As temperatures heat up, so do our car’s engines. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make sure climbing temperatures don’t permanently harm your car. The following are easy steps to take if your car overheats:
First, always carry an extra bottle of coolant and a jug of water in your car. Usually cars overheat due to low coolant so topping it off can often fix this problem. If that doesn’t work, water can also temporarily do the trick.
If the temperature gauge goes into the red area, or a notification light comes on, immediately turn off your A/C system as the A/C puts a lot of strain on your engine. If the temperature gauge doesn’t go down, turn your heater up all the way. It may be brutal for a few miles, but transferring that heat away from your engine may save its life.
If these steps fail, pull over as soon as possible and turn off your engine. Open your hood from the driver’s seat, if you can, to allow more heat to escape the engine compartment, but never risk opening it by hand until the engine has completely cooled down, which takes at least 30 minutes.
Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant tank. If it is empty or there is a puddle or drip under the car, you may have a coolant tank leak.
If you do have leak, place a cloth over the radiator cap to protect your hand and carefully unscrew it, tipping it away from you as it opens. Refill the COOLED radiator with spare coolant or water as to not crack the engine block due to sudden temperature change. Most cars require a 50:50 mix of coolant and water so don’t drive indefinitely with nothing but water in the coolant tank. If there is no leak and the coolant tank is full, the problem is likely electrical or mechanical, and you’ll need to call a reputable auto repair shop to tow your car.
Cars can overheat no matter what age they are. Keeping an eye on the temperature gauge, storing extra bottles of water and coolant, and knowing what to do are your best tools in the event your car overheats. Avoiding your car turning into a volcano on your next summer road trip will help ensure your vacation is a good one.