What Causes A Car To Overheat? And Tips for Your Car

You need your car for commuting to work, picking up the kids from school, and running other errands. Then one day you get an overheated car – what causes a car to overheat? It’s not a pleasant scenario to be in because most of the time you don’t have a clue what caused it. In this post, we’ll briefly discuss the top most common reasons that can cause your car to overheat, so that if it ever happens to you, you’ll know what to do.

What Causes A Car To Overheat?

If you’re driving around in a vehicle that is overheating, it’s important to pay attention to what your vehicle is telling you. If your engine is overheating, there could be a number of reasons why this has happened.

Low Coolant ( Too Little Or No Coolant)

This one is pretty simple. If there isn’t enough coolant in the system or no coolant at all, then the engine will overheat. The most common cause of this is when people don’t check their coolant levels regularly and run out of coolant. Another common cause is if someone decides to add water when they don’t need it, which can also lead to an empty reservoir. It’s best not to mess with adding fluids yourself unless you know exactly what kind of fluid needs replacing and how much of it should be replaced.

Cooling System Leaks

This is the most common cause of overheating. Coolant leaks can be identified by a puddle of liquid under the car or even steam coming from under the hood. If you suspect that your cooling system needs repair, contact a mechanic as soon as possible to avoid further damage to other parts of your vehicle.

Water Pump Failure

If your water pump fails, it will not circulate coolant through the engine and it will overheat as a result. This is why it’s important to have regular maintenance done on your car so that any problems like this are caught early on and can be repaired before they become more serious.

Collapsed Radiator Hose

If one of the hoses in your radiator collapses, it will stop coolant from flowing through it properly and cause an increase in temperature inside the engine block (which can lead to car overheating). You may notice leaking fluid from around this area if there is a problem with one of these hoses. If so, contact a mechanic immediately so they can replace it before any further damage occurs.

Leaking Heater Core

A leaking heater core will cause the coolant to leak out of the engine and onto the ground under the hood. If you don’t fix this problem soon, your car could overheat and stop working altogether.

Thermostat Stuck Closed

If your thermostat is stuck closed, the coolant will not circulate through the engine and you will have poor cooling. This can cause the engine to overheat, especially when sitting in traffic or at a stoplight.

Improper Coolant Concentration

If your coolant concentration is too low, it will not provide adequate protection against overheating. It’s possible that you may not realize this right away because the temperature gauge may not rise as quickly as normal with a low coolant level.

Plugged Radiator

If there are any obstructions inside the radiator, it will prevent air from being able to pass through it and cool down the engine. This could be anything from leaves or dirt getting stuck in between fins or sludge buildup that has accumulated since you last flushed out your cooling system. Either way, having a plugged radiator will cause your engine to overheat.

Radiator Fan Isn’t Working

If your engine is overheating, the first thing you should do is check the radiator fan to make sure it’s working. If it is a faulty radiator fan, then you’ll need to replace it or get a new one from your local auto parts store.

Shredded Belt

If you have a shredded belt, then your vehicle won’t be able to maintain proper cooling, so it will overheat. This can happen due to age or neglect (if the belt was never changed), but in most cases, it is an easy fix.

Driving Like A Maniac

Driving like a maniac can cause your vehicle to overheat because you are putting stress on the engine and causing it to work harder than normal (and this is especially true if you have an older car). This can also cause other problems with your vehicle like poor gas mileage, so please slow down!

Oil Too Low

If your car has not been maintained regularly and you are driving in heavy traffic or on a long trip, it may be possible that the oil level is too low. This will prevent the oil from lubricating the engine properly and may cause serious damage if left unchecked.

Thermostat Failure

One of the common signs of overheating is a faulty thermostat. The thermostat regulates the temperature inside your car’s engine by opening and closing based on how hot or cold it gets inside. If it doesn’t close properly, then your engine will continue running at high temperatures until something else breaks down as well.

Heater Core Is Plugged Up

If you notice that your heater does not work properly or blows out cold air instead of hot air, check if any debris has been clogging up the radiator fins or heater core tubes inside your vehicle’s radiator.

What Happens When An Engine Overheats?

Overheating too high will damage the engine

When your engine overheats, it’s one of the most terrifying experiences you can have as a driver. The engine temperature gauge will start creeping up and you’ll hear the engine straining to push through the thick, hot air. If it continues to rise, you’ll know that something has gone wrong and you need to pull over immediately. But what happens when your engine overheats?

Overheating is a serious problem because it can damage your engine seriously if left unchecked. This means that if you don’t know what to do when your car overheats then you could end up with thousands of dollars worth of repairs on top of the initial cost of fixing it.

What To Do If Your Car Is Overheating?

Turn Off The A/C

If your car is overheating, the first thing you should do is turn off the air conditioner. You can do this by turning off the main switch on the dashboard or by pushing down the button in front of you that looks like a small fan. This will prevent excess heat from building up inside your car, which will help prevent further damage.

Crank The Heat

Next, crank up the heat as high as it will go. This will help cool down your engine while keeping you warm enough to stay safe until help arrives. If your car doesn’t have a heater option, don’t worry — just keep driving slowly until you find somewhere safe to stop and wait for help.

Stop Driving

If you’re driving and notice that your engine is starting to overheat, pull over as soon as you can. Don’t try to keep driving until you reach your destination; this could cause more damage to your engine and potentially cause a fire!

Open The Hood

Once you’ve stopped driving and the car has cooled down, open the hood of your car. Look for any signs of leaking coolant or steam coming from under the hood or from around the radiator cap – this means there may be a leak in one or more of your hoses or radiator tubes and you should get it checked out immediately by a professional mechanic.

Let The Engine Cool On Its Own

After pulling over and opening up the hood, let your vehicle sit for at least 15 minutes with no one inside so that it can cool off on its own. If possible, turn on the A/C while you wait so that any excess heat from the engine will be blown out of the car rather than into it!

Add Coolant

The next step that you should take when your engine starts to overheat is adding coolant. If you don’t have any, then stop wherever you are and get some right away. Most service stations carry it and it’s cheap enough that there’s no reason not to keep some in the car at all times.

Get It Checked Out

If the problem persists after adding coolant, then it might be time to get it checked out by a mechanic. They will be able to diagnose the problem and let you know whether or not it’s something that can be repaired on your own or if they need to take care of it at their shop instead.

How To Keep A Car From Overheating

Park Your Car In The Shade

Park your car in the shade to keep your car cool

If you know you’ll be stuck in traffic for a while or have an especially long drive ahead of you, try parking in the shade instead of in direct sunlight. This will help keep the temperature down inside your car and prevent it from overheating.

Tint Your Windows

The next thing that you should do is tint your windows. Tinted windows help reduce the amount of heat that gets into your car by deflecting the sun rays away from the interior of your vehicle. This helps keep your car cooler during hot days.

Use Car Window Shades

Another way to keep your car cool is by using car window shades. Car window shades have been proven to help reduce the temperature inside your vehicle by up to 20 degrees! These shades are available for every type of vehicle and come in many different colors and designs so that they’ll match any style or decor. They’re also very easy to install yourself!

Leave Car Windows Open Slightly

When you’re driving on a hot day, cracked windows will allow air to flow into the car more easily. This will reduce the temperature inside your vehicle and help prevent your air conditioning system from working too hard.

Turn The Floor Air Vents On

Cracked windows aren’t the only way to keep cars from overheating — opening floor vents also help. If you don’t have floor vents, open any other vents that might be available in your vehicle (such as the cargo area or front passenger side). This allows more air in and keeps your engine running at a cooler temperature.

Cover The Steering Wheel And Seats With A Towel Or Blanket

The steering wheel and seats get hot when you drive because they’re close to the engine compartment. Covering them with a towel or blanket will help keep them cool while you’re driving and protect them from damage caused by heat build-up over time.

Invest In A Remote Starter

If your car is older or has a large engine, consider installing a remote starter. This will allow you to start the car from outside of the vehicle and get some cool air circulating before you hop in. It also helps prevent theft since thieves may not know the car is running.

Use The Fresh Air Setting Instead Of Recirculation On Your A/C

If you have an older vehicle with manual climate controls and are using recirculation mode on your air conditioner (which is what most people do), you could be trapping hot air inside of the cabin and causing it to heat up faster than normal. If possible, switch over to fresh-air mode instead so that outside air circulates through your vents instead of recirculating inside air around and around again — this will help keep things cool inside your car.

Keep Your Eye On The Car Temperature Gauge

The best way to avoid overheating is to watch the temperature gauge on your dashboard and take action before it gets too high. If your gauge is moving toward the red zone, pull over as soon as possible and turn off your engine until it cools down enough for you to continue safely (but don’t let the engine cool down too much).

Turn On The Heat To Cool The Engine

If you have air conditioning in your vehicle, turn on the air conditioner full blast to help cool down your engine. This will also help prevent moisture buildup inside your car, which can lead to rust or corrosion damage. It’s also a good idea to roll down all windows while driving through rainy conditions or when there’s snow on the road — both scenarios can cause fogging on interior windows that will reduce visibility while driving.

Add Engine Coolant

The most common cause of overheating is low engine coolant. The engine coolant in your car circulates through the radiator and absorbs the heat from the engine. As it absorbs the heat, it expands and becomes less dense, allowing it to rise in temperature. A boiling point of approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit means it’s at its most efficient when used to cool down your vehicle. If you’re low on coolant, you’ll see symptoms like steam coming from under your hood or even smoke coming out of your tailpipe.

Have Your Radiator Flushed By A Mechanic

You can extend the life of your radiator by having it flushed by a mechanic every two years or so. This involves removing all of the old fluid and replacing it with a new coolant that will keep your motor running efficiently for a longer period of time than normal.

Consider Replacing Your Car Battery

If you’re experiencing problems with overheating because of serious issues with electrical components in your vehicle, then consider replacing your car battery as soon as possible to avoid further damage to other parts of your car’s electrical system.


Can You Drive A Car That Is Overheating?

The best answer is no. Driving a car that is overheating can cause serious damage to the engine and possibly even lead to an accident. So, if you’re ever driving and see that your temperature gauge is rising, pull over immediately and try to figure out what’s wrong. If you don’t have time to stop or find somewhere safe to pull over, then you should do whatever you can to reduce the temperature in the engine.

Should You Turn On The Heater If Your Car Is Overheating?

When your car is overheating, it’s tempting to turn on the heater to help cool down. But is that really a good idea?

The answer depends on whether your car has a working cooling system. If it does, then turning on the heater will actually make things worse. The more air you pump through the radiator, the more heat you’ll transfer from your engine bay into the cabin. This isn’t just bad for comfort; it can also damage your engine.

If your car doesn’t have a working cooling system — or if it’s only partially working — then turning on the heater may help keep some of that heat from escaping into the atmosphere. But even in this case, using an electric fan instead of blowing hot air directly out of the vents can be better than letting all that heat escape through holes in your bodywork or underbody panels.

Can Low Coolant Cause Overheating?

Low coolant is a common problem for vehicles, and it can cause overheating. The first thing you should do when you notice low coolant has checked the level. If it’s low, add more coolant as needed.

Bottom Line

From these simplest of causes, we hope that you understand what causes a car to overheat, and most importantly, what to do if it ever happens. Preventing this from occurring is simple; it is just twofold to remember to check and deal with the two important factors above. A little bit of preventative maintenance will go a long way in keeping your car running cool for many years to come.

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