What To Do If Your Car Overheats?

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Have you ever had a car overheat? Or perhaps you are dreading the day it might happen. While incredibly common, an overheating engine can be stressful and dangerous. Especially if you don’t know what to do. While your first instinct might be to panic, this won’t be the most productive use of your energy. The number one thing that should be on your mind is safety! If your car is overheating, here is the right course of action to take (and some preventative measures for added safety).

How to Tell if Your Car is Overheating

Cars overheat for a variety of reasons. As such, it can be difficult to identify the reason for your smoking engine. Oftentimes, the culprit for an overheating vehicle is an issue with the cooling system. A malfunctioning cooling system prevents heat from escaping the engine’s compartment, causing it to steam. For example, your car could have a defective radiator fan, a broken water pump, a leak, or a blocked coolant hose. However, this could be tough to determine if you’re not familiar with car mechanics.

Regardless of the reasoning, an overheating engine demands action. If ignored, your car could experience significant – potentially permanent – damage. To identify an overheating car, look for the following signs:

  • Steam escaping from beneath the hood
  • The engine sounds louder than normal
  • You hear unfamiliar clunking noises while driving
  • The coolant light is flashing or illuminated
  • The temperature gauge is above the middle mark
  • Engine stalls during acceleration or deceleration

What to Do if Your Car Overheats

1.     Stop driving

When your car overheats, it’s imperative you pull over as quickly and safely as you can. If you’re on a busy road, decelerate to reduce overheating and pull over when safe to do so. Avoid obstructing traffic to prevent a collision when parking. Then, turn off the engine immediately. This is the safest and most effective way to cool the engine when stuck in a roadside bind.

2.     Call a towing company for roadside assistance

Avoid DIY repairs on the side of the road. It’s not worth compromising your safety, nor the risk of inflicting further damage to an already aggravated engine. After the car is parked and turned off, the next step is to call a reliable and reputable towing company. Their roadside assistance services will get you and your vehicle out of traffic and on its way to a nearby mechanic. This ensures your car is getting the attention it needs to prevent further, more costly damage.

3.     Leave the air conditioning OFF

While it may seem counterintuitive, you should avoid turning on the air conditioning if your car is overheating. Why? This is causing more work for your overworked engine. Turning on the air conditioning will force additional power through the system, increasing the engine temperature even further. In fact, some experts advise that you turn on the heat if your car is overheating. Surprisingly, this could remove some of the heat from the engine and passenger compartment, giving the cooling system a much needed break.

4.     Do not open the hood

You’ve probably seen this in the movies. A couple is driving through the desert, their car starts to smoke, and some beautiful actor saves the day by popping the hood causing an eruption of hot steam. While visually appealing on the big screen, this could actually do more harm than good in real life. Opening the hood forces heat to flow through the engine’s compartments, which could inflict severe damage to your car. Not only that, but you could experience burns and injury from the hot steam or smoke. Before popping the hood, keep an eye on the indicator and allow the temperature to stabilize.

Need a Towing Company?

While you never plan for an overheating engine or vehicle breakdown, it’s important to have a towing company on hand that you can trust. Our team at Mundie’s Towing and Recovery are here to provide superior towing and roadside assistance services. Contact us today!