When a vehicle overheats and the engine runs too hot, it can lead to damage if you do not have it attended to in a prompt manner. Not only can major engine damage leave you stranded, it can leave a huge dent in your pocketbook. With a few tips and tools however, you can prevent your car from overheating so you can keep it on the road.
Maintain the Coolant Level
If you are going on a long trip, keep a gallon of water or coolant in the car. A car's coolant system uses coolant to circulate and remove heat from the engine. If you have a radiator leak or the coolant level becomes low, heat will continue to build. If this occurs when you are away from home, extra water can come in handy so you do not end up stranded. Adding water to the coolant reservoir can prevent the car from overheating until you can get the vehicle looked at. Checking the coolant level is often the simplest and first thing you should do when you worry about overheating.
Watch the Temperature Gauge
If you are driving, or even at a stop, glance at the temperature gauge. If it is above normal, turn off the air conditioner and open the windows until you can pull over safely and shut the car off. When checking the car, take care to let it cool down before you open the bonnet or remove the radiator cap, as this can result in injuries.
Check the Hoses
The coolant system is composed of more than just the radiator, as it contains several hoses. When servicing your car, or doing a check to make sure it is road ready, carefully inspect the hoses to ensure they are free from leaks, blockages and cracks. If any of these are present, it can cause the car to overheat.
Check the Fan
When having the oil changed, this is the optimal time to check the fan. The fan can become rusted or corroded, and the fan belt can become worn. When this occurs and the fan fails to operate correctly, the car will not cool down to the correct temperature.
Test the Coolant
Just because the coolant level is at the correct level does not mean there is not a problem. For most cars, especially during the winter months, the radiator reservoir should contain a mix of 50 per cent coolant and 50 per cent water, as coolant helps keep the engine from getting too hot. Simple tools that test the coolant to water ratio are available at most auto part stores. The vehicle's owner manual will specify the exact ratio that is optimal for your vehicle.
Check the Radiator
Like all car parts, as radiators age, they are prone to rust, leaks and other problems. When the radiator leaks, it can cause the car to overheat. If you are constantly topping off the coolant level, this is a good indicator that a leak is present. The same is true if you find leaks coming from the radiator. If you suspect a leak somewhere in the coolant system, but can't pinpoint it, have it checked by a mechanic. A mechanic can do a pressure test to diagnose the issue. If you find a small leak, but cannot get to a mechanic right away, auto part stores carry products designed to stop leaks in a radiator, though this is often just a temporary solution.
Check the Fan Belt
If you have a vehicle that uses a fan belt to drive the cooling fan, ensure it stays in good working order. If the belt wears down or breaks, the fan will stop operating, which leads to overheating. Fixing a bad fan belt is much easier and less expensive than replacing an engine that malfunctions due to overheating.
Check the Thermostat
If your vehicle overheats at highway speeds, the thermostat might just be the cause. If the thermostat fails and does not open, coolant cannot push through. When this occurs, the engine will no longer be able to stay cool at higher speeds, which leads to overheating. Luckily, replacing a thermostat is an easy and usually inexpensive fix.
Have the Radiator Flushed
Even if your vehicle seems to be running fine, having the radiator and coolant system flushed every few years might just save your vehicle from overheating. If the radiator becomes clogged, the engine might start running hot. A flush can easily fix this problem.
If you are driving and the car begins to overheat, pull over immediately. If smoke is coming from under the bonnet, continuing to drive can cause major engine damage. While a car sometimes overheats, there are some things you can do to minimise the risk. With just a few minutes and a few tools, you can keep your car safely on the road with minimal hassle.