Modern cars use high-level systems (with various sensors) to keep engines properly cooled. However, the engine remains an area of extreme heat and friction, so it can still overheat if conditions allow. Prevention–through routine maintenance–will always lower the chances your engine will stress out and overheat. In fact, keeping up with oil changes, wear-and-tear parts, and other fluids is the number one way to keep your vehicle protected. Should your engine overheat, despite these efforts, here are some tips for managing the worst-case scenario.
Have Supplies Handy
Keeping your car stocked with a few key items can save you in several unsavory situations. These necessities include:
- A towel
- Several quarts of motor oil
- Heavy-duty gloves
- A basic tool kit.
Pull Over When Possible
If the engine overheats, getting away from other vehicles is the first course of action, but try not to panic. Instead, slow down when you can and look for an out-of-the-way spot to let the car cool down.
Turn on the Heater
Although it might seem counterintuitive, engaging the heater pulls heat away from the engine and into the cabin. Actually, this step might be all it takes to get temperatures back in balance.
At this point, you can decide if you want to wait it out or call a professional. Sometimes giving the engine about 15 minutes to recover can help you avoid unnecessarily towing it to a shop. Note: If you choose to wait, always keep the hood closed. Your car’s internal temperature has maximized, and steam or water can spray if you open the hood.
If turning on the heater didn’t fix the issue and the engine didn’t cool during the allotted 15 minutes, you can try adding coolant. To do this, give the hood a tap to make sure it isn’t too hot. When you feel comfortable, put on the gloves and open the hood.
Next, locate the radiator cap (the owner’s manual will help) and–using the towel–push down on it lightly before turning it (pressure that has built up should release). Now you can remove the cap and add coolant until it reaches the “full” mark. You should also add coolant to the plastic overflow reservoir.
Finally, reattach the cap and start the engine. If the warning light turns off and the temperature gauge reads normal, everything should be good to go. Even so, proceed cautiously.
Drive to the Nearest Service Station
Although adding coolant will allow you to drive short distances, you still don’t know what caused the vehicle to overheat. For that, a trained technician should evaluate the vehicle’s engine and cooling system.
For all your car’s repair and maintenance needs, call the experts at Autobahn Automotive in Sea Girt, NJ at 732-363-5552 today!