What To Do If Your Engine Overheats | AutoGuru
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5 tips If your engine overheats

Joel Ilton

Updated 4 May 2022

Joel Ilton

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Overheating is frequently considered a summertime problem.

When the mercury rises outside and the temperature becomes nearly unbearable for people, it’s easy to think that your car is more susceptible to overheating.

Your car is built to dissipate that heat, no matter what season it currently is.

The engine’s cooling system regulates the engine temperature quite effectively – if it’s working properly.

So if you find yourself in the driver’s seat when the temperature gauge starts to climb into the danger zone (the red zone, or ‘H’), keep these five tips in mind.

1. Stop the engine immediately

Pull over to a safe place at the side of the road and turn the engine off. Engine damage can result if you continue to drive while it’s overheating.

The engine fans may continue even with the engine off, so just wait it out for a while, until the gauge returns to the normal zone.

2. Never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot

The temperature gauge measures the coolant temperature. If it’s overheating, that means the engine coolant is extremely hot.

It’s also under pressure and can spray super-hot coolant on you when you undo the cap. Only open the cap when the engine has completely cooled.

3. Check for mechanical problems

If there is a coolant leak under the car, whether from the radiator, a hose, or an engine part, you know you’re going to require immediate repairs.

Once the engine has cooled, you can add coolant to the radiator which may get you to your destination safely.

If the engine’s drive belt has broken or is badly frayed, the repair is probably simple yet quite urgent.

It’s not recommended to drive without a drive belt – as the vehicle alternator may not be charging the battery and the water pump may not be operating.

If operated in this condition, major engine damage will occur!

4. Turn off unnecessary accessories

If you decide to continue on once your engine has cooled, turn off your air conditioning to reduce engine strain.

If the temperature starts to creep up close to the red zone again, try turning the heat fully on, which may keep your engine temperature a little cooler.

5. Have your vehicle inspected

It’s important to have your vehicle inspected as soon as possible, as continuing to operate your car whilst its overheating will cause major engine damage and may lead to you having to replace the whole engine.

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Image credit: Temperature gauge by Janeob9 used under the CC BY-ND 2.0 License

Joel Ilton

Written By

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

Joel is now the Workshop Manager at Robina Volkswagen.