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Why is my car overheating?

man on phone looking at steam coming from under vehicle hood

It’s never a fun surprise being stuck on the side of the road asking yourself “why is my car overheating?” If your car’s temperature gauge spikes to the red area and/or you see steam/smoke coming from under the hood, you might have an overheating engine on your hands.

Here are 4 reasons your car may be overheating, and what to do if this happens to you.

  1. Low coolant or coolant issue. You might need more coolant which could be a quick fix, but it’s important to have a technician check out your cooling system to make sure you’re not losing coolant due to a leak or another issue.
  2. Radiator issues. Your radiator is an important part of your cooling system. If something goes wrong with this part and it’s not pulling heat away from your car’s engine the way it should, your engine could overheat. Regular maintenance is important to prevent radiator issues.
  3. Broken thermostat. Your thermostat is the gatekeeper of coolant. If it’s not working properly, it can prevent coolant from flowing the way it should and cause your car to overheat.
  4. Water pump issue. Your vehicle’s water pump is another key piece of the cooling system that keeps coolant circulating throughout the system. Similar to the failure of other cooling system parts, your car may be overheating because this component is faulty or broken.

What to do when your car overheats
First, turn off your air conditioning system and turn on the heat which should reduce stress on the engine and pull heat away from it. Find a safe place to pull over and turn your vehicle off to allow your engine to cool.

It’s important not to continue driving until you’ve diagnosed and addressed the problem, so your next move should be to call roadside assistance or arrange a tow to get your vehicle to a service center for diagnosis (you may have AAA or free towing through your insurance – call them first to check!)

CarCare To Go is a full service operation – we can handle everything from regular maintenance to big repairs to luxury hand detailing services. Give us a call anytime if you need guidance on what to do next in a situation like this – or book your next appointment online.

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