If you’re searching for overheating car symptoms or what causes a car to overheat, this post will help you understand the signs of an overheating car and what to do. Overheating engines are not something that people want to happen. If you can catch the problem quick enough, then you can save the headache from major engine repairs, and possibly needing to purchase a new car. Knowing the following information from this guide will help you to make the right choice when any of the symptoms happen.
Overheating Car Symptoms
If you believe that your engine is overheating, don’t try to check the coolant level or open the cooling system because it will be under pressure and you can get burned with coolant. Let your engine cool down before you check for an issue.
1. The Temperature Light or Gauge
Each car will have a warning light or temperature gauge that will come on to tell you the temperature engine. If the warning light comes on, it’s saying that the engine is beyond the operating temperature. If the temperature gauge is over the red or near the top, then that is a sign that there is excessive heat on the engine. The only issue with these devices, is that they sometimes they don’t work right because of a coolant leak which causes the sensor to have nothing to read.
2. The Car Smells Hot
Because the engine is a giant piece of metal with small pieces of plastic, rubber gaskets and seals, and residual motor oil, whenever it is running hot these oils and materials will give off an odor that most people describe as smelling hot. This may happen even if your gauge is stating that is in the normal level and your warning light isn’t on. The odor can come through the AC vents because the engine is near the fresh air intake of your HVAC system.
3. Thumping Sounds
Whenever an engine is cold it won’t run efficiently. This is why engines are designed to have a thermostat that stays closed blocking the flow of coolant to the radiator until the engine is able to reach the operating temperature. The issue with this device is whenever it doesn’t open it can cause the coolant to get super-heated inside of the engine. This can cause a thumping noise from your engine whenever you have cold coolant trying to mix with the boiling coolant within your engine. This particular sound is pointing out that your thermostat should be replaced because of a failed sensor within the thermostat.
4. Your Engine has a ticking sound
Engine oil is used to lubricate and provide thin layers of protection between the moving parts. Whenever this oil gets super-heated, it will lose the ability to provide this layer as the oil weight is so thin that it is similar to water. Once this happens, the clearances in the engine will start to tick which indicates that the lubrication process has failed.
5. Coolant is on the ground
If there is coolant on the ground under your vehicle after you parked it, then it may be an indication of engine overheating. This could be because either the cooling system has a leak which causes the engine to run hot and overheat or the coolant has boiled inside of the cooling system and has been relieved by the coolant overflow tank.
6. Steam is coming from the hood
Whenever there is boiling coolant, in the coolant reservoir or being sent out of the radiator cap because of extreme temperatures it will cause steam to be produced from the sides, rear or front of the hood. This is because the coolant is way past the boiling point and is now becoming steam much like water. This is a big sign that the engine is overheating, and it needs to be shut off immediately before any damage happens.
7. Reduced Engine Power
Whenever an engine is overheating it may cause reduced power because of the pistons expanding within the cylinder bore which will slow down the crankshaft rotation. This will slow down, and it is because of the amount of power that the engine can produce. If you happen to notice that the vehicle is having a hard time keeping up with traffic, look at your temperature gauge or light and then notice if there are any weird smells which can be trying to tell you that there is a temperature problem in the engine.
8. Hot Hood
While the hood of your car is going to hotter than everything else, it shouldn’t be extremely hot to the touch. You should be able to place your hand on the hood for around 10 seconds in a worst-case scenario. If you aren’t able to touch the hood, then your engine is causing excessive heat and it will need to be checked out.
Why Do Cars Overheat?
There are a lot of factors that can cause your engine to overheat. One of the most common causes is that the coolant level is low. If this is low, then it will cause the heat that is inside of the engine to stay in while making steam as the temperature rises. The common cause for low coolant is that there is a leak in the engine or in the system. Mechanical failures like a thermostat sticking closed can block the flow of coolant in the radiator which causes the car to overheat. Additional failures could be a blown head gasket or a cooling fan not coming on. If the engine is running while it is overheating it will cause the pistons to begin expanding and then seize inside of the cylinder bore while busting the cylinder heads and cracking the engine block.
Overheating Auto Repair Service
If your car, truck, or suv has been showing any of these signs or has overheated Bridwell Automotive Center can help! Our master ASE repair technicians work on all makes, models, and can repair your overheating car quickly and affordably. Our radiator repair service and automotive repair shop is located in Scottsdale where we proudly care for any vehicle maintenance or repair need.
For help with overheating automotive problems call (480) 948-4781