What do I do if my car overheats?

Things You Need To Know If Your Car Overheats

A long summer road trip, climbing up a grade, 100 degrees outside, car loaded up with luggage… this is a recipe for an overheating car! There are a few things you can do to stop your car from overheating. We are going to share four of them with you.

1. Be Aware Of Your Car’s Temperature Gauge -

When the temperature gauge is resting half way between hot and cold, this is perfect (which is between 190-215*F or xx-xx*C). Any time the gauge exceeds that temperature, your car is starting to overheat. 

You’ll want to glance at the gauge periodically and definitely more often when you are climbing, going faster than 70 mph, towing, or have a fully loaded car.

If the gauge is creeping up or if you have any warning that the car is overheating, read below on what to do. 

2. Turn Off The Air Conditioning -

The car’s air conditioning compressor typically operates by drawing power from the vehicle’s engine. The engine is also propelling your car on the road. So, if you take away the additional load of the air-conditioning, the engine has less work to do and will allow it to cool down.

As an example, if you ever exercise really hard, you start to pant, your heart rate goes up, and you may start to sweat. But imagine the same exercise with 20% less weight. Your breathing will slow, heart rate will go down, and you will sweat less (effectively cooling you down.)

3. Turn On Your Heater - 

Now this may seem crazy to do on a hot day but you need to do it. The heater is operated by using a small radiator inside the car, we call it the heater core. The heater core uses the engine coolant to heat itself and has a fan mounted behind it. When you turn on the fan, it uses the heat from the small radiator and transfers it to the cabin air. 

So here is the deal, turn the heater on, turn the fan on high, and roll down all your windows! Also important, leave the mode on face or feet but not on defrost (this will cause the A/C to turn back on. You should be able to see the temperature gauge drop over the next minute of driving. Leave the heater on as long as you need to until the temperature gauge goes back to the center.

4. Slow Down - 

Be careful with this. You don’t want to be a hazard on the road but there is no reason to damage your car by overheating the engine. Slow down about 20% from whatever speed you are going and watch your temperature gauge. 

I would recommend to keep some sort of speed above 45 mph which allows wind to blow through your radiator and cool the engine. However, if the car continues to heat up, pull over to a safe place and turn the engine off. 

If the above tactics don’t help you keep your car from overheating, you probably have lost some coolant or have a restriction in the cooling system. That is when you need to get your car towed to your local independent repair shop. 

Written by Eric Sevim | A+ Japanese Auto Repair, Inc. | 780 Industrial Road, San Carlos CA 94070

www.aplusjapaneseautorepair.com | 650-595-2277


Disclaimer: This article is provided for general informational purposes only.  It is not intended as advice for your particular vehicle, and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  Please consult a qualified automotive maintenance professional to determine the maintenance and repair needs for your vehicle.

Categories: Car Maintenance
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