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What to do if your car engine overheats

Blog - Used Cars of Bristol

You will usually first be alerted to the fact that your car engine has overheated by flashing lights on your dashboard. At this point, it is essential to pull over and correct the problem. Car engines can overheat for numerous different reasons, but overheating is more than a minor inconvenience: it can severely disrupt the workings of your engine. In grave cases, an overheated engine can catch fire and damage the engine components leading to costly repairs. Follow this guide to prevent this worst case scenario befalling you.

Why do car engines overheat?

Before you can treat your overheated car engine, it is necessary to understand why car engines overheat. Below are the four main causes:

Not enough coolant: low coolant levels will quickly send engine temperatures soaring. This could be caused by the fact that you have been lax about topping your coolant up, or it could be because there is a leak in your coolant system (the latter is a more serious problem). In addition, you need to ensure that the coolant is concentrated: it will not work so well if it is too diluted.
A faulty thermostat, or a thermostat that simply needs tweaking.
Hot weather: all of your engine components may be working just fun, but the sun can heat them up pretty quickly.
A lack of engine oil: oil provides lubrication which prevents friction. Friction between engine components causes them to heat up.

How to fix an overheated engine

Following the discussion above, it is clear that when your engine has overheated, you ought to check the following three aspects of the engine first:

Coolant levels and possible leaks
Engine oil levels
Thermostat faults and settings

If coolant or engine oil is running low, simply top it up and your engine should be fine. Keep some coolant and engine oil tucked away in a ‘repair box’ in the boot of your vehicle for eventualities such as this. If your thermostat is set to the wrong temperature, just tweak it so it’s correct. Any coolant leaks ought to be dealt with instantly – if you feel unable to do this yourself, head straight to a professional mechanic who will be able to deal with it for you. Similarly, a faulty thermostat will need to be assessed by your mechanic as soon as possible. The one thing that you cannot control is the sun: try and avoid driving for long periods in very hot weather, though and you should be fine.

Now you know what to do if your engine overheats

Drivers ought to react immediately to an overheating engine, as what starts as a small problem (for instance coolant that needs to be topped up) can evolve into a large and drastic issue (for instance smoke billowing from your car). Follow the guide above for engine success!

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