Your car may experience little hiccups sometimes and need a professional checkup and some extra attention to get back on the track. You don’t need to panic if your car is acting strangely suddenly, even if it is a new car. Cars can have some common problems, and some precautions will ensure you to prevent these unexpected glitches in the future. Usually, the old car may have experienced a lot of overheating issues, especially during summer time. But with a proper knowledge of the cooling system and symptoms might help you to sustain this issue. In MotorSparePart, we always try to identify and discuss various car related issues, so let's find out what cause's car overheating and what steps you could take to prevent it.
Here are details of what to do if you have an overheating problem, what might cause a car to overheat and what precaution should be taken to resolve this matter.
Why/What causes an Car Engine Overheat?
1. Leakage of Antifreeze or Coolant
Leakage of Antifreeze or Coolant is a very common cause of car gets overheating. You may find a crack in the coolant reservoir since it the main system that keeps the car engine cool. In that case, you might be able to see coolant pooling under your vehicle when sits for a long time. There are only three common reasons for coolant leaks, although each type of leakage has several potentials.
Every time the coolant heats up, you may experience loss of coolant from the overflow tube if you have a broken or weak radiator cap. The Radiator is a pressurized system, so if there is a loss of pressure from the cap not fitting properly or if the cap is not the correct one, the pressure will be lost, and a leak might occur. With a Pressure Test of the radiator test, this can be identified. Refer to your car manual for the correct cap and pressure. Tutorial for testing a radiator here.
An internal leak could be noticeable when your coolant liquid level does not stay constant, and you need to refill the tank regularly. An internal leak could be caused by a leak in the head or block or perhaps a leaky head gasket which lets the coolant leakage its system.
An external leak can be most easily diagnosed. A split or broken hose or a hole in the radiator is two good examples of external leakage. Leaks in the water pump, heater core, or engine freeze plugs can also allow coolant to discharge. These are also easy to detect by a visual inspection.
2. Radiator/Cooling Hose Busted or Worn out
The cooling or heater system hoses carry coolant liquids through the radiator and back through the engine to keep it operating at an optimal temperature. Several rubber hoses make up the plumbing to connect the components of the cooling system. If a cooling or radiator system hose wore out or busted, the engine will not get the proper amount of coolant and will overheat, possibly causing severe damage to the engine. Most commonly check the clamps on the hoses.
If the hoses predominantly at the manufacturers and the hoses are about seven to ten years, you probably ought to replace them with screw type clamps. You can squeeze the rubber hoses, and if you hear the crunch and crack noise, that might be rust and lime deposits some minerals that have built up inside, and you are breaking it off. That’s a good telltale sign to replace the hoses. Because it is blocking the coolant getting to the engine to cool it down. Sometimes you might find rust and grime in the coolant which comes from the radiator or tubes. Pressure check is highly recommended and refills the coolant with a proper mixture of coolant.
3. Damaged Water Pump
The water pump is the primary component responsible for maintaining the flow of coolant from the radiator throughout the engine. When it works correctly, your vehicle will maintain a consistent operating temperature. Typically, most of the time if you have damaged Water Pump, it will be leaking. There is a seal in front of the water pump, and when it goes bad, it will leak coolant out of the water pump. You may hear a noise, where it's like a bearing noise like a loud whining noise in the engine compartment and that, would be time to look at the water pump to see if the bearing is going bad in the water pump.
You may rarely see it where the water pump bleeds come loose from the pump itself and pump will still be turning everything looks fine, but they don’t pump any water. These are a little bit difficult to diagnose usually you should get help from a professional to check how much water is pumped through the engine to see if the water pump is pumping water or how much water is pumping. If you get the overheating problems on the highways, there is a possibility that the water pump is not working correctly and needs to be replaced. It may cost from $100-$800 dollars.
4. Radiator Breakdown
The radiator is an integral part of a car's cooling system. It cools the coolant, which is a substance used to absorb the heat from the engine, using water and cool air from outside the system. Without this critical component, the engine would eventually overheat, and the Pistons would break, causing permanent damage. Therefore, it is imperative that car owner’s deal with broken radiators before that happens. It’s hard to diagnose radiator damages, but there are few signs and signals of failure.
Signs of Breakdown
In general, leaks and overheating are the most obvious signs of failure. However, simple leaking hoses and loose parts can cause both problems, and it is important to pay attention to other indicators of failure.
The first most visible sign of a radiator problem is when the car is not in use to see a puddle of liquid forming beneath the engine. Leaky radiators require immediate attention, as they can cause severe damage. The fluid that leaks out is toxic to humans and animals. Radiator coolant fluid looks green or red in color and is slimy in texture. Other types of fluids under the vehicle are signs of different problems.
As though the radiator's primary job is to keep the engine cool as it runs, but minor overheating is a major sign that something is wrong and need to be checked. Leaking could be simple for overheating problem, but overheating is sometimes a sign of bigger problems. So it is important to investigate the problem as soon as recognized.
· Drop in Pressure
If the radiator has a lot of corrosion, it produces lower pressure levels than normal. Radiators should produce 10 PSI to 12 PSI. If this level is low, then you have to realize that a problem might exist. Car owners can use pressure gauges to determine the pressure. These devices fit on top of the radiator cap, and gauge pressure as the engine runs.
· Low Coolant Levels
If the coolant levels are low, the radiator probably has a leak. Coolant naturally depletes over time, but sudden drops in the coolant level are not normal. Car owners should check hoses and connections to make sure everything is tight. If those parts look like they are in order, the system could have a hole somewhere.
Corrosion on or around the radiator indicates a leak or rust. As the liquid leaks, it heats up and causes the metal to rust.
Tips to Avoid Radiator Issues
· Flush the coolant every 20000 miles. This will prevent rust and also minimize mineral deposit buildup.
· Check your hoses and clamps on a regular basis. A crack, loose clamp, a small hole or other problems should be addressed immediately.
· Get on a regular coolant check schedule. Every week or so, ensure that your coolant level is full. If necessary, add extra coolant to the overflow tank. And keep tabs on your engine temperature gauge while driving.
4. Faulty Radiator Fan
All the latest model vehicle now uses electric motors radiator cooling fans to keep the engine cool. The radiator is mounted at the front of your vehicle behind the grille where it is exposed to airflow when your vehicle is at speed. And a cooling fan attached to the back of the radiator to keep a cooler temperature in the radiator. However, when your car is moving slowly or stopped, there is little or no ram air through the grille, so the constant airflow is supplied by a cooling fan. There are some common problems with radiator fans, and if your vehicle has one of them, fixing it is relatively quick and cheap to administer.
You could be easy fooled into believing that the fan isn’t working, so carry out a visual check to be certain. Do this by lifting the hood and listening carefully. The fan in newer engines might be mute, so you don’t hear them when you're sitting inside your vehicle.
The first thing to check is the fuse whenever something electrical doesn’t work. Your vehicle could be different built-in designs. So If you don’t know where the fuses are on your vehicle, read your owner’s manual to see which fuse controls the cooling system. Normally it is under the dashboard. You have to make sure that the fuse for the radiator fan is intact. If it is not, replace it directly, and this should take care of the problem.
· Fan Wires
If you find the engine is heating but the fan isn’t kicking in, check the fan wires or do it manually. You can start by unplugging the cables. There will be two wires of positive and negative feed. It should be putting out around 12 volts. Use a voltmeter to check that there is current present. You need to check both the wires and the fan relay and see If there is no current present, your fan wiring need to be replaced.
The fan relay will be under the hood. Your fan could be faulty and need to be replaced If there is voltage running from the relay to the fan. If you require changing the fan, make sure that the replacement has the right CFM rating for your vehicle.
· Temperature Sensor
Basically, by reading the cooling system temperature, the temperature sensor determines when the radiator fan comes on. If your temperature sensor isn’t working, your fan won’t come on because it won’t know that the temperature is hot enough to require activation, which can frequently lead to overheating.
Generally, the temperature sensor is positioned in the car thermostat cover. To check it, you have to disconnect the wires from the sensor and touch them together. If this starts the fan, the sensor is faulty and will need to be replaced. Read the manual to make sure exactly where the temperature sensor is on your car.
· Coolant Level
Check the coolant level in your engine. The simplest way to do this is to look at the tank in the engine. It will be marked with maximum and minimum levels. And always try to make sure that the coolant level is up near the maximum level to avoid possible overheating.
· Fan Clutch
The fan clutch is the assembly to hold the radiator fan to the engine and makes it turn. If it burns out or fails, you’ll need to replace it. Springs within the fan clutch can wear out or corrode over the years. If everything else seems to be fine, the fan clutch is the most likely cause of radiator fan failure.
5. Broken Serpentine Belt
A belt which is used to drive multiple peripheral devices such as a power steering pump, water pump, air conditioning compressor, air pump, alternator, etc. is called Serpentine belt. It is also known as drive belt or multi-vee or poly-v. But there are a few difference between this two. Few vehicles have single drive belt while others have multiple. The serpentine belt is a complicated part of drive belt system. It continues to operate when the engine is on until the vehicle is shut off. Without the operating driving belt, the car won’t be functioning at all. Typically, a drive belt lasts up to 40000 to 50000 miles or five years before it needs to be replaced. But check the owner’s manual for exact service interval. Over time, the driving belt could fail and need to be replaced. If you find any unusual symptoms, it’s better to check it out. There are few signs to know when the drive belt needs to be replaced. Replacing the serpentine belt may cost from $75 to $250, depending on the type of the vehicle.
· Screeching/ Chirping Noise
If your engine belt makes a screeching or sequel noise, it might be the noise of rubber belt slipping on the metal pulley. It is just like spinning your tires on the road. The serpentine belt might be slipping due to improper tension or simply gotten old, and the surface has become cracked, glazed or brittle. Diagnose the issue and contact a professional mechanic to have them replaced.
· Engine Overheat
Since the water pump works by the power provided by the serpentine belt and cools the engine, failing belt can cause your engine to overheat. More you left the overheating problem in your vehicle, the more damage you will lead the vehicle into.
· Disable Power Steering and AC
Your car will break down if the drive belt ultimately fails and breaks. Consequently a loss of power steering, the air conditioning will not work at all. Besides, the engine will no longer be able to cool as it should be.
· Cracks and Wear on Belt
Visual checking on the serpentine belt can show that if there is any cracks, missing chunks or other signs of wear. Once you see any of these, it is better to get the belt replaced.
· Engine Light Illumination
Some vehicles show the engine lights to warn you that there is something wrong with the systems and sometimes this may be an indication of failure serpentine belt.
6. Jammed Thermostat
A thermostat regulates the temperature by controlling coolant flow in the engine. Coolant cools the engine, and the thermostat maintains the temperature by letting the coolant in and close when need it. The coolant is blocked until the engine warms up. Most rarely, if the thermostat is jammed or not working properly, the engine will be overheated. The thermostat is installed in your car by the manufacturer that opens at the car’s operating temperature which is usually either 1800 or 212o Fahrenheit. If your thermostat is jammed or nor working, there are several indicators to test and find out the problem.
If you find out any of the tests positive and determine that the thermostat is faulty, you should replace the thermostat quickly to stop overheating the vehicle.
6. Not Concentrated Coolant
A concentrated coolant is a fluid known as Antifreeze, a mixer of ethylene or propylene glycol and water, usually in a 50-50 ratio. There is a coolant tank in every vehicle to keeps the engine cool from getting overheated. Usually, you can check from the outside of the reservoir, and there should be a mark to show the maximum and minimum fluid levels. If there is a change in the levels, it could be an indication of leakage or failure in the system somewhere. You can also check from the coolant by removing the cap from the radiator. If there is enough coolant in the radiator that means your car coolant system is working properly. Over time, due to the rust and sludge, you could find the coolant not clear enough as it should be. Most of the cars need a flush every 30000 miles or five years, whichever comes first. But the best thing is to do to follow the owner’s manual for exact schedule. You should flush your coolant with a proper concentrated coolant whenever you do it.
How do you know that your car is Overheating?
Driving should be safe and comfortable for all drivers, but the worst feeling is the undeniable fact that something is wrong. Lights flashing on your dashboard, red mark in temperature gauge, steam spewing from under the hood, and warning bells chiming are the signs to indicate that the engine is too hot. You should pull over onto the interstate shoulder or into the nearest parking lot. There might be a sinking feeling in your stomach – you could be facing expensive repairing cost. Overheating is the worst enemy of your vehicle engine. Heat damage might be very severe and require a complete engine replacement or overhaul if the condition is not caught in time. There are few common signs that your car is overheating and what should you do next.
Every vehicle has a temperature gauge to show the temperature of the coolant in your engine. Generally, the temperature gauge has mark indication “C” for cold and “H” for hot. If your engine starts overheating, the needle on temperature gauge will be pointing towards the “H” or “ Red”. In newer cars, there is a warning light- an icon that resembles a thermometer- on the dashboard that comes on when the car begins to overheat. Unfortunately, warnings on the dashboard aren’t often noticed. Still, if the thermostat is not broken or faulty, the car should be indicating that the engine is running hot.
Steam or Smoke
Smoke or steam might start coming out under the hood when your vehicle overheats. Always keep in mind that your cars can overheat without steam or smoke, but if there is, it is a sure sign that your car is too hot. Even exhaust pipe might emit steam. Sometimes, you may notice a burning smell which comes from under the hood.
Hot Air from A/C
If your car is running and the A/C is on, you can also find out if the car is overheating or not. Usually, if your car’s coolant is low, the hot air will come from the A/C. It doesn’t mean that your car is overheating, but it is a telltale sign that your vehicle needs more coolant to avoid becoming hot.
Coolant and Oil Check
If your car is leaking coolant or oil, this might be an issue for your car to overheat. When your car is parked, leaking coolant or oil would be pooling under the car. So make a habit of checking for a coolant puddle whenever you get in the car.
The engine emits a bubbling sound as coolant enters the overflow container if your vehicle overheats. This strange noise might indicate the presence of air in the cooling system. It often leads to overheating down the road.
How to avoid your car from Overheating?
Driving a car with overheating problem is very annoying and stressful. People spend a lot of money to enjoy their ride but the indisputable fact that the car can get an overheat problems due to many reasons and substances. But if you ought to prevent the car from getting this hassle on the road or the trip, you should follow some of the preventive steps on your own and your mechanic help.
- Check the coolant level regularly to see if the level is fulfilled.
- Always check the engine oil level with oil stick to identify any oil leaking.
- Watch your temperature gauge while you are driving and make sure it doesn’t go past above the halfway mark.
- Check the drive belt or serpentine belt whether it is cracked or worn out.
- Clear your radiator if you find any leaves, bit dirt or giant mosquitoes and clean it with pressure cleaner or blower.
- Inspect the radiator cap carefully to find any weakness or fault in spring or shape.
- Don’t use the air conditioning in very hot conditions if your car battery is not healthy.
- Turn the heater on to help to cool the engine.
- Have a mechanic perform regular coolant flushes and inspected the vehicle for potential problems.
- Always carry a bottle of coolant or water, a car kit, a cloth and contact number for road assistance for the emergency.
Consequently, Overheating can be caused by a few different factors. The simplest cause may be that your car needs more coolant. Yet depleted coolant can be caused by the bigger problem, like leaks or faulty hoses, so always check for the underlying cause before simply filling it up with more. Another common reason for overheating may be that the radiator fan which keeps your engine cool is faulty, so check your fan motor connection and fan thermostat.