Car overheating is a typical cause of car breakdown. Imagine your car breaking down while you’re on a trip to the great outdoors with your family and friends.
I bet, towing your car into an auto repair shop due to an overheated engine is not your idea of a family adventure.
However, your car can sometimes look like it has a mind of its own, and unless you take good care of it, it can cause you endless embarrassment or annoyance. Most likely both.
Your car’s engine has an optimum temperature range where it will work at its best. Exposing it to temperatures out of this range, such as extremely high heat, is damaging to your car.
The funny part about it is that your car won’t go down quietly – no, no, it won’t. Many times, it will have steam and smoke to make a good show out of its situation.
So, how do you avoid that? Below we look at some ways of preventing overheating in your car.
How Do You Know Your Car Has an Overheating Issue?
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 tell-tale signs.
Signs of a Car Overheating
For car overheating, you can bank on the presence of the following signs and symptoms:
- Warning light of a thermometer with two wavy lines or the temperature gauge pointing towards hot – some cars may not have the temperature gauge and instead have a digital variation of the same.
- A distinct ‘hot but not burning’ smell in the cabin – that’s a sure indicator of a hot engine.
- Steam rising from the bonnet – you won’t find a more visual warning that your engine is overheating than vapours coming out of the hood.
- A ticking sound – engine becoming overheated and causing the oil to be thin, so there’s less lubrication between metal parts in the engine.
- A hood that's too hot to touch for more than a few seconds could also mean your car is overheating.
What Causes Car Overheating?
If you experience these signs, you should be more careful on the road. Some of car overheating causes are:
- 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 level which means that the oil can’t efficiently dissipate the 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.
Car Overheating: What to Do to Prevent It
Not only does an overheating engine cause damage to other car components, but it can also compromise your safety. Here are 10 Tips to prevent car overheating.
- Park your car under a shade to let it to cool down. 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. If you do this habitually, you’re shortening the lifespan not only of the engine but your car as well.
- Use window shades or windshield sunshades. Whenever you can't find a shaded parking spot, car sunshades are your fallback option to prevent UV rays from getting into your car's interior.
- Tint your car windows. A tint film on your car windows 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.
- Keep the windows slightly open. Leaving your car windows closed all the time traps hot air inside the car. A little gap will let some of the air escape. You can do the same for your sunroof if your car has one.
- 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.
- Don’t turn on the air conditioner when temperatures are high. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s better to leave your air conditioner off when it’s too hot so that you don’t add to the load of the engine, causing it to become hotter.
- Regularly check the temperature gauge. Most drivers only check the fuel gauge when driving. The temperature gauge is just as important, so 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, stop your car, and find a place to cool it down.
- Check on the engine coolant levels. 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’re fine to go. If the level is low, add some amount of the engine coolant to get it to the right level. Note: You should add the coolant while the engine is cool and not when it's running and still hot.
- Give your car a coolant flush servicing. Over time, the coolant becomes dirty and calls for a replacement. At this point, visit a qualified mechanic and do a coolant flushing. Check your manual to determine the appropriate time to do a coolant flush for your car.
- Carry out a car maintenance check regularly. Your car may overheat as a result of pump failure or a leakage in the coolant system. Regular inspection is key to ensuring 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 to diagnose a dead battery and fixing it. Check CarPart Australia for more articles like this and helpful tools like our Car Part Finder. Try it now!
By Sam O.