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engine overheating

Engine Overheating (and how it can ruin vacations)

What better way to spend it than to take a quick road trip outside the city to enjoy a nice view and some fresh air. For some strange reason, though, some cars seem not to like the holidays and begin to act up just when you’re about to embark on a long journey. The most common vacation-trip problem vehicles suffer from is engine overheating. 

engine overheating

What causes engine overheating?

However, it is not just the increase in ambient temperature that causes our engines from overheating. We can blame the inconveniences it causes from issues inside the vehicles such as:

  1. The cooling system is not working.

This issue may stem from a few factors:

  • Cooling fluid level running low due to a leak or if you’re not topping it off regularly.
  • The water pump is not working correctly. This may be caused by a low coolant level or a clogged hose.
engine cooling system
engine cooling system
  1. Faulty radiator fan
    The radiator fan channels the warm air out of the engine and assists in cooling the engine. If there is a malfunction in the electrical wiring or the fan belt breaks, the fan will stop working and overheat. 
radiator fan
radiator fan
  1. Blown head gasket

Steam coming from under the hood is a common symptom of your engine overheating. And this is most likely caused by a blown head gasket, which keeps the coolant running inside the system. 

head gasket
head gasket
  1. Malfunctioning thermostat

The thermostat helps regulate the temperature inside the engine by controlling the flow of coolant to the radiator. 

car thermostat
car thermostat
  1. Oil leak

Aside from lubricating different engine components, the engine oil also cools them by lessening the friction generated. If the oil level becomes low due to a leak, more heat is created inside the engine. 

oil leak
oil leak

Symptoms to look out for

A car engine overheating will give off the following signs:

  1. Steam coming from under the hood.
  2. The temperature gauge rises to “H” or goes red coupled with an alarm from the dash.
  3. An unusual smell is coming from the engine. 

What to do when the engine is overheating?

If you experience an engine overheating, DO NOT PANIC! You just need to follow these steps, and you’ll be fine:

engine overheating
  1. Turn off the air-con – To lessen the engine load and minimise the heat produced when the car is working.
  2. Pullover to the side of the road – Get to a safe area where you can stop the car.
  3. Allow the engine to cool for about 15 to 20 minutes – Don’t open the hood right away, as the steam trapped inside may seriously hurt you.
  4. Top-off the coolant fluid – You should have a reserve coolant bottle on your trunk as part of your emergency kit. This will help cool off the engine and allow you to drive again. But first, check if the coolant reservoir is cool enough to open before doing this. 
  1. Proceed to the nearest auto shop – Once you’re on the road again, it is better to have a professional assess the cause and extent of the damage caused by the engine overheating before planning to drive back home or to your destination. 

How to prevent the car engine from overheating

Fuel ignition and friction from various components generate tremendous heat inside the hood. Engine overheating may cause severe damage to your car – aside from the inconvenience and physical harm it may do to you. 

engine coolant
engine coolant

However, this problem is easily preventable if we adhere to these simple actions.

  1. Don’t skip your preventive maintenance service (PMS)

This may catch problems inside the engine that may not be obvious during your pre-drive inspections. Ideally, it would be best to do a PMS every 5,000 to 10,000 km travelled or every six months. 

  1. Regularly top-off your coolant fluid

Before turning on the engine, we suggest you check your coolant fluid level (as well as other car fluids). Make this a routine, and you will prevent not just overheating but more severe issues with your vehicle. 

Also, a periodic coolant flush would do wonders for your engine. 

  1. Routine checks on your radiator, fan belt, and other parts of the cooling system

Aside from checking your fluids, do a regular check on the physical components of the cooling system. You may discover leaks or faults before it causes more headaches to you. 

  1. Run diagnostics through a scan tool

Having a basic scan tool at the ready can help you diagnose your engine when you need it. Having one will come in handy to preempt problems before it occurs, as you get notified of errors while tracking key engine parameters (e.g. oil level, coolant level, engine temperature) in real-time. 

Our Final Word

Make the most out of your much-anticipated summer trip by prepping your vehicle better to face the brutal heat. A few checks here, topping off on the coolant there and plugging in your scan tool once in a while may mean the difference between a memorable journey or an engine overheating ruining your weekend. 

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