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Why is My Car Overheating: 5 of the Top Solutions and More

why is my car overheating

Why is my car overheating? For new car owners, this question is quite prevalent. Honestly, there are a lot of reasons why your vehicle could heat up unexpectedly. Of course, this phenomenon is caused by something. It could be an internal problem on your system. It could also be due to the external temperature that roughly affects the state of your vehicle.

Even seasoned drivers are not safe from this predicament. Once overheating occurs, these car owners would also heat up due to agitation and confusion. Well, in the back of their heads, they know that there is something wrong in their vehicle.

On the worst-case scenario, a heated car would produce steam from the hood. Meanwhile, the warning systems on the dashboard of the car would blink and flash rapidly. It is a troubling thing, considering that the problem might require you to spend for an expensive repair.

What is Car Overheating?

what is car overheating

It is not a secret that heat is among the antagonistic elements that your car’s engine faces every single day. The damage that it can cause can be severe. Sometimes, it might even compel you to replace the damaged parts, if repairs would not give a suitable remedy.

The optimal working condition of the engine is at a moderate temperature. Even though it is too hot for your hands to touch, the engine is “cold” as long as your vehicle as a cooling system. On the contrary, car overheating happens when the engine temperature cranks up to a degree in where mechanical disruptions are already plausible.

Specifically, you can say that an engine is overheating when it has a temperature that exceeds 240 degrees Fahrenheit. You can know that your car is suffering from such problem if you can see visible steam sprouting out from the hood of your vehicle. You could also detect such concerns if your temperature barometer is at the critical zone already.

Why is My Car Overheating?

Many factors could cause the overheating of vehicles. The culprit should be the lack of air circulation. But of course, the issue could still stem from other causes. Here are some of them:

Leaks in the Cooling System – Let’s be straight. Leakages in the car’s cooling system are not the direct cause of overheating. Instead, these leaks are broad and open holes to where air can breach into the cooling system. When there are leaks, the level of cooling drops significantly. When this happens, any existing will go into the system.

Because air is light and the coolant is heavy, the former usually rises in the system. This movement causes the phenomenon called airlock. Specifically, the latter is a massive bubble that cannot circulate in the cooling system. It acts like a stumbling block that hampers the movement of coolant in the engine. Overheating is the final result of that.

Blockage – Another issue that could cause overheating is a blockage. Aside from the air bubble, there are also other forms of obstructions that prevent the circulation of coolants. Once the coolant cannot move through the radiator for heat dispersion, the engine typically overheats. These are some of the known obstructions in the cooling system:

  • Thermostat doesn’t function properly
  • Accumulation of minerals that blocks the radiator
  • Trapped objects in the cooling system

Dysfunctional Water Pump – Most of the time, water pumps are the most common cause for car overheating (that is when they do not function correctly). In the cooling system, the water pump is the workhorse. It consistently operates to ensure that the coolant can circulate well.

Of course, the quality of the water pump is not designed to last forever. It will wear down eventually. Once the impeller of the water pump malfunctions, coolant circulation won’t be regulated anymore. It will not take time before your engine starts to overheat.

Coolant Concentration – We mentioned earlier that heat is the main enemy of your car’s engine. However, when the temperature is too cold (below freezing point), the concentration of the coolant reduces. Once it happens, the cooler would coagulate and emulsify to the radiator or the engine. Apparently, the coolant gel will become a blockage.

Do not think that overheating doesn’t happen in cold climate. It could still occur. In fact, the damage could be massive, as it might require you to repair or replace your car radiator immediately.

How to Prevent Overheating

Aside from the cooling system, one component that reduces the heat of your engine is the oil. It has a critical role in preserving the optimal working temperature of your car’s engine. Specifically, the motor oil prevents any friction from happening by lubricating all the essential engine parts. Friction is also a known cause of overheating.

Therefore, it is entirely necessary that you have to replace the engine oil of your car regularly. In this way, you can ensure that things would be sailing smoothly on your part.

Also, take note that some manufacturers integrated specialized coolers for engine oil in their cars. Specifically, these coolers function like radiators. They process the hot oil so that its heat would be regulated before it will return to the engine.

Meanwhile, here are some other things that you can do to stop overheating from happening:

  • Avoid parking in hot areas. Your car is prone to overheating when the weather is sweltering. Some vehicles have defense mechanisms to alleviate the temperature. But of course, it doesn’t mean that it can go all the time efficiently. In fact, well-tuned vehicles are still susceptible for overheating. Therefore, it is pretty essential that you have to park in an area where there is enough shade to cover your car. If you have no choice but to park in a spot that exposes the car from the heat of the sun, make it quick. Do not let your vehicle bathe from high-degree temperatures for a long time. It would certainly stress out the engine.
  • Always flush the cooling system of your car regularly. The interval should follow the manufacturer’s instruction. You could also do this if you notice that the cooling system is accumulating dirt already.
  • When you notice that there are leaks in the system, have an automotive technician to fix them as quickly as possible.
  • Be always wary of the temperature gauge of your vehicle. If the indicator goes into the red zone, then you should park somewhere shaded and turn the engines immediately. That will prevent any further damages from causing.

What to Do When the Car Starts to Overheat

what to do if your car overheats

Here are the things that you should do once your car starts to overheat:

Shut Down the Engine

If your vehicle began to overheat while you are on the road, park to a nearby place and turn off the engine. After this, open the hood so that the engine will start to cool on its own. Also, you need to open the window of your car while you shut down the air conditioner.

Avoid Removing the Radiator Cap

You should do this at all cost. Taking off the cap of the water system or radiator is dangerous. Once the engine has overheated, it is natural that they contain pressure. If you remove the cap, you might burn yourself badly.

Turn the Blower and Heater

If the overheating persists, you need to turn the car’s heater and blower. By doing this, you are transferring the heat coming from the engine to the vehicle compartment.

Shift to Neutral

If you suddenly stopped in the middle of the road due to overheating, you need to shift the gears of your car to Park or Neutral. It will make the fan and water pump function faster. As a result, it will help liquid and air circulate to the radiator at an optimal rate. It would eventually aid in the cooling of the engine.

Don’t Mash the Brakes

Dragging the brakes will just put pressure on the engine and will just add to the heat that it experiences. If you are stuck on a crawling traffic, make sure that you will only move when the distance between you and your front vehicle is large already.


If you are still confused why your car is overheating, you better let the professionals handle the troubleshooting for you. They will run some diagnostic tests to check any errors that could be at fault for the overheating. It might cost you some fortune, but it will certainly stop overheating from taking place.

Of course, the adage “prevention is better than cure” is always applicable on this matter. If you want to avoid undergoing such pesky predicaments, you have to follow the guidelines that we have given you. Being a responsible car owner will always reap you enormous benefits in the long run. Conduct proper maintenance and ensure that your vehicle is well-tuned every single time you ride it.

If you have any questions, comments, and suggestions, just drop them down in the box below. We will be waiting. And hey, drive safely!

Steven K. Galloway