Machines, however complex, are susceptible to weather conditions. The engine of your car is no exception. It has an optimum temperature range where it runs effectively. Exposing it to temperatures out of this range, such as extremely high heat, damages it as well as the car.
Overheating is a typical cause of car breakdown. Towing your car into an auto repair shop due to an overheated engine while on an outing with family or friends is an unpleasant situation you don’t want to experience.
Below we look at some ways of preventing overheating in your car.
How do you know if your car is overheating?
The bright side of most car problems, including overheating is that you can catch them early on and prevent them from getting worse. All you have to do is watch out for the telltale signs of the problem. Be on the lookout of the following:
- The warning indicator showing light in the form of a thermometer with two wavy lines or the temperature gauge pointing towards hot. Take note that some cars lack the temperature gauge and instead have a digital variation of the same.
- A distinct ‘hot but not burning’ smell in the cabin is a telltale sign of a hot engine.
- Steam rising from the bonnet is a sure sign that your engine is overheating.
- A ticking sound is a result of the engine becoming overheated and causing the oil to be thin.
- A hood that's too hot to touch for more than a few seconds could also mean your car is overheating.
If you experience these signs, you should be more careful on the road. Some of the causes of overheating in cars include:
- A malfunctioning cooling system which can be caused by a leak, blockage, or pump failure
- A broken or faulty thermostat that can no longer efficiently monitor the amount of coolant flowing in the engine
- Low oil levels which mean that the oil can’t efficiently drive away excess heat in the engine
- Insufficient flow of cold air due to a malfunctioning radiator fan
Of course, these are not the only causes of car overheating. If you are suspicious that your car is overheating have it checked at an auto repair shop as early as possible.
Not only does an overheating engine cause damage to other car components, but it can also compromise your safety. To prevent overheating, here are some precautionary measures you can take.
1. Park your car under a shade, especially in hot conditions, which not only gives the car a chance to cool but can also lengthen its lifetime.
Parking your car directly in the sun will make the car temperature rise above the optimum range of operation for some components and systems, including the engine.
2. Make use of car window shades or windshield sun shades.
Whenever you can't find a shaded parking spot, car sun shades are your fallback option to prevent UV rays from getting into your car's interior.
You can also consider getting custom sun shades that fit your car to more effectively keep out the sun’s rays.
3. Tint your car windows.
A tint film on your car window goes a long way in keeping the interior of your car cooler. The film also protects interior parts of your car from damage caused by UV rays.
4. Keep the windows slightly open.
Leaving your car windows closed all the time traps hot air inside the car. Therefore, you should keep the windows open at times to let some of the air escape. You can do the same for your sunroof if your car has one.
5. Use the floor vent.
Redirecting trapped air through the floor vents will help keep your car's temperature down. You can set your blower to the maximum range and let the bottom vents drive out the air. When your vehicle has cooled down, you can then revert to the upper vents.
6. Don’t turn on the air conditioner when temperatures are high.
Although this sounds counter intuitive, it is better to leave your air conditioner off when the temperature is high because turning the air conditioner on adds to the load of the engine, causing it to become hotter.
The coolant will also get hot and be unable to dissipate heat which will eventually make the car overheat.
7. Regularly check the temperature gauge.
Most drivers only check the fuel gauge when driving. Well, the temperature gauge is just as important, and you should always keep an eye on it. It sits on the dashboard for most cars and points towards the centre in normal conditions. If the engine becomes too hot, it will point towards hot to indicate that it’s time to let your car cool down.
8. Check on the engine coolant levels.
To check the coolant level, open your car's hood and use the indicator lines on the reservoir to determine whether you need to add an engine coolant or you are fine to go. If the level is low, add some amount of the engine coolant to get it to the right level.
The engine coolant is usually a mixture of both water and the coolant in equal proportions. In the hot months of the year, you can buy the concentrated coolant and prepare the solution yourself for use when you need it.
Note: You should add the coolant while the engine is cool and not when it's running and still hot.
9. Give your car a coolant flush servicing.
Keeping the engine coolant at the correct levels goes a long way in ensuring the engine doesn’t overheat. Nonetheless, over time, the coolant becomes dirty and calls for a replacement. At this point, visit a qualified mechanic and do a coolant flush.
Check your manual to determine the appropriate time to do a coolant flush for your car.
10. Carry out a car maintenance check.
Your car may overheat as a result of pump failure or a leakage in the coolant system. Regular inspection is, therefore, necessary to ensure that every component is positioned well and working as it should.
You can also check on the battery, especially if it is more than three years old. A failing battery will cause the car to strain, overheating as a result. Replace a failing or dead battery. Here is a guide on how to tell if you have a dead battery and fixing it. If you need a new car battery, you can check us out at Carpart.com.au.