What to Do When Your Car Overheats?

The cause of a car overheating is often due to hot weather! While it’s uncommon for modern vehicles to have this problem, there's still a possibility of overheating to occur and it's important to know what to do. Besides hot weather, there are several factors that can contribute to this car issue. Gain insights into what actions to take when faced with an overheating car situation and explore the potential reasons behind it.

What Should I Do When My Car Overheats? 🔥

If you're in a position to park your car, preferably in the shade, it's highly recommended to do so. Once parked in a safe area, turn off your engine and let it cool down.

But if you’re climbing a steep hill or stuck in stop-and-go traffic or not in a position to safely park your car, here are the steps to take: 

  1. Turn off the air conditioner. This will decrease the strain on the car’s engine, helping it to cool down.
  2. If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to turn on your heater and blower. When you do this, the heat gets transferred from the engine to the vehicle’s passenger compartment. While this may solve the issue, it may cause discomfort to you and the others in the car. 
  3. What if you’re stuck in traffic? Shift the car into Park or Neutral and then rev up the engine a bit. This allows water to pump as well as for the fan to speed up, drawing air and liquid through the car’s radiator. The increase in circulation of liquid and air can help to cool off the car. 
  4. In situations where you think the car’s going to boil over, move to the road’s right-hand side. Pop the hood open and allow things to cool. Keep in mind not to open the radiator cap just yet or you might hurt yourself. If the engine has indeed boiled over, don't add water until the engine has cooled down. 

What if there are no leaks in the car’s cooling system? It’s possible that the thermostat may have malfunctioned. While you may not be able to fix the thermostat while you’re on the go, you can check if it is indeed the culprit. 

Park somewhere safe and then wait for the engine to cool. You may then remove the thermostat and then link the hoses again without it. Start the engine to see if there are issues. If there are no problems starting and running the car, then it’s most likely a thermostat malfunction.   

How to Troubleshoot an Overheating Car? 🔥

How can you tell if your car is going to overheat? You can do this by observing the temperature gauge. See if the needle is starting to move into the “Check Engine” or red zone. 

The warning light indicating a temperature problem on your car's dashboard might also illuminate. If you leave the situation unattended, the liquid inside the radiator will eventually reach a boiling point and cause overflow and steam will begin to emerge from the car's hood.

Is your car experiencing frequent overheating or regular coolant loss? If so, it might be that the cooling system has a leak. To temporarily address overheating, you can add liquid to the cooling system, inspect the water pump, replace or adjust the accessory belt, or change the thermostat. It is advisable to have your car inspected by a professional to rule out any other underlying issues.

If your car consistently overheats, start by checking the pressure cap. There may be instances where the gasket on the pressure cap is already damaged, causing pressure to escape and leading to a malfunctioning cooling system. You can have the pressure cap tested at service stations to ensure its functionality.

Why Do Cars Overheat? 🔥

  • Delayed Ignition Timing: Occasionally, the ignition system may malfunction, resulting in delayed timing. This delay can lead to overheating since the spark plugs ignite the air/fuel mixture after the piston has descended. If your vehicle experiences other issues, it's likely to overheat frequently.
  • Clogged Radiator: When the radiator becomes obstructed, the cooling system cannot function efficiently as it hampers the circulation of coolant. In some cases, resolving this problem may involve steam-cleaning the radiator.
  • Slipping Accessory Belt: Check whether the accessory belt is frayed or loose. If it is, it is necessary to replace it. If you are uncertain about performing this task yourself, it is advisable to seek assistance from a specialist.
  • Insufficient Oil Level: Insufficient oil in the engine can cause overheating because oil plays a crucial role in dissipating up to 80% of the waste heat generated. Additionally, oil provides lubrication to the moving parts of the vehicle.
  • Collapsed Radiator Hose: There are situations where the lower radiator hose collapses due to the vacuum created by the water pump. This hinders proper circulation and leads to overheating.



Understanding the reasons behind car overheating and how to troubleshoot the issue empowers you to take appropriate action. Identifying the root cause allows you to implement a lasting solution. If you lack expertise in car repairs, it might be time to take your car to an auto mechanic ensures that a professional will handle the problem, granting you peace of mind at the end of the day 🚘