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What to do when your car overheats?

3rd March 2022

Having your car overheat can be a distressing time – not only does it indicate something may be wrong with your car, but it can also pose a great safety risk if not tended to immediately. Our helpful guide informs you on the steps to take when your car is overheating and how to best handle the situation.

What causes a car to overheat?

There are various reasons as to why your car could overheat, including:

  • Hot weather
  • Low coolant levels
  • A leak in the vehicle cooling system
  • Low water levels in the vehicle radiator

Signs that your car is overheating

If you suspect that your car is overheating, look out for these warning signs:

  • A ticking noise - if your engine is making a ticking noise then it could indicate there isn’t enough engine oil in your vehicle.
  • Temperature gauge - a warning light in the shape of a thermometer will start to flash on your car dashboard when your car is overheating.
  • Steam coming from the bonnet- you may see steam rise from the bonnet of your car this is perhaps the biggest indicator that your car is overheating.
  • Burning smells in your car – if you can smell a peculiar burning smell coming from your car then you should park in a safe place immediately.
  • The bonnet is hot to the touch – an overheating car will have an unusually warm bonnet, be careful not to burn yourself when touching the car bonnet.

What to do when your car is overheating?

When you notice that your car is overheating, the first thing you should do is pull over in a safe place, turn off the engine and step out of the car. Then take these following steps:

  • Open your bonnet – be wary of any hot steam that might pour out on the opening - you may need to use a cloth or piece of clothing to protect your hands.
  • Leave the engine to cool for at least 30 minutes – during this time, do not attempt to open the radiator cap as this could result in severe steam burns.
  • Once the engine has cooled down, you can check the coolant tank near the radiator -investigate the tank for any signs of leaking and, if you cannot spot any damage to the tank, you can fill it back up with coolant. If you find that the coolant levels are full, this could be a symptom of a more severe issue with your engine, which would require professional attention.

If you find that your car is regularly overheating, and you are unsure of what the issue might be, pop into one of our local garages. Here at Merityre Specialists, our expert team are always on hand to help you with any engine issues.