What to Do If Your Car Overheats

May 17

Imagine this: you’re driving down the highway minding your own business when all of a sudden you notice your car isn’t acting the way it should. You smell a distinct hot engine smell coming from the radiator and notice your car is “put-putting” along, otherwise known as a loss of power. You’re wondering what is happening. Chances are your car is experiencing overheating.

Before You Pull Over

If it is unsafe for you to pull over right away, there are a few things you can do until you can get out of harm’s way:

1) Turn off your air conditioning and open your windows. When you do this, you decrease the load on the engine and help cool it off.
2) Turn on the heater and blower. This will allow the heat to transfer from the engine to the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
3) If you are stopped in traffic and see your temperature gauge rising, shift your car into neutral or park and rev your engine a touch. This allows the water pump and fan to speed up, drawing more liquid and air through the radiator.
4) Do not ride your breaks. If you are in traffic, try to crawl slowly, on little more than an idle, rather than speeding up and breaking quickly.

Once You Have Pulled Over

1) Turn off your engine once you have parked in a safe location.
2) Refrain from opening the hood until the temperature gauge has moved from hot to cool or until your vehicle has completed cooled off.
3) Check your coolant/antifreeze level in the radiator. If you are unsure of where your coolant reservoir tank is located or how much should be in the tank, refer to your owner’s manual.
4) Be sure the radiator cap is cool before opening. Slowly twist the cap off with a towel. Be careful of any hot steam. If needed, fill coolant to the top of the radiator and then put the radiator cap back on.
5) Make sure that none of your vehicle’s heater hoses have been blocked, disconnected, or busted, including the upper and lower radiator hoses.
6) Restart the engine.
7) Carefully monitor your temperature gauge. If you see it crossing the optimal mark, pull over again to another safe location and turn your engine off.

If at any chance you feel as if these steps are ones you cannot do, for many people, calling AAA is a great backup option. However, you should always be prepared. Carry extra coolant in your car as well as a tool kit, working flashlight, non-perishable foods and water.

One comment

  1. The water pump can easily be relcpaed without removing the radiator. You do have to remove the top hose from the thermostat housing and tape it out of the way and take the fan shroud out which requires removing the hose that runs through the shroud. Once the shroud is out you have plenty of access to the water pump. The thermostat housing can stay in place as well. I installed a metal impeller Graf pump one year ago and it had a defective O ring and was leaking so I just relcpaed it again today.

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