What to Do if Your Vehicle Overheats

You are driving down the road with your family. Each of you is hugely excited for the day at the beach, enjoying the warm summer, when your engine starts to smoke. You immediately pull over amid the confused and concerned comments of your passengers.

Do you know what to do next, specifically do you know how to handle an overheating vehicle? 
 
If you ever find yourself dealing with an overheated vehicle, we want you to be prepared. Most likely, heat isn’t able to escape the engine, which can be caused by a cooling system leak, damaged radiator fan, broken water pump, or even a clogged coolant hose. 

A few things to note before checking your vehicle's cooling system.

  1. Navigate your vehicle to a safe place before getting out of the vehicle. Freeways and city streets can be very dangerous. If you find yourself stuck in the middle of a freeway, it has been advised not to get out of the vehicle. Call for help and wait for assistance.
  2.  Be very careful when opening your hood. The steam and/or smoke from your vehicle can be very hot and cause severe burns. It's best to keep your face away from the area when you open the hood and use a rag of some sort so you don't burn your hand.
  3.  DO NOT open the radiator cap. This will cause severe burns. The coolant can reach over to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the vehicle completely cool down before opening the cap (that could take easily 2-3 hours.)

The Car Is Overheating, Now What Do I Do? 


If you see steam coming from under your car’s hood, your temperature gauge spiking to ‘H” or the red zone, and you smell a strange smell, you are most likely dealing with an overheating engine. Here is what you should do: 
 

  1. Turn off the A/C and turn on the climate control heat to full. A/C causes stress to your engine, so if you blast the heat, you are pulling heat away from the engine. Do this until you are pulled over in a safe location. 
  2. Find a safe place to pull over as soon as possible. We recommend allowing the engine to cool for at least 15 minutes. To monitor whether or not your engine is cool off, keep an eye on our temperature gauge. (Note: the temperature gauge will only operate when the key is located in the on position, the car doesn't have to be running.)
  3. We always recommend towing your vehicle from the spot where you overheated. Overheating a vehicle can cause severe engine damage which equates to expensive repairs. There are times where if you are very close to a repair shop and feel comfortable driving the vehicle, keep an eye on the temperature gauge and drive in.

If you are close to A+ Japanese Auto Repair in San Carlos, we would love the opportunity to help you. If you are away from the area, look up a local repair shop or ask the tow truck driver for a recommendation. 

Routine preventative maintenance can usually prevent situations like these from occurring. You can keep your vehicle performing safely and securely by visiting the technicians at A+ Japanese Auto Repair in San Carlos. Schedule an appointment - 650-946-1856 | today at A+ Japanese Auto Repair today, and our team will thoroughly examine your vehicle. We are conveniently located at 780 Industrial Road, San Carlos, CA 94070.

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Categories: Car Maintenance
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