What should you do when your car is overheating?
Picture this: You’re cruising along on a sweltering summer day with your air conditioning and favorite ‘80s tunes blasting you squarely in the face. You are in the middle of belting out “St. Elmo’s Fire” when, in a twist that seems right out of the movies, you see what looks like smoke billowing out from under your hood. You look at your instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, and sure enough, the temperature gauge is burying the needle. What should you do when your car is overheating? Read on for some tips on how to manage this stressful situation.
Tips for dealing with an overheating automobile
- First, drive prepared for such a situation by keeping a bottle of coolant (aka antifreeze) in your car. If your engine is overheating because of a lack of coolant, this can help alleviate the problem immediately.
- If you are blasting your air conditioning, turn it off. That may not sound like a lot of fun on a hot summer day, but the air conditioning is putting stress on the engine.
- Turn up the heat. OK, now this really sounds terrible on a boiling summer day, but doing this can release some of the heat from the engine into the cabin.
- If your temperature gauge is still showing that the engine is too hot, pull over to a safe location as soon as you can and shut off the engine. Shutting off the engine altogether gives it the best chance of cooling down, just as sitting down for a rest is a good way to cool yourself down after a brutal exercise routine.
- Let the engine cool for around 30 minutes. Do not take off the radiator cap, as there will be built-up pressure that could be released, severely scalding you.
- When the engine has cooled for 30 minutes or so, refill the coolant. If you are able to, check the hoses for any leaks. You may need to bring this in for servicing or repair.