It happens to all of us sometimes: You’re on the highway, moving at a reasonable rate of speed when all of a sudden your car starts to make an odd noise. Then, without any warning, your engine begins to make some very scary clattering and knocking sounds. The last thing you want to do is stop driving if you think your car is overheating. But how can you find out if it’s unsafe to keep driving? If you can make it to the next exit, will your car be able to hold out for that long? Whether you think your car is overheating or not, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and the engine from further damage if a problem happens. Ultimately, you will likely need a towing service such as Marietta Wrecker – continuing to drive your overheating vehicle is not the answer. Roadside assistance is the answer for safety.
What Causes a Car To Overheat?
The most common cause of overheating is a lack of coolant. The radiator and its plastic hoses are not designed to withstand high temperatures and can fail if they get too hot. Coolant is the liquid that circulates through your engine to absorb excess heat, helping the engine maintain a steady temperature. If your car overheats, it might be because your coolant level is low or because one of these parts has failed.
How To Tell If Your Car Is Overheating?
Here are a few signs that indicate overheating in a vehicle:
- The temperature gauge rises above the middle mark on the gauge.
- The coolant light comes on or flashes.
- You hear the engine running louder than usual.
- Steam is coming from under the hood.
- The engine may stall during acceleration or deceleration (going up or down hills).
- Some newer vehicles may actually tell you to shut the car off now.
When Your Car Is Overheating, Avoid These Things
There are quite a few do’s and don’ts when your car is overheating. Most importantly, you may or may not know if your car is overheating or if that steam is smoke. It is best to stay a safe distance from your vehicle once you get to a safe area – just in case it isn’t steam. Try to get the vehicle to a safe space for you, your vehicle occupants, and other drivers on the road. Until you can get to a safe space, decelerate, turn on the heat and stay calm.
Do not use your air conditioner when you are stuck in a standstill or in very slow-moving traffic in hot weather. Instead, open the windows and turn on the heat. These are prime conditions for a car to overheat.
Don’t Turn On the Air Conditioning
This might seem counter-intuitive, but when your car is overheating, don’t turn on the air conditioning or any other electrical components in your vehicle. When you do this, more electricity flows through the system and increases its temperature even more. Wait until you get somewhere safe before turning on any electrical components.
Don’t Keep Driving
When your car overheats, stop immediately and turn off the engine. Park in a safe place where you won’t be blocking traffic. If you can’t do that, pull over as soon as possible so that other drivers don’t crash into you while they try to maneuver around your vehicle. If you must keep driving to a safe spot, decelerate to slow the overheating.
Don’t Open the Hood
If you notice that your car is overheating, don’t open the hood unless necessary. Opening the hood will allow heat to escape from under the hood and into the engine compartment, causing further damage to your car. If you must open it, cover it with a towel or blanket immediately.
Don’t Try To Open the Radiator Cap While the Engine Is Hot
Opening a hot radiator cap can cause an explosion because pressurized coolant will escape and spray everywhere if you do so before letting everything cool down first. Let your car cool down completely before attempting to open up anything under its hood at all!
Marietta Wrecker Service Can Help You
Now you know the steps to take if your car is overheating. You have learned what to do if your car suddenly stops working, you can’t see through the windows anymore, or it starts smelling like something is burning up. Remember the solution when your car is overheating:
- Stop driving.
- Don’t open the radiator cap while hot.
- Don’t try to open the hood or keep driving because it will only prolong the time it takes for your car to cool down and won’t damage your engine in any way.
Marietta Wrecker can help you get your car to a safe place.