What to Do If Your Car Starts to Overheat

We’ve all been there—driving down the road and suddenly your car is overheating. Don’t panic! Just remember these helpful tips as you steer your scorcher of a car to one of our Jim Shorkey Service Centers.

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1. The first, and most important, step is to make sure that you always carry an extra bottle of coolant (antifreeze) in your car, as well as a jug of water. Engines typically overheat because the coolant is low, so topping off the coolant will usually solve the problem.

2. If your air conditioner is running and you see the temperature gauge slowly creeping into the red, or a notification goes off, turn off your AC immediately.

3. If the problem continues, crank your heater to full blast. This may make the next few miles brutal but the transfer of heat away from the engine may save your car and wallet’s life!

4. If the previous steps fail, and the problem still persists, pull over as soon as you can and turn off the engine. If you can, pop the hood from the driver’s seat. Do not pop the hood by hand, until the engine has cooled, especially if you see steam rising off of the engine.

5. Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant tank. If the coolant tank is empty, you may have a leak. Take a look under the car, if you notice a drip or a puddle, chances are the coolant tank is leaking.

If you do have a leak, carefully open the radiator cap. Place a cloth over the radiator cap to protect your hand, and tilt the cap away from you as it opens. Refill the cooled radiator with your spare coolant or water. Do not pour cold water into a still-hot radiator — it could cause the engine block to crack due to the sudden change in temperature.

If the coolant tank is full, the problem may be electrical or mechanical in nature, in which case a tow to the nearest Jim Shorkey Service Center is definitely in order. A leaking hose, worn or broken fan belt, bad water pump, or malfunctioning thermostat may be the culprit.