September 28, 2016 at 12:10 PM
Most of us have been there before at one time or another - sitting in heavy traffic on a warm day with the temperature gauge rising and the ever-present fear of the engine overheating. An overheating vehicle could lead to the engine shutting down or even catching fire, so it's important to determine why the problem is occurring and remedy the situation before your car requires costly repairs.
Why Does My Car Engine Overheat?
There are several problems that can lead to a car's engine overheating but luckily, many of the issues are a simple fix. Some of the primary causes of overheating include:
- Low coolant levels - this is one of the main reasons for engines overheating on the road. Having enough coolant is essential, especially when travelling at speed.
- Broken cooling fan - if your car's fan is working sluggishly or even not working at all its motor may have burned out or there may be a problem with your car's radiator switch.
- Broken fan belt - many cars still rely on a fan belt to keep the engine cool. If it's broken, overheating will occur rapidly.
- Thermostat remaining closed - if your car's thermostat is broken and remaining in the closed position, coolant is unable to flow through properly, resulting in overheating.
- Clogged radiator - a common problem in high mileage vehicles, a radiator that is clogged will stop it from working correctly, causing overheating.
- Leaking coolant - if you see liquid under your car after it has been parked for some time, you may have a coolant leak which is causing the overheating problem.
What Can I Do To Stop My Vehicle From Overheating?
If you see that your car is overheating, you should take the following steps:
- Turn the air conditioning off and open the windows
- Crank up the heater
- Pull over and stop as soon as it's safe to allow your car some time to cool down. Don't open the bonnet for around 30 minutes until all steam has stopped coming out of the engine
- Top up your coolant - if you have none in the car use water instead, but never open any engine parts until it has cooled down
- If you're stuck in a jam, put your car into neutral and gently rev your engine to move coolant through the system
- Avoid braking as much as possible - try to creep rather than stopping and starting
- Call your breakdown service
Remember that an overheated engine will be very hot, so take extreme care when opening any part of your vehicle's engine and always wait until complete cooling has taken place. Never try to drive a car that has run out of coolant or you may permanently damage the engine - call a breakdown service instead.