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What Causes a Car to Overheat?

Monday, August 27 2018 11:29 AM
By 360 Administrator
What Causes a Car to Overheat?

It’s happened to many of us—you’re hitting the highway on your summer road trip and you notice that your temperature gauge is climbing faster than your speedometer. Or maybe the temperature seems okay when you’re driving but starts rapidly climbing when you’re idling.

A car overheating is no joke. Left to continue, it can even cause engine failure. Here are some of the most common reasons cars overheat.

Coolant System Leak

You can usually identify a coolant system leak by noticing a puddle of green, orange or yellow liquid on the ground, underneath where your engine is. Coolant also has a noticeable sweet smell, compared to other fluids your vehicle requires to run.

Coolant leaks can be difficult to diagnose, though, because they can originate from any part of your coolant system: water pump, radiator, hoses or engine block. It’s possible that you’ll be able to see the leak when you pop open the hood by noticing where the steam is coming from, or you might hear a hissing or gurgling noise. If you’re unsure if you have a coolant leak, many vehicles have a coolant reservoir with minimum and maximum-fill lines. If your coolant level is low, you could have a leak in the system.

Coolant System Blockage

Have you been following the regularly scheduled maintenance recommendations for your vehicle? Has your car been sitting for months without being started? Over time, your coolant system can collect debris in the fluid from day-to-day operation. Depending on your climate and conditions, your coolant can also thicken or coagulate while sitting idly. If the coolant contains any debris or clumping, the fluid can collect in the radiator’s fins and pipes, which prevents the coolant from traveling to the engine. This causes your vehicle to overheat.

Water Pump Failure

The water pump’s job is to circulate coolant throughout the coolant system. When the water pump fails, your engine won’t be able to regulate its temperature. If you’re familiar with car engines, you might be able to notice that the belt connected to the water pump stopped turning when your car is on. Another indicator of a broken water pump is a grinding or whining noise coming from under the hood of your car, combined with a rising temperature gauge.

Broken Thermostat

A broken thermostat is one of the most common reasons for overheating vehicles. It’s also one of the easier issues to diagnose. Before overheating, did you notice any crazy movement on your temperature gauge? Is it rapidly shifting from hot to cold? Also, does your car overheat in less than 15 minutes of starting? If so, then your thermostat is probably getting stuck in the open or closed position, which will cause your vehicle to overheat.

Broken Fan

The fan is essential for keeping your engine cool, especially when the weather is hot. To determine if you fan is to blame, open the hood and set the air in your car to cool. If the fan turns on before the car starts to overheat, then the fan isn’t the culprit. However, if the car does overheat and the fan never turns on, then your fan is either wholly or partially to blame.

Has Your Car Been Running A High Temperature?

You wouldn’t let a fever go without being diagnosed, would you? The experts at Scholfield Honda East or West can determine why your car is overheating and get you back on the road in no time. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 316-688-6400.