As we get into spring and summer, temperatures will heat up and unfortunately so will your vehicle. Even if your vehicle has multiple heat sensors and computer-controlled electric fans, your vehicle can still overheat. Warning signs of overheating are usually your temperature gauge indicator rising or steam coming out of the front hood. It mostly happens on incredibly hot days or during long periods of slow, stop-and-go traffic. If you find yourself close to overheating or in the red zone, take these steps to stay safe and help prevent long-term engine damage.
Turn on the Heater: Sounds counter-productive, but turning the heater on will redirect some of the heat away from the engine.
Pull Over: As soon as it’s possible, pull over in a safe place to stop, preferably a shady area, and turn off the engine. Do not manually pop the hood until the engine has cooled down, which can take up to an hour – you could burn yourself! You may want to call roadside assistance while you’re waiting.
Look for Leaks: Inspect the radiator and hoses to find any breaks or leaking coolant. (Don’t touch anything until you’re sure it’s cooled down!) Check the plastic reservoir tank near the radiator, too. If it’s empty, you could have a leak, so check the ground for any dripping from under the engine.
Fill Fluids: If you didn’t spot any leaks, the problem might be that you’re just low on coolant. Check the plastic reservoir tank. Most cars use a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. If you don’t have antifreeze on hand, you can use water just to get you to a mechanic.
Proceed with Caution: If a low supply of coolant was the problem, you can restart the vehicle, keeping a close eye on the temperature gauge. If you found any leaks or your coolant tank was full, you may have a much more serious problem and you’ll need to call a mechanic.
Plan Ahead: Make sure to always keep extra coolant and water in your vehicle when driving in hot temperatures. Reference the owner’s manual to find out what type of coolant your vehicle takes.