It’s summertime, and many areas are experiencing sizzling, scorching, and steamy temperatures. As the weather warms up, pay attention to your car’s temperature, especially when you’re climbing steep hills or stuck in stop-and-go traffic. And to prepare yourself in case the worst should happen, use the tips below to learn what to do when your car overheats.
What to Do When Your Car Overheats
Know the warning signs. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge while driving to know if your car is overheating. If you notice that the temperature indicator is rising or a malfunction indicator light comes on, your car may be overheating, and you should take action immediately. Other signs of an overheating car include steam (which may look like smoke) pouring out of the hood and an unusual smell coming from the engine.
Turn off your air conditioner. This may be counterintuitive (shouldn’t you turn the AC up when the car is hot?), but it will reduce the engine’s load and help it cool off faster. Open your windows as well. If the car continues to overheat, turn on the heater to transfer heat from the engine to the passenger compartment. This may not be very comfortable for you, but it will certainly help your engine cool down.
Don’t ride your brakes. If you have the misfortune of being stuck in traffic while your engine is overheating, try to crawl along slowly instead of braking repeatedly. Allow a large gap to form between your car and the car ahead of you before you move forward. Braking is tough on your engine, so avoid it if you can. You could also shift into neutral or park and rev your engine a bit to make the water pump and fan speed up, increasing circulation within the car.
Pull over and open the hood. If your car gets too hot, pull over to the side of the road and turn off your engine. Open your hood when the car has cooled (if you’re able to pop the hood from the driver’s seat, you can do this when the car is still warm). Wait on the side of the road until the engine cools off. This could take 30 minutes or more.
Top off the engine coolant. Always carry an extra bottle of coolant (also called antifreeze) and a jug of water in your car so that you can top off the coolant when it’s running low. Check the coolant tank to see if it’s empty, and look under the car to see if it’s leaking.
WARNING: Wait until the engine is cool before you add coolant or water. If you remove the radiator cap while the engine is still hot, you run a very high risk of being burned.
Call your mechanic. Now that you know what to do when your car overheats, you need to figure out why your car has overheated. If you can’t blame the hot weather, contact your repair shop. The problem could be rooted in a low coolant level, a leak in the cooling system, failing radiator fan, or a malfunctioning thermostat.
If you’re located in Springfield, Missouri, or northwest Arkansas, call ASE-certified Seeburg Service Center for help. Our experienced, knowledgeable, and friendly mechanics will work hard to diagnose the issue, prescribe a remedy, and offer a solution. To get started, please give us a call or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!
Prevent future breakdowns. Finally, to prevent your car from overheating in the months and years to come, maintain your vehicle properly and schedule regular check-ups with your mechanic. Completing minor maintenance now can greatly reduce your risk of surprise failures down the road. Make sure you have a roadside assistance plan.