over

If your car overheats while driving, the most appropriate step to take is to pull over and turn off the engine. This is the safest way to cool the engine. If possible you can call the nearest repair shop or you may need a crane.

  • Wait Until the Heat Subsides

It takes at least 15 minutes to cool the engine. Meanwhile, do not try to open the hood of a car that is overheating because the heat inside the engine is very high and could potentially harm you.

You may be exposed to hot water or steam. Your safety is the most important thing. Waiting at least 15 minutes can cool the hood, engine, and leaking coolant.

  • Add Coolant

When you have waited at least 15 minutes and the hood is cool to the touch, use gloves to open the hood, and gently remove the radiator cap with a towel and loosen it.

This is intended to release the pressure formed by the coolant which expands when it overheats. Then open the radiator cap completely and slowly add the coolant to the water mixture at a 50:50 compositions.

  • Go to the Nearest Repair Shop

Adding coolant will not completely solve the main problem causing your engine to overheat. But it’s pretty helpful at least until you can drive safely to the nearest repair shop.

A professional need to check your car’s cooling system. While driving, pay attention to the temperature gauge and steam under the hood.

Tips to Prevent Car from Overheating

  • Check your vehicle’s coolant level consistently especially in hot months
  • Have an extra bottle of coolant and enough water in your luggage
  • Monitor your car thermometer while you are driving
  • Don’t use the car air conditioner too often on a very hot day
  • Park your car in the shade
  • Use car window covers
  • Tint your windows
  • Leave the car window open slightly. Closed windows trap hot air, and glass acts as a conductor that helps heat the enclosed space. Leave your windows open slightly to let air in.
  • Consider replacing your car battery. If your car battery is older than three years your car has to work harder and can overheat.