How to Deal with Your Car Overheating  | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

How to Deal with Your Car Overheating 

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If your car begins having overheating issues, it could be caused due to an issue in the cooling system. The reason for overheating could be anything from a leak, to a faulty radiator fan, a broken water pump, a clogged coolant hose, or something else altogether. If you find yourself with an overheating car, follow these tips. 

Why Cars Overheat

Unfortunately, there is more than one reason that your car would overheat. The most common reasons your engine might overheat, according to ASC, include that there is a:

  • Coolant leak: this is the most common cause of overheating. The cooling system keeps the engine from getting too hot, however,  if it has a leak, the coolant levels drop and stop doing the job.
  • Improper coolant dilution: when you buy coolant, you can find either premixed solutions or 100% coolant, which you have to mix with water by yourself. Using the wrong coolant or not diluting it properly can cause your car to begin overheating. If this happens to you, it’s best to flush and refill your system. 
  • Bad thermostat: this valve controls coolant flow to the engine. In the winter, the valve stays closed for longer periods of time to help the engine get warm. If it gets stuck in this closed position during the summer, it can quickly overheat. 
  • Blocked passageways: sometimes, even though the thermostat is open, dirt and other debris can block coolant flow, which means it can’t cool the engine. 
  • Radiator malfunction: coolant travels through the radiator to reduce the temperature. Clogs and leaks can cause radiator failure. Further, a worn out fan can also be the reason coolant temperatures are down, which leads to overheating. 
  • Loose belt: the belt is what turns the water pump at the right speed for proper coolant flow. When there’s an issue with the belt, there will be poor coolant flow and hotter temperatures in the engine. 
  • Faulty water pump: the water pump pressurizes and propels coolant through the engine. When it becomes worn or eroded, it can prevent proper coolant flow and the engine can overheat. 

Signs of Overheating 

There are things you can do to cool your engine before it overheats so much that it causes the engine to fail. Firestone mentions that the first signs of overheating to watch out for include:

  • Steam, which can look like smoke coming from under the hood.
  • An engine temperature gauge on your dashboard spiking into the red or to “H”. However, engine temperature symbols can vary from car to car, so look through your owner’s manual to find out what yours is. 
  • A strange smell coming from the engine. 

What to Do when Your Car is Overheating

If you notice your engine is overheating, Firestone offers these tips on what to do: 

Turn off the A/C and turn on the heat: quickly turn off the air condition to reduce stress on the engine. Then, turn the dial to as hot as it will go to help pull heat away from the engine and keep it from overheating until you can pull over. 

Pull over in a safe place: pull over and shut off your car. Let your engine cool for 15 to 20 minutes and keep an eye on the temperature gauge as it will move back to normal as the engine cools. 

Check and add coolant: if you have it on you, add coolant to top it off in your engine to prevent it from overheating until you can get it looked at. However, it is important to note that this won’t work for everyone depending on the cause of the overheating. 

Restart your engine: if your car isn’t being towed, carefully restart your engine and drive to your nearest Scott’s auto. If you notice your engine overheating as you drive towards us, pull over and repeat the process above. 

Call Scott’s Auto

If you are having frequent issues with your car overheating, stop by and see us at Scott’s Auto. With many convenient locations, we are easy to get to — and we are always here for you! 


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