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What To Do About An Overheated Engine

Posted in Bigbox Service Tips

Published Thu Mar 07 2024

What To Do About An Overheated Engine

Summer time. The time for hitting the road and heading to the beach with friends and family. Also the time for many people when their car's temperature gauge rises well above the normal and steam pours out of the bonnet, aka their car's engine has overheated.

Why is this? How can you prevent it? Let's find out.

Why Does an Engine Overheat?

Car engines can overheat for various reasons but typically it is a result of a fault in the engine and that it might have been left without a proper service for too long. Most commonly an engine will overheat due to when your car is low or out of coolant. Coolant is the fluid that goes in the radiator to help transfer heat away from the engine itself. If you notice this on a rare occasion you needn't be too worried, however, if this occurs regularly then this may be a sign that you have a leak or cracked radiator which allows the coolant to escape. 

Keep in mind that coolant fluctuates from the cooling system to the reservoir depending on the engine's temperature. So if you're unsure of whether you are 'actually' low on coolant or not, have a trained mechanic take a look at it. 

If your engine is overheating but the coolant isn't low or empty, this could mean there's a problem with your thermostat. Other reasons your engine is overheating could be related to issues with the radiator such as clogs or damaged caps. If you are certain of what the cause is, it's best to have a qualified mechanic take a look at it to diagnose the problem. 

How to Prevent Your Engine From Overheating

To best prevent an overheated engine from spoiling your day, make sure your car is getting serviced regularly by a trained mechanic. This means you can find and address the little problems before they become much more significant later down the track. Remember, it's better to prevent a problem before it even happens.

Another measure of prevention, and a great habit to get yourself into, is to regularly check and ensure your engine has enough coolant. This is especially important when taking long trips. If you are unsure of where the coolant level should be, you can check the by referring to the coolant reservoir.If you're out of coolant, you can pick up a new bottle at any auto good auto store. Just remember to buy coolant that is the same colour as what's currently in your engine - typically it will be either red or green. NEVER mix green and red coolant fluid together. If you need to top up the coolant and are unable to access the right colour coolant, you can use water. If the coolant in your engine is looking faded or rusty, this is a sign that you need a full coolant flush. This process should be completed by a qualified mechanic to ensure you don't end up with air bubbles in your coolant which will result in the air becoming trapped in the coolant system restricting the coolant from cooling down the engine.

What To Do If Your Engine Overheats?

Regardless of how well you maintain your coolant levels, it's still important to keep an eye on your temperature gauge on your dashboard to watch for any signs of an overheating engine. Some car manufacturers no longer put temperature gauges on the dashboard but instead have a light programmed to come on, on the dash, when the engine is too hot. For owner's of cars like this, become familiar with where this light is on your dash and keep an eye on this.

40 degree days can cause the car's temperature to rise and if you're driving up steep terrain you might run into trouble. If the temperature does rise, you need to act!

If you notice that you're car's engine is overheating whilst driving, pull over to a safe spot on the side of the road and wait for roadside assistance to come and help. Driving on an overheated engine is extremely risky as it can cause your engine to cease up which will do significant and expensive damage.

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