What to Do if Your Vehicle Overheats
Hot Weather; Hot Vehicles
Summertime and the living’s easy. While the heat may be nice when you are taking a dip in the pool, it’s not great for your car. Even with regular maintenance, things can go wrong and your vehicle can go from maintaining a safe temperature, to overheating really quickly.
If you notice the temperature creeping up past the safe zone, or if you get an alert on your dashboard that you’re running too hot, will you know what to do? To avoid major damage, and to avoid getting into a wreck when the thing shuts down completely, we have outlined the steps that you need to take so you can safely get your rig back to drivable condition.
Why Your Engine is Overheating
Your engine runs on internal combustion. That means there are tiny explosions with fire to help propel you forward; those fires are hot. To combat the issue of overheating there are a few engineering marvels to help keep things cool: radiators, pumps, airflow, fans etc. If you start to overheat, something has gone wrong with one of these components.
The most common cause is that there is a leak somewhere. It might be in the radiator, it might be in the hoses, and it might be in the coolant reservoir. Wherever it is, it needs patched.
Alternatively, one of the mechanical devices may have gone out. The fan may not be fanning, the pump may not be pumping, or the doodad may not be doing.
The bottom line is the same: it needs fixed!
Kill the AC; Blast the Heat
Your air conditioner keeps it nice and comfy inside for you. But it’s a tremendous strain on the engine. Alternatively, the heater pulls heat off the engine and blows it inside. It’s not going to be a pleasant and comfortable ride anymore, but blasting the heater will help to draw the heat away from the engine.
Pull Over to a Safe Spot
When it’s safe to do so, coast into a safe parking spot. If you can find a place that’s in the shade, that will help even more. As we know, our Montana sun can put off some heatwaves when you’re stuck without any shelter! Kill the engine and put a stop to those tiny explosions.
Wait for it to Cool
Before you pop the hood and shove your hands under there to find the release lever, give it a few minutes to cool. It’s going to take a while when it’s over 90 degrees out, but it’s safer than immediately throwing the hood open.
After a few minutes, pop the hood and wait a little longer. Then find the release lever and prop the whole thing up so that pent up hot air can escape.
Check the Coolant Reservoir
Your first check is the coolant reservoir. If it’s bone dry, there’s a chance that you have a leak somewhere (or you haven’t had a tune up in quite some time). Now is not the time to pop the cap off the radiator unless you want third degree burns and hot steam blasting you in the face. Instead, drop down and see if you can see any coolant leaking onto the ground.
If convenient, top off the reservoir with antifreeze (coolant) so you can get to your destination. If not, wait even longer.
Drive to Your Mechanic when Cool
Your engine can run for a short period of time before it naturally gets too hot and the metal will start warping. If you can’t have the vehicle towed, then wait until it’s cool and drive to your mechanic. Just be ready to shut it down again if the temp starts to spike.
Big Sky Collision Center Does Auto Body Repair
Here at Big Sky Collision Center, we focus on auto body repairs. Want to know the best way to avoid needing our services? Make sure that your vehicle is well maintained.
If you do get in an accident, whether it’s your fault or not, then give us a call at 406-259-6328 and we will get you scheduled for repairs.