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Car overheating : Why it happens and what to do when your car overheats

  • Car Wash
  • Natasha Young
  • 7 minutes

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Temperature sensors and computer-controlled electric fans in new-gen cars are intended to keep your engine operating in all weather conditions. But car overheating can still occur. You’re not the only one who’s had to cope with an overheating car, and you won’t be the last since even our electric truck future has complex thermal management systems. In this blog, we will walk you through everything you need to know about car overheating. 

car overheating

Why is my car overheating? 

Dysfunctional radiator 

Any foreign item thrown up by the truck might cause a coolant leak if it gets into the radiator. Your engine will overheat, pollute your oil, and leave you stranded on a lonely highway as a result of the fluid cascade. They’re all bad for your car’s well-being.  

Radiator hose failure 

Plastic and rubber hoses that supply the engine with essential fluids might crack and shatter as your car grows older. The smallest trickle of coolant might quickly grow into a flash deluge. Hose clamps, little metal rings with some kind of mechanism for securing the hoses, are also used to keep a car’s hoses in place. They, too, will meet their demise at the snout of death. 

Bad thermostat 

Stuck open or closed, this tiny component controls the radiator coolant flow to and from the engine. In any case, you’ll end up with a sweltering engine. 

Blown head gasket 

Because it generally results in thousands of dollars of repairs, ” blown head gasket ” is a word that is about as terrible as it gets when it comes to automotive terminology. 

Radiator fan malfunction 

Radiator fans help cool the antifreeze/coolant in all cars. Your car will overheat if that goes out, so you’ll need to get a new one. 

Should I have an emergency car overheating kit? 

Yes, absolutely. It’s always better to have it so that it can act as first aid. This will help you get to the nearest car care facility to get the proper fix. You’ll need these items if your car’s engine begins to overheat: 

  • Standard hand tools in a compact case 
  • Several gallons of gasoline 
  • Coolant (a 50/50 mix of antifreeze fluid and water): 1 gallon 
  • Towel 
  • Thick-knit gloves 

What are the signs that my car engine is overheating? 

It’s important to know the warning signals of an overheating automobile engine. But know that each car and scenarios are different. It’s always better to get to know your car’s mechanisms beforehand. 

  • Under the hood, steam (often resembling smoke) is seen rising from the vehicle’s hood. 
  • The engine temperature indicator on the dashboard or driver console reads “H” or goes towards the “red” zone. 
  • Strange smells coming from the front of the car, especially towards the hood. Coolant leaks are normally sweet-smelling, but oil leaks are often smoky. 

How to diagnose car overheating? 


If a car’s temperature gauge or dashboard “Check Engine” or “Temperature” malfunction indicator light flashes red, it’s an indication that the vehicle is overheating and needs to be serviced. Leaving the radiator to its own devices causes the radiator to overheat and release steam. 

Coolant system

Leaks in your cooling system can cause your car to overheat often and frequently lose coolant. You may need to add liquid to the system, change the thermostat, adjust or replace the auxiliary belt, or inspect the water pump if your car overheats in regular weather and traffic.

If you can see and reach the auxiliary belt that powers the water pump, make sure there are no more than 12 inches of giving. Replace the belt if it is frayed or seems to be loose. Hire a professional to do the work if you aren’t capable of doing it yourself. 

The suction created by the water pump might induce a collapse in the bottom radiator hose, resulting in overheating. Because oil removes up to 80% of the “waste heat” from your engine, a car with insufficient oil tends to overheat. 


If your car often overheats, the pressure cap is the first item to examine. The cooling system may fail if the gasket on the cap deteriorates, allowing pressure to escape. Most service locations can test it for you. Some overheating issues have nothing to do with the cooling system at all.  

Ignition system

If your ignition system is failing, your car may overheat due to the late timing, which occurs when the spark plugs fire the fuel/air combination after the piston has returned to its starting position. Overheating isn’t caused just by late timing, but when combined with other issues such as poor gas mileage, the engine can overheat to dangerous levels. A mechanic can use an electronic diagnostic system to examine your car’s timing and make adjustments if required. 


Having clogged radiators means that the system is unable to cool effectively since the liquid circulation is reduced. Remove and check the radiator with the help of a radiator professional. A simple steam-cleaning of the radiator may suffice, but if you’re unlucky, a more expensive remedy may be necessary. 

What to do if my car is overheating? 

If your automobile begins to overheat, these are the five things you should do: 

Activate the heating system 

Turning on the heating actually helps, despite the fact that it seems contradictory. As a result, the engine’s cooling system does not have to work as hard to keep the vehicle cool. In some cases, that may be sufficient to stop the overheating. Warning lights will go out, or the temperature gauge will reset when it’s operating. 

Pullover immediately 

The safest and surest approach to cool your engine is to pull over and turn off the engine if your car continues to overheat after a few minutes of driving with the heater on. It is the right time to call your roadside assistance now in case you need a tow. 

Remain calm 

Be patient; it will take at least 15 minutes for the engine to cool down if you don’t have roadside help. In the meanwhile, we advise you to not open the hood since the coolant will be super-hot. It may reach temperatures of over 230 degrees. There is a risk of being sprayed with hot water or steam if the hood is opened. Your own safety is the most crucial consideration.  

Add the coolant slowly 

Put on gloves, open the hood, and find the radiator cap after waiting at least 15 minutes. Make sure that the hood is cool to the touch. Push down carefully on the cap with a cloth to remove the pressure generated up by the expansion of the coolant as it is heated. Slowly add coolant (half water, half antifreeze) until the liquid reaches the “full” line. Adding coolant to the little, clear plastic overflow reservoir on the side of the radiator is advised. Turn on the engine after putting the cap back on. It is best to proceed with caution and keep an eye on the temperature gauge or red warning light if the gauge returns to normal.  

Get to the nearest car care facility 

When your car’s engine overheats, adding coolant doesn’t fix the problem, but it can let you get to a car care facility safely. Observe the vehicle’s temperature gauge while driving. In addition, keep an eye out for anything unusual, such as leaking fluid or steam coming from beneath the hood. These essential facts will be crucial to making a proper diagnosis. If you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and struggling to find the nearest car care facility, fret not. We have got you covered.  We recommend you to visit Way.com or download the Way app (available on iOS and Android) and find the best near you.


Read our blogs for information on the best airport parking and hourly parking spots near you and the most affordable insurance for your car.


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