Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And Now my Car is Overheating

If you didn't follow my advice on how to help you car beat the heat you might of had some overheating issues with the recent heat. There are ways to deal with an overheating vehicle until you can get it to a shop or home to be fixed and not wreck your vehicle.

Turn up the heat
Now this may not be what you want to do on a hot day, but if your vehicle is starting to overheat you can head it off by turning on the heater to max temp and max speed. This will help cool your engine down as the heater core is basically another radiator thus by letting hot coolant flow through it and blowing air across it will increase your vehicle's ability to get rid of excess heat. Please roll your windows down and open your sun roof otherwise it is going to get really hot really fast in your car.

Add some Water
Now if your vehicle has overheated please shut it down and let it boil over and cool down. This will prevent you from causing serious damage. Now once it is cooled down (about 30 minutes) open the cap and go find some water to fill it back up with. The water doesn't have to be cold. As I mentioned in a previous post water transfers heat better than coolant so by refilling with water you will be able to increase the cooling capacity.

Fix that leak
If your vehicle leaks coolant some where (sometimes coolant leaks are really hard to find) you should always carry some extra coolant in your trunk or back seat. If you let it get too low your vehicle will loose its ability to stay cool and may overheat. This is the worst kind of overheating as some parts of the engine may be starved for coolant such as the heads. This can be disastrous as you could blow a head gasket, crack the head, or crack the block which may be an engine ending failure. If you don't have some premixed coolant then regular water will work as will those stop leak products. 

The good news
The good news is that most gas stations carry products that can help to temporally resolve your overheating issues. Most will sell some automotive products like oil, coolant, stop leak, and gas additives. Also they carry water which you can use in a pinch and/or have a hose and spigot out back. Once you get the vehicle home or to a repair shop get the issue resolved. This may be replacing hoses, a radiator, or a flush and fill. Getting a flush and fill will do wonders if you have a vehicle that has a neglected coolant system, if you regularly exchange your coolant you probably don't need a flush and fill as it will only cost more money.


  1. NEVER attempt to touch, let alone open, the radiator cap of an overheating car. That's rule number one of an overheating car. You MUST allow an overheating car to cool off on it's own before touching that cap. The cooling system on a car is pressurized, meaning that it gets hotter than boiling at standard air pressure. Coolant/antifreeze also is chemically designed to raise the boiling point. From personal experience, that cap will release the pressure instantly and make the coolant "explode" violently out of the cap, covering you, and anyone within five feet with burning water/coolant. Coolant will make the water hotter and also make it stick to you, making it worse. The reason I got away with ONLY second degree burns on one hand is because I had been running with only water.

    Using a rag is a false sense of security, and will just make the burns worse on that hand by soaking the water up and then burn by direct contact. I knew this when I did it, but thought I could be quicker, and besides, I wasn't going to open it but a crack. The pressure release spun the cap off completely, even though I was being careful. Plus, some caps have a quarter-turn lock and just blow immediately. Even if you know your car well enough to know how might react, it's still just a bad idea. Let it cool on it's own, and that means usually 15-20 minutes with the hood open.

    I'm not trying to flame here, but this is dangerous advice, especially for the inexperienced. Probably half the people that have had it happen will tell you they knew better when they got burned, myself included, but they thought they could be careful. You can't be careful with that kind of unpredictable heat and pressure.

    Delete my post if you want, but PLEASE change it.

  2. I am not one to delete posts, unless you are one of the Amsoil pushers who I am getting sick of. I did correct it. I have never had a vehicle with the quarter turn cap (they all have been screw on ones), and usually when I had a vehicle overheat it was because it was low so cracking open the cap would cause the fluid to boil but it was low enough that none came out.