DO’s and DON’Ts with an Overheating Car

Some things to keep in mind should your car’s engine overheat…

DO’s and DON’Ts with an Overheating Car

I’ve driven cars that only have three gauges on the dashboard. They have a speedometer, fuel gauge, and temperature gauge.

These are the three absolute most important gauges in your car, knowing the temperature of the engine is even more important than knowing the RPM.

It’s almost impossible for your engine temperature to be too low while operating, but temperature being too high is a serious concern.

An overheating engine can cause big problems for engine components and can lead to expensive engine damage.

Here are a few things you can and cannot do when faced with an overheating car…


Crank up the heat

The heating system on your vehicle uses coolant from the engine to heat the air entering the cabin.

If your vehicle is starting to get hot, turning on the heater will allow the cooling system to dissipate more temperature, it may help to keep the engine from overheating further.

This is only a temporary fix, and should only be used sparingly.

Make sure to roll down the windows to allow the hot air to escape the cabin.

Open the bonnet

When you reach your destination or it seems like you’re about to have a serious, immediate problem if the engine keeps running, turn off the motor and immediately open the bonnet.

Opening the bonnet allows the engine to get maximum airflow while the car isn’t moving and helps dissipate heat as quickly as possible.

Keep an eye on your coolant level

Coolant/antifreeze is the stuff that pumps through your engine, keeping it cool while the car is running.

Coolant lives inside the radiator and in a reserve tank. The location of the reserve tank varies, check your owner’s manual to find out where it is and how to check the level.

If it’s low, you can buy coolant at any auto parts store.

Make sure to mix it correctly, and only use demineralised water to prevent any corrosion forming in the cooling system.


Turn on the A/C while the car is overheatingg.

If your car is overheating, there’s a chance that the temperature may be higher than normal outside and the aircon is blasting to keep you nice and cool.

When the aircon is on, the A/C compressor running puts extra load on your engine making it work harder.

Sometimes your car might overheat just from being in crowded traffic on a hot day, in cases like this shut off the A/C and roll down your windows.

Touch your engine while it’s too hot

This one is obvious, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Hot engine components look suspiciously similar to cool ones.

NEVER touch or remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot – doing so will release the pressure in the cooling system and cause boiling hot coolant to gush out, potentially causing serious burns.

So, keep your hands off until the motor has had a chance to cool down.

Overfill the radiator or reserve tank

When filling the radiator with coolant, it’s okay to fill it right to the top of the reservoir, but that’s not the case with the reserve tank.

You’ll notice that the reserve tank has a fill line that’s well below the top of the tank. That’s because when the car is running the coolant expands and fills the rest of the tank.

If you overfill it it’s not a huge deal and it won’t hurt your engine, but it will spill out. It’s just a waste of coolant.

These are things that any motorist can do to keep their car cool and happy, but if you have consistent overheating issues, see a mechanic. Keep it cool!

Thanks to AutoGuru for this handy info on overheating cars.

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