Do You Know the Signs of an Overheated Engine?

It is a scene from countless movies: a family sets off on a road trip, and before long, steam begins pouring from the engine, forcing them to pull over and disrupting their plans. While movies tend to dramatize inconveniences like this, in this case, the reality is not too far off.

Today’s cars have sophisticated cooling systems that are tested for everything from extreme weather to traffic jams, making them far less likely to overheat than cars manufactured 30 years ago. Even so, it still happens under certain circumstances. 

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Why Do Cars Overheat?

Your car’s engine contains a fixed cylinder and a piston that moves up and down. Gas and air are sprayed into the engine’s cylinder, causing little explosions that move the piston. These explosions generate a lot of heat, which is why your car needs coolant to circulate through the engine and absorb the heat.

When the engine overheats, it is because there is something that is preventing heat from being removed, usually a leak or blockage in the cooling system. The good news is that you can usually avoid problems with your car’s cooling system with regular maintenance from a certified mechanic.

How Do You Know If Your Car Is Overheating?

There are several signs that can tip you off to an overheating engine:

  • A strange smell coming from the engine. Coolant typically has a sweet smell, while oil has a burnt odor.
  • Your car’s temperature gauge may spike to the H or red zone.
  • Steam coming from under the hood or trunk of your vehicle, depending on where the engine is located.
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What to Do If Your Car Overheats

  • Pull over. If you see signs of your car’s engine overheating, it is important to pull off the road as soon as possible, ideally within a quarter of a mile, to prevent more extensive damage.
  • Crank on the heat. Running the air conditioner puts a lot of stress on your car’s engine. If you see signs that it is overheating, immediately turn off the air conditioner and turn on the heat. This will remove some of the heat from the engine.
  • Check your coolant level. If the coolant level is low, top it off and plan on scheduling an appointment with a mechanic to find out why you are losing coolant.
  • Get to a service station. An overheating engine is not a problem that will fix itself. Even if adding coolant seemed to resolve the issue, if there is a leak, it will only get worse. Taking care of the problem as soon as possible can save you from more expensive repairs down the road.

Keep Your Car Roadworthy with Nevada Insurance Enrollment

Routine maintenance is just one aspect of keeping your vehicle roadworthy. At Nevada Insurance Enrollment, our auto insurance agents can help you find affordable coverage that meets state minimum requirements and help you cover damages if you are in a car accident.

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