How to Handle an Overheating Engine While Driving

By Product Expert | Posted in Safety, Tips and Info on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 at 4:56 pm
Temperature gauge spiking to hot

What You Should Do When Your Engine Overheats

Have you had your car overheat before? Do you dread the day that it might happen? Overheating engines are more common than you may think and should be approached with a clear mind as well as the knowledge of what to do and what not to do. Learn how to handle an overheating engine while driving below.

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Woman looking at her steaming engine

Steps for Safely Taking Care of an Overheating Engine

  1. Crank the heat. While this may sound counter-productive, cranking the heat will help pull some of the heat from your engine to your cabin. You may feel uncomfortable but doing this may buy potentially save your engine.
  2. Pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine. Make sure you are away from traffic when you turn off your engine. If you are pulled over on the side of the road, turn on your hazard lights to alert oncoming drivers.
  3. Do not open the hood while hot. This is a mistake many drivers make as they want heat to escape. However, this often leads to burns due to the hot metal or steam. For your safety, do not open the hood while hot. For now, the best you can do is remotely pop the hood if your vehicle has that function. You should wait at least 15 minutes after turning off the engine before opening your hood.
  4. Check your coolant level. In many cases, engines overheat because there isn’t enough coolant to flow within the engine. If you have coolant with you, top off the coolant reservoir tank. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to find the reservoir and how to add it.
  5. Call for help. If you do not have coolant or suspect a different problem with your car, contact your insurance company to request roadside assistance. They can help you get coolant or a tow truck if needed.
  6. Drive carefully to the nearest mechanic. Sometimes, all it takes for an engine to stop overheating is to add coolant. In other cases, there may be hidden issues such as a leaking hose or a broken radiator fan. Once you restart your engine, drive carefully to the nearest mechanic so they can check your vehicle. If it starts overheating again, repeat these steps until you can drive safely again or consider calling a tow truck.

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