It’s summertime, and with summer comes unbearable heat. This oppressive heat isn’t just suffocating to humans—it can also suffocate cars. The risk of your car overheating is at its highest in summer. But external temperatures aren’t the only factor that contributes to overheating. Here are some common reasons your engine is overheating and some tips on how to detect it early on.
The thermostat in your car is, in some ways, like your thermostat at home. At home, your thermostat measures the temperature and uses it to decide whether the AC should run.
Your car’s thermostat, on the other hand, is both a temperature measuring device and a valve that controls the flow of coolant. It measures the temperature and uses it to decide whether the valve should open or stay closed. When the engine starts to overheat, the valve opens and sends coolant into the engine to cool it down.
But if the thermostat is broken, it may not register that the engine is overheating and fail to open the valve. This means coolant can’t pass through and cool the engine down, which results in the engine getting hotter and hotter until it eventually fails.
Not Enough Coolant
Another common reason your engine is overheating is a lack of coolant. Coolant, as the name suggests, plays a huge role in keeping your engine cool. It’s a heat transfer fluid that removes heat from the engine to keep it from overheating. But if there isn’t enough coolant in the coolant reservoir, the chances of your engine overheating skyrocket.
Several factors can cause a lack of coolant. This includes blocked coolant passageways, coolant leaks, incorrectly diluted coolant, and even the wrong type of coolant. If you notice a green, orange, pink, or blue puddle under your car, bring it into a mechanic to have it inspected for leaks. Think you might have another problem with the coolant? Your local mechanic can help with that, too.
The radiator is an important part of the engine’s cooling system. Once the coolant has carried heat away from the engine block, it moves to the radiator, where it passes through thin metal fins that transfer the heat outside your car. Sometimes, the radiator also includes a small fan that blows on the coolant to reduce its temperature.
If the radiator is broken, it can result in the coolant not cooling down enough. This, in turn, can lead to overheating. Think the radiator is your culprit? Examine the radiator fan for broken blades or an unstable connection. Both problems can prevent the radiator from doing its job.
How Do I Prevent Overheating?
Regular maintenance can help you detect and fix potential problems with the cooling system. But sometimes, the engine overheats without warning. Installing a pyrometer gauge, which allows you to closely monitor the engine’s temperature, can make it easier to identify early signs of overheating on the road.