What To Do If Y O U Overheat!

Whether you are driving a new car or old, if you do not take care of your vehicle & check your fluids, something bad will happen. The most common issue? Overheat the engine.

Have you ever driven your car on a hot day and noticed smoke coming from under the hood? I hope not a lot of you have witnessed that, but if you have, then your car engine has overheated and you need to pull over. Don’t ignore the smoke. If you do, your engine will probably ignite and there goes your lovely vehicle.

If you want to learn how to control an overheating engine and prevent engine fire, then keep reading!

What To Do If You Overheat

So, you are driving along the highway and notice your water temperature gauge starting to rise.. a lot! Ops! Overheat…what do you do?

1. Don’t panic, read your water temperature gauge.

Your water temperature gauge is installed for a reason. It will let you know if your engine is too hot, so you should check it every so often, especially if you drive an older vehicle. Depending on the car, you will start to notice smoke when it gets to the red line or a little before. If your temperature gauge is past the middle point and rising, see the next step to help fix it. If you see smoke, pull over and start step 4.

2. Adjust your A/C and crank on the heat.

Turn off your A/C, crank your heat, and put your fan on max. This will transfer heat away from the engine, which will hopefully help cool it. You might get toasty, but you’ll be saving your engine!

3. If your water temperature continues to rise, or you see smoke coming from under your hood, pull over.

Keep an eye on your temperature gauge. If it keeps rising, pull over to the nearest gas station or on the side of the road.

4. Allow your car to cool down for at least 30 minutes.

DO NOT open the hood immediately if you see smoke. It could send a rush of oxygen to the engine which would ignite into a serious fire. Instead, pull over and cool down your car first. You may be sitting there for a good 30 minutes, but it’s totally worth it! If you don’t see smoke you can lift your hood to help cool the engine quicker.

5. Once your engine is completely cooled, check your coolant tank.

The reason you need your engine to cool down is in order to check your coolant level. If you don’t allow your engine to cool, coolant could spray into your face and burn you once you open the top. Once cooled enough to touch, open the cap and peek inside to see the coolant level. You overheat because your coolant is low, which is why it is important to check the level frequently.

6. Pour distilled water (or extra coolant if you have it) into your coolant tank to help cool down your engine and prevent it from overheating more.

Odds are you are low on coolant (hence why your engine got hot) and either you have a leak or something else is up. Refill your coolant tank with DISTILLED water, or more coolant if you have some.

7. You are safe to drive to a mechanic shop to have your car looked at.

Your car should be cool enough to drive at this point. Make sure to take it to your mechanic to have them look at your coolant tank and wiring.

8. If it happens again, pull over and repeat steps 4-6.

However, once you start driving, depending on the condition of your vehicle, you could overheat again so make sure you save enough water and repeat steps 4-6.

You should not overheat your engine to the point of smoking (unless you race cars… in which case it is a little more common but still shouldn’t be happening). Know your vehicle, watch your dashboard warning signs, check your fluids, and Motor With Confidence!

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Comments 2

  1. 8 great tips there. I must say having worked in a garage for countless years, we are getting less and fewer cars coming into the garage after overheating. I think it’s becoming less of a problem in newer cars. There will still be a whole load of cars out there that would over heat, so great article. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Post


      Thank you for your comment! I definitely agree. Newer cars now rarely overheat. However, I was driving a ’62 Biscayne that started overheating which made me think about writing this article; If you ever drive a classic or older car you need to be prepared for anything.

      Have a great day,

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