Why Cars Overheat and How to Prevent It

It’s only natural for a car engine to generate heat. It’s similar to how our own bodies heat up after an intense work out. The more power our engine expends, the more heat it generates. The problem isn’t so much that our engines heat up, but that if it heats up too much it can potentially cause the car to unexpectedly stop – or worse – cause permanent damage to the engine and have the car catch on fire.

Like our bodies, our car engine needs to stay cool to run properly. Unfortunately, most motorists tend to wait until their temperature gauge has hit the red line before taking proactive measures to keep their car running cool. By then, it might already be too late. Here are some of the most common reasons behind overheating cars and the different ways to prevent it.

Lack of Water or Coolant

We sweat when our bodies heat up; it’s our body’s way of cooling itself. But to stay cool, our bodies need water. A car engine works the same way. Water and coolant keep the engine at safe operating temperatures. Without it, the engine overheats. Be sure to take the necessary precautions when adding water or coolant to an overheated engine because the escaping steam and boiling hot surface can burn unprotected skin. It’s part of proper car maintenance to provide your car with the adequate supply of water and coolant. But in case of emergencies, it’s also important to have at least a gallon of water and a bottle of coolant within arm’s reach.

Leaking Cooling System

No matter how much water or coolant you flush into your engine it’s all wasted if there’s a leak in your engine’s cooling system. This is often the case when you notice your temperature still rising after you’ve filled your radiator or reservoir with water or coolant. Depending on the size and location of the leak, all your water and coolant will end up dripping out of the engine in a matter of minutes.

Broken Cooling Fan

Car engines have built-in cooling fans that help dissipate excess engine heat. These fans are particularly helpful during stand-still traffic when no air is blowing from the road. This works by drawing cooler air through the radiator. Unfortunately, a broken cooling fan can raise your engine’s temperature even when it’s idle. This is often due to a broken cooling fan or a worn out fan belt. Either is easily fixed at any garage, but it can be prevented by having your car properly maintained and tuned-up.

Faulty Temperature Gauge

Although broken temperature gauges don’t directly affect the temperature of your car; they’re your only means of telling if your engine heat is on the rise. Remember, no matter how well-tuned and well-cooled your engine is; there’s no way that a running car’s temperature gauge can sit idly at the bottom. This is a clear indicator that your gauge needs to be checked by a professional. To prevent your car from overheating, it’s absolutely critical that you keep your temperature gauge in working order.