What to do When Your Car Overheats

overheating car

You trust your car to run well and to get you where you need to go. So what happens when your engine starts overheating? This can be a scary situation, and knowing what to do is critical. Here’s our complete guide to handling an overheating engine like a pro:

Why Overheating Happens

Before you can know how to deal with it, it helps to understand what causes overheating. There are several reasons a car may overheat, including…

  • A leak in the coolant system
  • Blocked hoses
  • Corrosion and mineral deposits
  • Radiator issues
  • Broken water pumps
  • And more

To prevent your vehicle from overheating, have it inspected regularly. 

Signs of Overheating

How will you know if your car is overheating? Here are the most common signs:

  • The temperature light gauge comes on. If you’ve been driving for a while and your warning light or temperature gauge comes on, it’s a sign of excessive heat in the engine. 
  • The car smells hot. When the engine begins to overheat, you’ll notice a distinct smell. This may happen even if your warning light isn’t on.
  • Thumping or ticking sounds. The engine may make thumping or ticking sounds when it begins to overheat. These noises indicate system failures in the engine and are a sign that overheating is about to happen.
  • You see coolant on the ground. Coolant serves a vital purpose – it removes excess heat in the engine and cools the system. When it’s on the ground, though, it means there’s a failure in the cooling system, which is preventing the coolant from doing its job. 
  • Steam from under the hood. When the car overheats, you’ll notice reduced engine power, a hot hood, and a billow of steam pouring out from under the hood. This means your coolant is past the boiling point and has become steam. 

If you notice any of these signs, stop operating the car immediately and contact your local auto repair team.

What to do if Your Car Overheats

If your car overheats, stop driving immediately. Follow these steps to avoid further damage:

  • Pull over to the side of the road and turn off the engine.
  • Do not open the hood until it is cool to the touch.  
  • Once you can open the hood, check the coolant levels.  
  • When the radiator cap is cool to the touch, open it slowly, avoid steam. If needed, add coolant into the radiator and replace the radiator cap. 
  • Inspect the upper or lower radiator hoses for signs of disconnection, cracks, or kinks.
  • Restart the engine.
  • Watch the temperature garage. If it goes back up, turn the car off, and contact a tow truck. 

While overheating cars require the attention of a Pensacola auto repair mechanic, you can be prepared by keeping spare coolant and a few rags in your car, just in case the vehicle does overheat. 

Our Team Will Help you Stay Cool

If your engine has been overheating, visit our team today. We’ll inspect and service your cooling system and make sure your car is safe to hit the road once more. Contact us now to get on the schedule.