Overheating Car Symptoms – What are 10 Common Causes of Overheating

Overheating automobiles is one of the most prevalent issues faced by drivers and car owners. The car’s cooling system is subjected to high temperatures and high pressures all the time, resulting in material and component fatigue. Used cars are more likely to have this issue.

This article will help you figure out are 10 common causes of overheating and will assist you to discover a solution.

Engine Coolant System – Why is it Important?

Engine Coolant System - Why is it Important
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The internal combustion engine generates a lot of heat while it’s operating. The engine would overheat and be destroyed if the coolant system wasn’t in place to keep it cool.

As a result, appropriate engine cooling and lubrication are equally critical.

Overheating Car Symptoms

Overheating Car Symptoms
gtautomotive.com
  • The first and most noticeable indicator is when the thermometer’s needle begins moving quickly over the center. The best approach to avoid engine damage is to keep an eye on the temperature gauge while driving.
  • Loss of power: as soon as the automobile begins to overheat, you’ll realize that it is losing power. The temperature of the engine rises at the same time.
  • Most automobiles have a dashboard indicator light that alerts drivers to overheating.
  • Yes, exactly like in the movies, steam is emitted from the engine compartment. When an automobile becomes too hot, this is the last thing. If you keep driving despite the overheating issue, this might happen.
  • When this occurs, the engine has already experienced a significant amount of heat damage. Take a break from the road and open the hood to allow the engine to cool down before returning to the road.

Overheating Car Damage

Overheating Car Damage
gtautomotive.com

If you take action in a timely manner, it’s likely that nothing will happen. Fortunately, the car’s engine has a brief tolerance for this condition, and if you respond quickly enough, the damage will be minimal or non-existent.

The engine will be severely damaged if you continue to operate it for an extended period of time while it is overheating.

The cost and difficulty of replacing each component of the cooling system vary greatly (depending on the model, accessibility, vintage, etc). For example, a very inexpensive and easily replaced automotive component might result in significant engine damage.

To describe serious damage, we would use the term “blown head gasket,” which would require the engine to be opened. In any case, it is an expensive and time-consuming fix.

Most of the time, an engine overhaul is caused by a cheap part that breaks, like a hose that leaks.

No matter what happens, if you notice that your automobile is overheating, you should stop roadside and let it cool down. There are times when you may even be able to fix the problem on your own (like a loose clamp or broken hose).

Your engine and wallet will thank you if you pay attention to and avoid an overheated automobile.

What are 10 common causes of overheating?

The following are the 10 most common reasons for car overheating problems:

1. Too High or Too Low Engine Coolant Level

Too High or Too Low Engine Coolant Level
mechanicbase.com

This is one of the most common reasons for your car’s overheating.

This may happen for many reasons, including a loose cover on the coolant reservoir, minor or undetectable leaks, or poor coolant quality that evaporates over time.

Adding too much coolant to the system results in an increase in pressure.

Car overheating is caused by additional pressure as well.

When the engine coolant level is between the lowest and maximum, the system pressure is normal (the middle mark).

Everything should be OK if you do frequent coolant system inspections. If necessary, add some coolant to the center of the reservoir.

Adding coolant often indicates that there is an issue with the system, such as a leak.

The sooner you deal with it, the less time and money it will cost you in the long run.

2. Coolant Hose Leaks

Coolant Hose Leaks
rav4world.com

This is another typical reason for engine overheating.

Hoses become brittle and lose their suppleness over time as a result of exposure to extreme temperatures and hostile environments (small cracks and ruptures start to appear). This ultimately leads to coolant leaks and overheating in the vehicle.

Preventing coolant hose leaks is the best way to deal with them.

The best approach to ensuring that all of the engine coolant hoses are still elastic and flexible is to conduct an annual check.

Just give the hose a little squeeze or bend to observe if any fractures appear on the surface. When the hose has small cracks, it is getting close to the end of its useful life and should be replaced right away.

3. Loose Hose Clamps

Loose Hose Clamps
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Overheating is a possible cause of engine failure.

The clamps tend to loosen or possibly break with time, owing to the strain they are under.

A clamp’s grip is also weakened when the hose it holds in place shrinks, making the clamp ineffective over time.

An overheating car is the result of a leaky hose. It’s easy to fix this issue by purchasing the same coolant pipe and the same clamp size.

4. Broken Thermostat

Broken Thermostat
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When it comes to thermostats, they are like a valve that automatically adjusts to the temperature of the coolant.

As part of the cooling system, it has the ability to restrict or let coolant flow. The thermostat is closed while the engine is cold, preventing heat from entering the system. As a result, the engine warms up faster.

Once the engine reaches operating temperature, the thermostat opens and lets the engine coolant flow freely through the system.

When the thermostat has a problem, it becomes stuck (it is unable to stop or release the coolant flow).

If you own a vehicle with a lot of miles, you’re going to run into this issue at some point.

To change it is no bother and it is not expensive at all.

5. Thermal Switch on the Radiator

Thermal Switch on the Radiator
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A thermal switch is an electronic switch that is activated by changing the temperature of the cooling fluid. This switch turns on the radiator fan when the temperature of the coolant reaches the maximum safe level.

If you’ve ever used an iron, you’re familiar with thermal switches.

The fan is essential to reduce coolant temperature when the radiator airflow is limited (as in city driving).

Over time, the thermal switch might malfunction owing to material degradation and fail to turn on the fan. Coolant temperature rises, which finally causes engine overheating.

Thermal switch replacement is the only solution to these issues, and no improvisations are conceivable. To find the switch, look for a large screw with a wire connection protruding from it on the radiator of the vehicle.

A simple screw-in/screw-out procedure is all that is required to replace it. However, access to the switch itself may prove a challenge. It might be a hassle to change because of the configuration of most engine bays. It’s not impossible, but it’s inconvenient.

6. Broken Water Pump

Broken Water Pump
cartreatments.com

The water pump in a car’s engine keeps the coolant flowing. The water pump is belt-driven, so it begins pumping coolant into the engine as soon as the vehicle is started.

In essence, it’s a turbine powered by an engine.

Improper impeller fins or worn bearings are two of the most common causes of a water pump breakdown. In this instance, the only option is to replace the water pump as a whole.

However, with previous models, this was much easier to do. Outside of the engine, the water pump was attached to a separate ribbed V-belt that drove it. You wouldn’t need to do anything major to fix a broken water pump.

Because of the current design of today’s engines, this is usually not achievable.

The camshaft timing belt drives the water pump in todays and even most used autos.

In other words, the water pump is intertwined with the timing belt, and its failure might have severe consequences for the engine.

Whenever you replace the camshaft timing belt often, your water pump will be replaced too.

If the water pump is put in the right way, with high-quality parts, and backed by a warranty, it should never break.

If you change the timing belt when it’s supposed to be done, use high-quality parts and a reputable mechanic, and you should be able to avoid this issue.

7. Cracked or Clogged Car Radiator

Cracked or Clogged Car Radiator
cartreatments.com

The primary function of a vehicle radiator is to reduce the engine coolant temperature.

The coolant removes the heat from the engine and is cooled by the airflow once it reaches the radiator. The radiator is constantly refilled with coolant.

Radiator fins and tiny pipes get blocked over time as a result of several types of dirt and grime. As a result, the radiator will be able to cool down less effectively.

You’ll know if the radiator is damaged by the leaks that form around it and the amount of coolant that is drained from the system. The engine will overheat in this case.

Radiator cleaning and total replacement are the two most common solutions to this problem.

In the event of a blockage, flushing the interior of the radiator may be used to clean it. A decent pressure wash generally takes care of the outside cleaning. We can only suggest a total replacement in the event of a crack.

It’s feasible to fix or improvise, but it’s usually just temporary.

It’s a difficult task, largely because of accessibility concerns, to do either a replacement or a cleaning. It requires a lot of disassembly in most current vehicles.

8. Clog in the Engine Coolant System

Clog in the Engine Coolant System
liveabout.com

The engine coolant system relies heavily on a smooth and uninterrupted flow of coolant. Over time, coolant might get blocked in different hoses, the radiator, the engine block, etc.

We can tell you for sure that this is an issue that occurs less often since it takes time to build up. For example, using tap water rather than coolant (which promotes scale buildup), utilizing some form of “remedy” (particularly when the radiator leaks), or employing tiny diameter pipes that are more likely to get blocked.

Also, using low-quality coolants could be dangerous, since high-quality coolants have ingredients that help keep pipes from getting clogged.

When it comes to clogs, it’s always best to be cautious than sorry.

Don’t use tap water in the cooling system. Instead, use quality coolant, as the manufacturer suggests.

Replace the old coolant and clean the engine fully if the blockage is in the engine canals.

9. Damaged or Cracked Heater Core

Damaged or Cracked Heater Core
rxmechanic.com

This is a condition that seldom arises and is more often seen in older vehicles.

In addition to the engine radiator, another smaller radiator is also used to cool down the engine coolant.

The radiator’s main job, unlike that of the engine radiator, is to keep the passenger area warm.

The heater core heats the cabin by circulating hot coolant through it, which is then expelled through the cabin ventilator.

Due to the fact that heater cores are located in the passenger cabin, breakdowns are less common. Due to wear and use, it may begin to leak or get clogged.

You’ll know about this problem because coolant leaks into the passenger area before the engine start to overheat.

It’s not that difficult to get a new one. The more difficult part is actually getting to it in the first place. Some of the reasons this breakdown is so difficult to include a lot of trim disassemblies, awkward working postures, and tight locations.

When it comes to this particular situation, we would only advocate replacing the heater. Repairing the old heater is not recommended unless it is an extremely rare automobile type and the cabin heater is difficult to get.

10. Damaged or Blown Head Gasket

Damaged or Blown Head Gasket
cartreatments.com

Engines have a main seal that fits perfectly between the engine block and the cylinder head.

There would be no way the engine could run without it. Oil and coolant would pour everywhere and the engine will lose compression in the cylinders as soon as the vehicle was started.

In addition to leaking, oil and coolant get contaminated when the head gasket fails. This is because the gasket acts as a barrier between the liquids and the engine block channels through which they travel.

Persistent overheating (less, in the beginning, more as the gasket sealing deteriorates) is one of the symptoms of this problem.

However, the most obvious sign is the presence of a foamy material within the coolant reservoir. This is the consequence of the engine oil and coolant mixing together.

The issue will get worse with time if you continue to drive at the current degree of overheating.

When it comes to this repair, it will cost you a lot of money since you’ll have to open the engine. You’ll simply end up incurring extra costs if you put off this repair any longer.

Make sure to get a repair estimate if you’re driving a pre-owned vehicle. There are many situations when the repair is not worth the effort.

10 Ways to Prevent Car From Overheating

We’ve put together a list of measures to keep your vehicle from overheating:

1. Park the car in the shade

Both you and your automobile will notice a change in temperature between being in the shade and being in the sun. Additionally, parking under a tree might help extend the life of your vehicle. Is there nowhere to hide? Reduce the temperature in your vehicle by using a sunshade.

2. Use car window shades

It’s a good idea to have window shades in the vehicle since you never know where you’ll be able to park. They will keep the inside of your vehicle cool and shelter it from the harmful effects of the sun, all while keeping it from overheating. Alternatively, you may want to look into custom-made window blinds that are specifically created to match your automobile model. These shades are better at blocking out the sun’s rays. 

3. Tint your windows

Having your car’s windows tinted or covered with window film may help keep it cooler and protect it from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

4. Leave car windows slightly open

The glass in closed windows acts as a conductor, increasing the temperature of the enclosed area. If you have a sunroof, break it open as well to allow the air to circulate. A gap wide enough for a person to squeeze through should be avoided. Do observe the weather if you leave your windows open.

5. Turn on the floor air vents

To start the air moving, most people open the car’s air vents on the dashboard. But it’s best to use the floor vents to distribute the air. To get rid of the warm air, open the bottom vents and crank up the blower to its highest level. As soon as the automobile has cooled down, you may open the top air vents once again.

6. Use the fresh air setting

For around 10 minutes, turn on your air conditioner and allow it to run on fresh air. Turning on the recirculation mode will only move the hot, trapped air around.

7. Observe the car temperature gauge

The temperature needle mounted on the dashboard should always be pointed toward the center of the gauge. Pull aside, switch off the car’s engine, and let the vehicle cool down if the temperature gauge indicates it’s becoming warm.

8. Clog in the Engine Coolant System

This is particularly critical during the sweltering summer months. Open the hood to check your coolant level. Indicators on the reservoir display the coolant level. If the coolant level is too low, just add the correct quantity and reinstall the cap. Water and coolant mixtures are common in engine coolant.

Never add engine coolant when the engine is hot as a safety precaution. Before removing the cap or adding coolant, let the engine cool completely.

9. Have your radiator flushed

You will have to replace the engine coolant even if you maintain the correct amounts. This procedure, also known as flushing the radiator, includes emptying out old coolant, flushing the radiator with flush fluid, and refilling it with fresh coolant. Mechanics suggest flushing your system every 40,000 miles, but the manufacturer’s advice should be found in your owner’s handbook.

10. Replacing your car battery

Cars that have had their batteries for more than three years will have to work harder and risk overheating since the battery cannot provide the same amount of power it previously did. It is possible that a new battery is needed, and your technician can assist you in determining this.

What to do if your vehicle overheats?

What to do if your vehicle overheats
cartreatments.com

In the event your automobile overheats, take these steps:

  • Stop your vehicle immediately on the roadside, park it, and switch off the engine. Let your automobile cool down for at least 10 minutes before getting in.

  • Turn on your air conditioning so that you can cool down immediately.

  • Turn the ignition switch to the first position (do not start the engine) when the automobile has cooled down. Try starting the engine if the temperature gauge shows a reasonable range and the engine fluid levels are enough.

  • If your vehicle won’t start or is making strange noises, it’s best to contact roadside assistance and have it towed. This will enable a mechanic to assess and fix the vehicle.

Final Words

The best practice is to avoid overheating. Despite the fact that overheating might be unavoidable in certain situations, there are actions you can do to prevent it.

Excessive heat is bad for your automobile, in general. Before leaving the home, make sure the car’s coolant or antifreeze is full. An overheated vehicle may damage a wide range of components including Welds and sensors; seals; electrical wiring; belts and pumps.

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