What To Do For An Overheated Vehicle

When your car overheats, get off the road and turn off the engine as soon as you can to prevent permanent or serious engine damage.

You're driving down the road at a comfortable pace when your temperature gauge shows that your vehicle is getting hot. Suddenly steam starts drifting from the hood. But the weather is cold, and you only have a mile or two to go before reaching a gas station. Or perhaps it is very late and everything is closed, but your car light tells you your car is hot, and then you hear your vehicle start making a thumping noise. You want to keep going until you find somewhere safe to stop.

No matter where you are, when your car starts overheating, you need to pull off the road and turn the engine off as soon as possible. If you keep driving, you can damage your car so bad that you will end up needing a new engine. Find a safe roadside area or well-lit parking lot to pull into and turn off the engine.

Next, open your car's hood. Be careful not to let it fall on your hands or your head, and avoid any steam that is coming from the engine area. You might have to wait until it cools down to do this. If you are in an isolated or unsafe neighborhood, get back in the car and lock the doors. Use your cell phone to call for help. You may want to attach an emergency flag or put out the brightly colored cone.



After the car has cooled down, take a rag that is kept in the car for such purposes, and begin to release the pressure from the radiator by slowly turning the cap. Again, be careful, as there is still going to be pressure in the radiator from the compressed heat.

While the radiator is cooling down, use a flashlight if it is night and check to see if a belt has broken; If not, look for anything that may be leaking from a hose. Make sure the belt is tight, because if it is loose, this could cause the car to overheat. Next, check the hose clamps to make sure that they are tight, also. Look at the oil reservoir to be sure there is an adequate supply. If needed, add water or antifreeze. But if you have called for help, you might not want to put anti-freeze in until you find out what is causing the leak. Don't attempt to drive the vehicle, however, since if you don't put anti-freeze in it or don't have enough in the winter, you can crack your engine block.

Turn off everything in the car and start the engine. Slowly pour water or antifreeze into the radiator. Start looking for a leak. Check your water pump and make sure it isn't leaking. Check every hose for droplets or trickles. Then make sure that your radiator is full before you put the cap on. If your car isn't overheating anymore, drive it to the auto parts store to get antifreeze if your car seems to be running at normal temperature.

You might want to flush your radiator before putting new antifreeze in it, but you'll need to do this at home. While you're at it, check the belt and the hoses to make sure they are not badly worn. Better to check them now than wait for another breakdown on the road.

Just remember you cannot drive a car that is overheating very far without doing a lot of damage. Keep an eye on that temperature gauge whenever you drive your vehicle, and address any overheating problems promptly to avoid serious or permanent damage.

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