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What to Do if Your Car Overheats

What to Do if Your Car Overheats

It's finally summer and time to enjoy some freedom and the open road. While this is the moment you've likely been waiting for after those brutal winter months, balmy weather can come with its own challenges, and a car overheating is definitely one of them. It is at the top of the list of reasons for automotive breakdowns and can be an unbelievable inconvenience.

Thankfully, it is also easily preventable with proper and consistent monitoring. The experts in the North York Chrysler Service Centre want to help you avoid the trouble and damage that an overheating vehicle can cause.

Embrace the summer heat and keep a cool head by handling an overheating car with these simple steps. From taking care of the issue on the spot to determining if you need a mechanic, here's what to do.

Be Prepared

An overheating car can be a huge stress and big expense, but a little foresight goes a long way in averting disaster. Keep extra water bottles in your car to keep hydrated in emergencies, and as you'll see in the steps below, some extra water for your radiator can help to get things running smoothly at least long enough to make it to the mechanic.For issues of overheating and beyond, keep your vehicle regularly maintained.

Check coolant levels every 1,600 km or every month, whichever comes first.
Check your hoses for unusual cracks or bulges each month.
Try to keep to a strict maintenance schedule. Each Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM, and Fiat has a specific maintenance plan, which you can find in your owners manual. This includes regular belt and hose inspections, cooling, and system flushes. You can do these things quickly at our MOPAR Express Lane.

Always do all of the above before taking a long trip, because nothing is worse than running into trouble far from home.  A little extra coolant stored in your trunk is never a bad idea. Most cars need equal parts water and coolant to run, so if your car is on the verge of a meltdown, you'll be able to remedy the problem and get back to your trip even faster with some coolant.

Knowing Your Engine is Overheating

It's not a surprise that higher summer temperatures put a great deal of strain on your cooling system. Because it has to work harder, if it not in peak condition you risk overheating your engine.

It's an all-too familiar scenario: standstill traffic, sweltering heat, honking horns, and your glowing engine light due to too much heat when all you want is to be at your destination, ice cream in hand. While it can also happen in colder weather, heat outside means more heat inside your vehicle. There are some very clear, and some subtle, warning signs that your engine is in the process of overheating.

Temperature gauge is high
Temperature light is on
Steam is coming from under the hood
Unusual noise and a sudden loss of powe

Troubleshooting While in Traffic

An overheated vehicle may seem like a dire situation, but these tips will help you prevent damage to your car, keep a cool head, and get things moving.

If there is steam coming from your vehicle you need to get off the road AT ONCE. This level of heat can cause permanent damage to your engine.
If it's not too bad yet, turn the air conditioner off and roll your windows down. This helps you avoid engine damage and further overheating
Turn your heater on full blast. This fight-fire-with-fire method is admittedly not the most comfortable for your passengers, but the rush of heat into your car means a rush of heat away from the engine.
If possible, put some distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will allow for a stronger outside airflow increasing heat dissipation.
if you're stuck in traffic, shift to park or neutral and rev the engine. This increases the water pump and fan speed and creates circulation throughout the radiator.
If the pace is stop-and-go, opt for the crawl method rather than alternating between gas and brakes. Braking increases engine work and creates heat.

Step-by-Step on the Shoulder

If your overheating car can't get cool enough with the tips mentioned above, it's best to pull over and let the engine cool. Cars with an electronic system automatically lose power when overheated.  Signal, pull over in a safe spot, turn the engine off, and follow the next steps.

1.    Let things cool. An overheated engine can take around 30 minutes to somewhat cool down on a hot day, so patience is key. If you can pop your hood from inside your car, go ahead and pull the lever. Lifting the hood can help make the process go faster and warn those around you, you are in distress.  If you have to touch the hood of your car to get the hood up, wait until the metal surface has cooled and use a cloth to protect your hands.

2.    Assess the situation. Is anything smoking? Can you see a drip or puddle underneath your car that could indicate a leak in your coolant tank? Once you can see under the hood, check for any apparent damage. If your car seems like it needs more than a quick fix, it's best to leave it to the professionals and have it towed to the nearest mechanic.

3.    Prepare to cool with water.  Again, make sure your engine is sufficiently cooled before getting under the hood. This is important not only for your safety but also because a hot radiator can crack with cool water. Plus, water evaporates quickly in high temperatures, which could be a big problem if your water supply is limited. If your engine has been cooling for a while, take a cloth and use it to lift the bonnet to air things out even more. Never attempt to open the radiator cap while the engine is still hot/steaming. This can easily lead to severe burns.

4.    Fill the water tank.  Most of these plastic tanks are transparent or white and connect by a hose to the radiator. Use your cloth to loosen the radiator cap by unscrewing it slowly to incrementally release the pressure. Once the pressure is released, remove the cap, add the water, screw the cap on, and close the bonnet.

5.    If you see your coolant tank is full, the overheating is due to another problem such as a leaky hose, broken fan belt, faulty water pump, or miscalculating thermostat. The smartest move in this situation is to have your car towed to a mechanic for diagnosis.

The summer is a time of relaxation and exhilaration, so we hope these tips can keep your road trips rolling even with an overheating car. One last option for ensuring a cool, healthy car is to swing by our dealership and pick out a new vehicle in top shape. We wish you a happy summer and safe travels!

Don't let your car overheat! Schedule a service appointment with us today!" href="https://www.northyorkchrysler.ca/service/service-appointment-request.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Don't let your car overheat! Schedule a service appointment with us today!

Categories: Service & Maintenance Tips