Keeping up with your car’s routine maintenance goes a long way toward preventing this type of roadside emergency since a lack of coolant is one of the most common reasons for an engine to overheat. However, your car could also overheat due to unforeseen circumstances such as a broken hose. When you see the temperature gauge start to climb, be sure to take these steps to preserve your car and stay safe.
Pull Over Immediately
You should never drive an overheating car since the high temperatures or a lack of fluids could cause serious damage such as a cracked engine block. If you must drive a short distance to find a safe place to park, then turn off the air conditioner in your car to reduce the strain on the engine. You can then turn on the heater to help transfer heat away from the engine. Once you get to a safe parking spot, turn the engine off and make sure that you are visible to other vehicles.
Wait to Open Up the Hood
If your car’s hood has a feature that allows you to open the hood from the inside, then go ahead and pop it to help vent out the heat. If not, then you may need to wait for the engine to cool down before you can safely open up the hood. As you open the hood, watch out for steam or a blast of hot air that could cause a burn. You will also want to use caution when opening the radiator cap. If it feels hot to the touch, then it’s too soon to open it up.
Assess the Situation
Although a car repair company is the best place to get an accurate diagnosis of why your car overheated, you may be able to get a few clues as to what went wrong. Check under the car for leaks, which could indicate a ruptured hose or cracked reservoir. Alternatively, you may notice that a hose is disconnected when you check under the hood. In some instances, such as for a small leak, you may be able to add coolant and drive if your service center is only a short distance away. However, it is usually best to err on the side of caution and call for a tow. This is the only way to be sure that you do not cause further damage to the car.
Repair the Issue
A car doesn’t overheat unless there is a reason. If you acted fast and shut off the engine in time, then you may be fortunate enough to only have to arrange for minor repairs on your vehicle. Keep in mind that even older cars should not overheat if they are in proper condition. Always arrange for your car to be inspected at the auto service center after an overheating incident to make sure that the underlying cause is repaired.
An overheating engine can be a frightening thing to experience as you are driving down the road. Not only will the temperature gauge start to climb, but you may also see smoke or steam emanating from under the hood. By keeping a cool head and getting to a safe place where you can turn off the engine, you can manage the situation in a way that helps preserve your car from further damage.