What do you do with an overheating engine?

So, you are driving along, listening to whatever your driving music or entertainment of choice might be and your eye catches your instrument panel. “That’s odd.”, you think to yourself. For some reason you could have sworn that that your temperature gauge is higher today than yesterday. As you keep your eyes on the slowly rising temperature, panic starts to creep in. You don’t want to admit it, but your car is, in fact, overheating.

If you’ve never experienced an engine overheating, you are lucky.Trying to make sense of an engine that is spitting boiling fluids at you is, needless to say, not the most pleasant event in the world and can quickly lead to panic. STOP! Staying calm is always the best way to solve any type of problem. In fact, help yourself start thinking logically by committing these steps to memory. I promise it will help you remain calm and avoid further damaging your vehicle when it overheats.

How to Handle an Overheating Car

  1. AC off, heater on. Turn your heater on full blast to help drain some of the heat from the engine.
  2. Pull over and turn the engine off. If there’s shade around, park under it. This will help you and your car keep cool.
  3. Lift the hood. Unless you see steam coming out, lift the hood to help the engine cool down. Do not touch the radiator cap or pour cool water on the engine!
  4. Wait. It’ll take about 30 minutes to an hour for the engine to cool down. If you’re planning on calling AAA or some other roadside assistance, now’s the time.
  5. Check the coolant tank. It’s a translucent plastic tank located under the hood, near the radiator. If it’s empty, suspect a leak, which you’ll be able to detect if there’s liquid dripping from under the engine. Engines are designed to use coolant that’s a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. If you have coolant in the right mixture, you can add it to the coolant tank or the radiator–but only after it‘s cool to the touch. If you don’t have coolant, you can simply pour water into the coolant tank so you can limp along to a repair shop. On the other hand, if there’s plenty of coolant in the tank, the overheating could be caused by an electrical or mechanical problem. Adding more coolant won’t help. [Consumer Reports]
  6. Take the car to your dealer. This step can be skipped, but I really don’t recommend it. You probably wouldn’t skip a trip to the doctor after a heat stroke, would you? In a lot of cases, the radiator is probably low on fluid, but it could also be something much worse. Better safe than sorry.

Why is your car overheating? Check out this video:

Remember, cars overheat all the time. The important thing to do is remain calm by knowing how to handle the situation and not cause more damage to your car or truck.

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