Everyone Dreads an Overheating Car…

Nobody likes an overheated car.

They cause you headaches, leave you all sweaty (literally), and cause you to fork out loads of cash just to fix the problem.

Worst of all, they catch you completely off guard.

What’s more, it even adds to your stress while you’re driving – as you pray that traffic breaks enough for you to get some air flowing through the radiator, so that the engine temperature needle can go down even just a little bit.

There’s nothing worse than having stressful drivers on the road.

Don’t be one of them.

By knowing the symptoms, you can then know the antidotes to give to your car, with some of them not costing you much.

A full wallet + A healthy car = A happy you


Unclog Your Radiator

If you’ve been loyal to your car for quite some time now (say, with over 50,000 miles on it), your radiator may not function properly due to it being filled with gunk from all that mileage over the years.

Yes, father time can be cruel even to your car, but with the right strategies you can avoid this completely.

Flushing your radiator is the simple solution to this – it takes just a little bit of time, and can be done once every year. Considering how much money, time and heartache it saves you in the long run, I say this should be a staple ritual for your car maintenance procedure.

By flushing your radiator, this ensures that it never gets clogged up to the point of overheating.

Replace Your Fan Belt

Some of the newer model cars may not have a fan belt driving your engine cooling fans (yes, I’m looking at you electric guys), but if you do, a broken fan belt may be the cause of your overheating.

It may also mean that other parts of your engine aren’t working properly. If this is the case, fortunately for you, fan belts are very easy and cheap to get replaced/fixed.

They’re fairly easy and obvious to spot, and if you’re one of the guys with an older model car, you should know the inside of your hood like the back of your hand by now, and easily spot where the fault lies.

Check Your Coolant Level

This should actually be the first step you need to take when faced with overheating issue. More often than not, a low coolant level is the leading cause of most overheating problems.

Simply put, your engine’s cooling system relies on your coolant to circulate and remove heat from the engine.

No coolant = More heat = Heat build up = Explosion

Alright maybe the explosion is a little exaggerated, but nevertheless, if you do not inspect your coolant levels properly, overheating can cause some serious damage to your car.

Be aware, as sometimes you may get a ‘maintenance needed’ warning light, or a little symbol lighting up on the dash.

Heck, sometimes you may get no indications of overheating at all – but regardless, as soon as you detect even the slightest signs of overheating, inspect your coolant level and determine whether you need to add more.

A vitally important step indeed, and should not be overlooked in the slightest.

Open That Thermostat

Thermostats exist to keep track of temperatures, and you can immediately tell when there’s something wrong with it as soon as overheating occurs when travelling at highway speeds.

Linking back to the previous point on your coolants – if your thermostat doesn’t open while you’re cruising at highway speeds (where your engine is working harder thus, requiring more coolant flowing through), there simply won’t be enough flow of coolant to keep things cool.

In other words, when the temperature reaches a certain point, the thermostat usually opens to allow more coolant to flow through to cool the engine. Thus if it stays closed, the car wouldn’t have enough flow to keep it cool.

This could very well be the cause of your overheating issue as well.

Like we mentioned earlier, you won’t look so cool if you’re cruising down the highway, packed in with the combination of summer’s heat and the added stress of an overheated engine.

With all these factors in mind, here are some immediate steps for you to take if you’re stuck in a situation with an overheating issue.

Pull over as soon as you can.

Keep calm, don’t panic and assess the situation with a clear mind

If you’re in a city area and all is clear, of course stopping at a gas or service station is the best way to go.

But if you’re stuck in traffic, shift your car into neutral or park, and gently rev the engine. This will help move the coolant through the engine and helps to keep things cool, as you slowly filter to the side of the road.

Shut down the air conditioner

By doing this, you’ll take a massive load off the engine and give you a fighting chance to get to help before your car dies.

Also, opening up the windows will also help to remove a lot of built up pressure from off the engine.

Turn on the heater

Counter-intuitive for sure, but what most people fail to realize is that the engine heat is what fuels the heater. By turning on the heat, you are therefore allowing the car to cool down just a little bit – enough to once again give you a fighting chance in getting help.

Other tips

While the radiator is still hot, do not:

Open the radiator cap

Add coolant or water to the radiator

Don’t drive your vehicle if your coolant is completely gone from a serious leak

Call a tow truck

You’ve already done all you can to minimize the repercussions from your overheated car. Now its time to call in the reinforcements and get your car properly fixed so that you can hit the road as soon as possible.


We’ve already given you more than enough information to help you handle overheating should it occur.

None of us want to be caught at the side of the road, under the scorching sun, with an overheated car and our pants stuck between our feet – so be prepared for the possible scenarios and you’ll be able to pull your pants up in no time.

Always remember though, safety comes first.

About Chad Ina

Chad Ina

One comment

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    As most radiator fans are now electric you also need to check that they work, especially if you do short journeys where the fan doesn’t get chance to come on. After a while the fan can seize or a sensor or resistor can fail and wont be noticed on a short journey. So start the car, turn the heater off, lift the hood (bonnet) and let the engine heat up. Check the guage and sometime between mid and high temperature you should hear or see the fan start up. When that happens, the temperature guage should fall back to a mid reading . You now know that its working ok.

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