What Do You Do When Your Car’s Engine Overheats?

The last thing most people expect when they get behind the wheel of their car is their engine overheating; But, it’s very important to know the signs and steps you can take if that happens, so you can handle the situation safely and effectively. If not addressed immediately, an overheating engine could permanently damage the engine – requiring costly repairs. Here are some tips for if you find yourself on the road in a vehicle that’s overheating.

First off, how do you know that your engine is overheating? Most Vehicles have an engine temperature gauge, and a good indicator of an overheating engine is when that gauge is suddenly higher than normal, or goes above the boiling point of water (212° F). Some other warning signs of an overheating engine could be the vehicles heater not getting warm, the appearance of an emergency temperature light on your dashboard or steam rising from under the hood. Steam rising from under the hood could also be the symptom of a burst radiator hose, which if you have some duct tape and a jug of water, can be “fixed” on the spot to last you until you get to Al’s Auto Care.

If you notice your engine is overheating, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.

Sometimes, you notice that the engine is overheating a bit too late by noticing some steam or smoke rise from under the hood. If this is the case – pull over immediately for yours and other drivers’ safety, and to prevent risking any more damage to your car.

Once you’ve pulled over, the best way to cool your car down is to turn it off. If there is steam coming from under the hood, it is best to leave the hood closed until your car has cooled down. This typically takes about 30 minutes, but will save you from potentially burning yourself with steam. That being said, you also do not want to open your radiator cap until the car is completely cool, as doing so could unleash a geyser of boiling coolant all over you.

If for whatever reason, you cannot pull over safely for a while, you can turn your heater on full blast to buy you some time on the road, as doing so will provide some additional cooling through the heater core. Once pulled over, it is best to turn the car off and phone a friend or a tow truck for assistance. There’s not much that can be done on the fly to fix an overheating engine on the side of the road.

“The last thing people expect when they get behind the wheel of their car is their engine overheating”

It’s hard to predict if or when your engine will overheat, but regularly keeping an eye on your coolant levels is a start. If you don’t have enough coolant in your vehicle, and don’t have any antifreeze/coolant handy, water will do in a pinch. However, you do not want to keep water in your radiator over the winter, as the cold temperatures will cause the water to freeze, expand and crack your radiator and hoses.

There are other reasons that could cause a car to overheat, so having a regular cooling system inspection and maintenance plan with Al’s Auto Care can be a good way to keep expensive repairs out of sight and keep your car on the road. For more information on Al’s Auto Care Scheduled Maintenance Plans, contact us or give us a call at 1-(732) 477-9776.

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