What to Do (and Not to Do) With an Overheating Car: 6 Tips

Summers were made for road trips. But everybody’s favorite time of year can also be fraught with hazards, especially when it comes to the heat. Hot summer days can sometimes leave you with an overheating car. When that happens, you could find yourself stuck by the side of the road waiting for a tow truck to rescue you. Don’t let this happen. Follow the tips below if you notice your temperature gauge peaking out. They’ll keep you rolling until you can get where you’re going, as long as it seems safe to try any of them. Once you do, get your car into the shop ASAP.

First, What Can Cause an Overheating Car?

  • Loose or broken fan belt
  • Low coolant level
  • Coolant leak
  • Engine thermostat stuck in a single position
  • Defective or failing water pump

If You Get a Warning on Your Dash, or the Engine Temp Gauge Increases, Your Car is Starting to Overheat.

What NOT To Do:

  • Sounds like common sense, but do not touch any engine component to include the radiator cap, hoses, anything in the engine compartment. You’ll get burned. Simple enough, but folks still poke around.
  • Do not touch, try and remove or open the cap on your radiator until the car has sat for a few hours and cooled down.
  • Do not try and add any water to the radiator or hose it down (yes some have done this). Let the vehicle cool down on its own. If needed, add coolant to the radiator at the appropriate time, not water.

What TO Do:

  • Turn off the A/C if its turned on. Air conditioning runs off a compressor that places a load on your engine causing it to work harder. You need to lighten the load on the engine.
  • Crank up the heater to the highest temperature and roll down your windows. The heater will pull high temperatures away from the engine.
  • If you can, give your car a rest and open the hood to release some of the heat in the engine compartment.

To prevent you car from overheating, make sure that the coolant level in your radiator is where it should be. If it’s low, you’re asking for trouble. Before it gets too hot and before you head out on that long awaited road trip, make an appointment with a local auto service shop to bring your car in and have your coolant levels tested and topped off.

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