Boiling Point – Why is your Car Overheating?

car-overheatingSuzanne Keane gives a few reasons why your car may be overheating!

1. Coolant – Check your coolant level! This is designed to cool your engine so if it’s not topped up it won’t be doing its job properly. Be wary of topping up with water as this will dilute the effectiveness of your coolant and may freeze in cold weather. It’s also important to use the correct type of coolant – mixing them can cause problems. If your coolant level drops regularly you probably have a leak in the system or have a blown head gasket.

2. Thermostat – Your thermostat opens and closes to allow coolant to flow through. If it locks closed it blocks the circulation of coolant and causes overheating.

You can test a thermostat by removing it from the car and boiling it in a saucepan! If it opens in boiling water it’s ok and if it doesn’t it’s broken! 

3. Water Pump – again if this isn’t working properly it won’t circulate coolant and will cause overheating.

4. Head Gasket – The warning signs of this usually include vanishing coolant and white smoke from the exhaust. The head gasket keeps the oil and coolant in your car separate and when it goes they mix – resulting in a mayonnaise-like effect inside the oil cap.

5. Fan – Usually when your car gets hot the fan will kick in. If this isn’t happening it could be that you have a blown fuse, the radiator switch has stopped working or your radiator has given up.

6. Radiator – Oxidation and sludge over time can block your radiator. Sometimes flushing it out can be a quick fix but otherwise, you’ll need a replacement!

Over time you’ll get to know your cars normal operating temperature. If you see this beginning to rise turn up your heater (and switch off your a/c). If the temperature doesn’t start to drop pull over and switch off the engine – especially if you’re stopped in traffic as your car won’t be getting enough air to cool down anyway so pull into a safe place as soon as you can.

If you do need to top up your coolant make sure the car has completely cooled down first!! Even if you’re sure it’s cooled down enough to open use an oven glove/towel to twist the cap open.

Suzanne Keane

1st March, 2022

Author: Suzanne Keane

A confirmed petrol head with a penchant for retro VW’s, Suzanne has been taking apart (and sometimes putting back together) her own cars for years! You can follow Suzanne on Twitter at @g60girl

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