You are driving along and see a puff of white billow out from under the hood, smell something funny, or your temperature needle is moving toward the red; all, or just one of these things, likely mean your vehicle is overheating. Today’s vehicles have advanced cooling systems equipped with multiple heat sensors and computer-controlled electric fans designed to keep your engine running in any weather; however, overheating can still occur. Because this is not ideal for any driver, and could cause them to panic, we are going help you answer the question, “What should I do if my vehicle overheats?”.
What causes a vehicle to overheat?
If you are asking yourself, “What should I do if my vehicle overheats?”, you likely have already wondered what is causing your car, truck, or SUV to overheat in the first place. Engines can overheat for various reasons. Typically, an overheated engine is caused by a problem with the vehicle’s cooling system. The issue could be caused by a cooling system leak, faulty radiator fan or bad radiator hose, broken water pump, bad thermostat, clogged coolant hose, a blown head gasket, amongst other things.
Regardless of what is causing your vehicle to overheat, this isn’t a problem that you want to leave unattended. Not addressing the problem right away could lead to serious and permanent damage and you should try to keep your vehicle’s engine in good condition to extend the lifespan of your vehicle.
What are signs that my vehicle may be overheating?
If you can stop an engine from fully overheating and shutting down, that is the best-case scenario. Watch for signs that your vehicle may be overheating so you can get in front of the issue. Things you may notice include:
- Steam (it may resemble smoke) coming from your vehicle’s hood.
- On your dashboard, your engine temperature gauge points to “H” or into the red (consult your owner’s manual because vehicle’s engine temperature gauge symbols vary).
- You notice odd smells or odors originating from the front of the car, truck, or SUV, typically near the hood. Leaking coolant usually has a sweet smell, while oil leaks will typically produce a burnt odor.
What should I do if my vehicle overheats?
The most important things you can do if your vehicle overheats is to not panic and to get off the road.
Let’s review some steps to take if you find yourself with an overheated vehicle:
- Turn off the AC and Turn on the Heat: Using the heater will help to pull in the warm air from the engine. This warm air will disperse into your vehicle, so roll down the windows if needed.
- Pull off the Road: Find a safe place to pull your vehicle off the road and once in that location, turn off the car, truck, or SUV. Allow at least 15 minutes for your engine to cool down and watch your temperature gauge to see if it does.
- Do Not Pop the Hood: You don’t know what you are dealing with under the hood; it can be at extreme temperatures, something can be broken and spray you, etc. Wait the 15 minutes and see if the vehicle cools on its own, this will also allow whatever is the issue under the hood to cool down itself.
- Add Coolant: Most people don’t carry coolant with them, so this step may not be practical for the everyday driver; however, if you have coolant, you can now open your vehicle hood and try to add it. As always, consult your owner’s manual before taking this step, to learn how to properly add coolant to your vehicle.
- Restart Your Vehicle: If it appears that your vehicle has cooled down, now is the time to restart it and to drive to your local Phoenix, AZ automotive repair shop. Be sure to watch for the signs that your vehicle is overheating while you drive, and if you continue to have problems, pull over again and call for a tow.
If you are wondering, “What should I do if my vehicle overheats?”, we recommend contacting us so we can diagnose and fix the issue to keep you safe and get you back on the road.
Advanced Transmissions & Emissions offers free towing within a 30-mile radius of our shop for all major repairs of $1000 or more. If you choose to come to our location, you can find us east of Interstate 17. We are located on Bell Rd., just east of the Home Depot and west of the Piestewa Freeway better known as the 51.
Don’t sleep on your car problems; they can get worse. Visit us today or fill out our online form for service.