What To Do When Your Car Overheats

Summer is here and that means road trips are bound to happen.  Rising gas prices, making sure you packed everything and heavy traffic may be your biggest concerns as you prepare to hit the road.  But what about being prepared to handle potential car trouble, specifically your car overheating?

While engines can overheat in any season, the scorching hot asphalt you’re driving on, the overall heat generated by your car’s engine and the soaring high outdoor temperature are all factors that could increase the likelihood of your car overheating in the summer months.  Stop-and-go traffic on a hot day, as well as regular wear and tear on rubber hoses, gaskets and water pumps, can all put high amounts of stress on your car’s cooling system.  This can result in your engine overheating, causing the temperature gauge dial to spike and steam to billow out from under the hood of your vehicle.

Seeing smoke and a big red “H” engine temperature warning signal can be alarming.  As the saying goes, “plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

Make sure you’re prepared if disaster strikes and learn what to do if your car engine overheats:

  1. HEAT > AIR CONDITIONING – This may seem backwards, but if you see your car is overheating, quickly shut off the A/C to reduce stress on the engine and turn on the heat. As uncomfortable (and sweaty) as it might be for you to endure for a few minutes, this can help pull heat away for your car’s engine.
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  3. PULL OVER – As quickly as you’re able, find a safe place to pull over and turn off your car. Allow the engine to cool for at least 15 minutes and keep an eye on the temperature gauge.  It should slowly move back to the normal range as the engine cools.  * If needed, you may want to call for roadside assistance if you think your car will need a tow.
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  5. ADD COOLANT – After your car’s engine is cooled, carefully open the hood of your vehicle to help release the built-up heat and let the air circulate. Once the engine has sufficiently cooled, use a towel or glove to carefully remove the radiator cap.  Slowly add coolant (mixture of 50% water, 50% antifreeze) until it reaches the full line and replace the cap.
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  7. SEEK AUTO REPAIR HELP – Once you replenish the coolant, turn on the engine to check the temperature gauge reading. If it has returned to normal and a tow is not required, your car should be safe to drive to the nearest auto repair shop for service.  Keep a close eye on the engine temperature and pull over and let the system cool if it overheats again.
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Lancaster PA Auto Repair You Can Count On

Even if your engine’s temperature returns to normal after adding coolant and stays in working order while driving, the problem that caused your engine to overheat in the first place must be addressed.  Regular coolant flushes and exchanges, as well as radiator maintenance, can help you fix any potential engine trouble before it’s too late and you’re stranded on the side of the road with a steaming hot car.

This summer, feel the heat at the beach, not in your car.  Stay safe by keeping up with regular car maintenance and inspections.  It’s always a good idea to keep a quart of oil, gallon of coolant, towels, heavy-duty gloves and basic tools on hand while traveling.  If you’re seeking auto repair in Lancaster, PA, CNM Auto Repair has a slew of services that will keep you (and your car) in full gear with your summer travel plans.

Contact us at (717) 397-1497 or simply schedule an appointment online – and stay safe (and cool!) on the road this summer.