Why Is My Car Overheating?  

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Wondering how to prevent your car overheating? Check out some reasons why it happens and how to prevent it!

During the summertime when the days get hot, the last thing you want to see is smoke rolling out from under your hood when you’re headed off for a vacation or simply to the grocery store. Unfortunately, engines do overheat, and if you don’t take the right precautions, you can do some serious damage in an emergency. One of the big questions people have when this happens why is my car overheating?

Don’t Keep Driving!

Before we dig into all the reasons your car might be overheating, you need to know what not to do. Never keep driving if your engine is overheating. First things first: Stop driving and turn off your vehicle.

Understanding Your Vehicle’s Cooling System

It’s also essential to understand your vehicle’s cooling system. It works to keep your engine’s temperature at operational levels by circulating antifreeze — coolant — through your engine and to the radiator. That helps pull heat away from your car’s engine.

Sometimes, the devices designed to help cool the heat distribution may start failing. When this happens, it often damages the engine, seals, hoses, and gaskets that help your engine keep running.

car with smoke

Common Reasons Vehicles Overheat

Why is my car overheating? Various problems can result in an engine overheating. Some issues may be a quick fix, while others may be more serious. The following are a few issues that may cause your vehicle to overheat:

  • Lack of Coolant – If you don’t have enough coolant in your vehicle, it could result in a coolant system failure. If the levels in your car are lower than the recommended amount, top off or refill levels with antifreeze.
  • Leaks in the Cooling System – Notice that your coolant reservoir tank is empty? You could have a leak. Check the ground to see if there are any puddles or spots.
  • Radiator Problems – Your radiator and its fan work to reduce heat from your engine by decreasing the temperature of the coolant. Fan problems make it difficult for the radiator to remove the heat, resulting in increased temperatures.
  • Thermostat Issues – Just like the thermostat in your home, your vehicle’s thermostat regulates your engine’s temperature. If it fails, it might not allow the coolant to flow as it should.
  • Broken Water Pump – Your vehicle’s water pump circulates engine coolant through your engine. The buildup of dirt may keep it from moving through the water pump, resulting in overheating.
  • Hose and Belt Problems – If your coolant hoses are ruptured, leaking, or blocked, or if belts become frayed or worn, they may not be able to help maintain coolant and airflow as they should.
  • Low Oil – Motor oil doesn’t just lubricate your engine. It also controls engine temperature. Sometimes increased engine temperatures occur due to a lack of oil.

Know What to Do if You See Your Car Overheating

If you notice smoke coming out from under the hood, a strange smell, or you have an engine overheat warning light come on. If your car overheating is the issue, here are a few steps to follow:

  • Stop driving. Pull off to a safe area and turn your vehicle off. If you keep driving, you could permanently damage your vehicle.
  • Only continue moving if you absolutely have to. If you cannot stop, keep moving slowly until you can stop.
  • Turn the heat on. While the vehicle is still going, turn on your heat if you must keep going to pull heat away from your vehicle’s engine. You should also turn off the air conditioner.
  • Open your windows. This helps release more heat.
  • Don’t immediately open the hood. Opening it immediately could result in burns. Wait until you see the temperature gauge move into the normal range.
  • Don’t think the problem will go away on its own. If it’s not something simple, call for roadside assistance or service.

Want to learn more about the ins and outs of your car? Reading up on the latest tools, tips, and tricks in car magazines will help you navigate tricky situations like the above.

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John Miller

John Miller is a cars enthusiast who loves writing anything related to automobiles. He is a passionate blogger writing for innovatecar.com and other auto blogs