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My Vehicle is Overheating and I Don’t Know What To Do!

by | Sep 26, 2022

If your vehicle is overheating, it can be an unnerving situation but knowing exactly what to do if this happens can help make the event less stressful. While modern cars tend to have sophisticated cooling systems with heat sensors and computer-controlled fans which keep your engine running in all kinds of weather, there are occasional situations where a vehicle may still overheat. Today, we’ll walk you through why vehicles overheat in the first place and what to do if it happens to you.

Why do vehicles overheat?

If your vehicle is overheating, there are several reasons this could be happening. Some of the more common causes include, but are not limited to:

  • A leaking cooling system – A leak here allows air into the system causing an airlock. The airlock blocks the coolant from circulating through the system, potentially causing the vehicle to overheat. 
  • A blockage in the cooling system – Blockages do not allow for proper circulation in the system. Some common objects that will lead to blockages include mineral deposits, foreign objects or a faulty thermostat. 
  • Water pump failure – As the main part of your system, you won’t be able to circulate coolant. 
  • Change in coolant consistency – Freezing temps cause the consistency of the coolant to turn into a gel like substance and can result in blockage. 
  • Low oil – Procrastinating on this one can lead to excessive friction from moving parts that can overheat the engine. Not good, but preventable with routine oil changes.
  • A broken cooling fan – If this happens, you may not have enough air circulation to keep the engine temperatures down.
  • A faulty thermostat – A broken or malfunctioning thermostat cannot regulate the exchange of coolant when the engine is too hot or cold.


How do you know if your vehicle is overheating?

Fortunately, there are common signs to watch for that can tell you if your vehicle is overheating. Every vehicle and situation can be different, but here are some common symptoms to be looking for:

  • Steam (or what looks like smoke) coming from under your hood.
  • The temperature gauge for your engine (found on your dashboard) has increased to H or is moving into the red area of the gauge. Pay attention to this warning!
  • Unusual smells from the front of the car, especially near or under the hood. Leaking coolant tends to have a sweet smell, but oil leaks are usually more of a “burnt” odor. 


What to do if your vehicle is overheating

  • Shut off the A/C and open your windows.
  • Turn the heater and blower on as high as they will go. 
  • Pull over, put the vehicle in neutral or park and rev the engine a little. 
  • Do not brake frequently.
  • Pull over, open the hood and let it cool. DO NOT TOUCH THE ENGINE!
  • Have your vehicle repaired, examined or inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible. 

As with any car repairs, preventative maintenance is the best way to prevent these issues. Routine services and inspection by your trusted auto repair shop can help you to avoid these stressors and inconveniences saving you time and money down the road. Need some help? Come on in! Our Tempe auto repair shop is here for you and we’re happy to help!

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Good Works Auto Repair in Tempe offers financing and allows you to make payments on your car repairs.

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Mon – Fri 7:30 – 5:30
Sat 7:30 – 5:30


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2348 E. Broadway Rd
Tempe, AZ 85282

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