Engine Overheating Causes & What to Do

Engine Overheating Causes - Man with an Overheating Car - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

Is Your Car Engine Overheating?

As the scorching summer weather settles in, it is crucial to understand why your car’s engine is overheating and the causes. This knowledge will not only keep you informed but also empower you to take the necessary precautions.

A variety of factors can lead to your car engine overheating, and while hot weather plays a role in making the situation worse, it is not the sole contributor. We understand the urgency of repairing your vehicle, as a non-functioning engine could leave you stranded without transportation. So, without delay, we better get started and delve into your car’s engine overheating causes.

Engine Overheating Causes - Multiple Red Flags - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

Red Flags to Look Out for Engine Overheating

Before we cover the technical side of engine overheating causes and what to do if it happens, you may not know what to be aware of when your engine is overheating. Knowing what to look out for is important not only for the integrity of your car but also for your own safety.  The following are a few red flags that indicate your engine is overheating:

  • Warning lights (The one that looks like a temperature valve above squiggly lines, in addition to TEMP & CHECK COOLANT)
  • Smoke or steam emitting from the bonnet
  • Strange engine noises, such as a ticking or thumping sound
  • Burning smells of plastic or rubber
  • Reduced engine power
  • Decreased fuel efficiency
Engine Overheating Causes - Overheating Car Engine - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

Car Engine Overheating Causes

Now that we have discussed what to look out for, you may be interested in learning about the causes of engine overheating.

Radiator Problems

Problems with your radiator, such as clogs, leaks, or physical damage, can hinder heat dissipation. While a radiator might sound like it should heat up your car, it actually helps by reducing coolant temperatures to minimise heat from the engine.

Low Oil Levels

Inadequate lubrication from low oil levels can increase friction and heat within the engine, in turn raising the temperature.  

Engine Overheating Causes - Checking Oil Level in Car with Dipstick - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

Diminished Coolant Levels

Reduced coolant levels or leaks can diminish your car’s ability to regulate its engine temperature.

Cooling System Issues

Your cooling system may have issues such as failures in the cooling fan and thermostat or restricted coolant flow due to kinked hoses or a faulty radiator cap.

A failing water pump or any obstruction in the circulation of coolant throughout the engine can also lead to overheating due to inadequate coolant circulation. Additionally, a blocked heater core can reduce the system’s ability to transfer heat from the engine, as coolant may not be able to flow.

Engine Overheating Causes - Car Cooling System Cap - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

Faulty Thermostat

A malfunctioning thermostat can disrupt the engine’s temperature regulation, leading to overheating. If your thermostat can’t keep track of your car engine’s temperatures, it may not be able to detect when it is getting too hot. Therefore, it won’t allow the coolant to flow as needed. 

Damaged Belts and Hoses

Issues such as broken or loose belts affecting the water pump or a leaking hose can impact the cooling system’s functionality.

Engine Overheating Causes - Car Engine Drive Belt - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

What to Do When Your Engine Overheats

Now that we have focused on engine overheating causes, it might be time to take some action.  Whatever you do, don’t panic!

1. Turn Up the Heat

Believe it or not, turning off your air conditioning and turning up the heating will actually help reduce stress on the engine and cooling system while helping divert heat away. You might feel uncomfortable with hot air blowing into your face, but trust us, it is necessary.

Engine Overheating Causes - Car Air Conditioning Dial - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

2. Open Windows

Opening the windows will allow heat to flow out of the vehicle and fresh air to flow in, cooling your car. Plus, it means you don’t have to sit in a hot box while your heating is on full blast!

3. Safely Pull Over

If you suspect that your engine is overheating, it is important to pull over as soon as possible and make sure that you stop in a safe place. As the National Highways campaign recommends, “Go Left!”

If you can’t stop immediately due to oncoming traffic, keep going, but only if absolutely necessary, as leaving your engine running for too long will make it hotter.

Engine Overheating Causes - Car Pulled Over by a Woman - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

4. Turn Off the Engine

This might seem like an obvious one, but once you have pulled over safely, don’t forget to turn off the engine! Don’t touch the bonnet for at least 15 minutes, as it will be extremely hot.

5. Add Radiator Fluid

Not everyone will have this to hand, but if you do, once your car has been left to cool, top up your radiator fluid to help prevent any more damage to your car’s engine.

6. Call for Help

If possible, it is best to get your car to a garage via a tow truck. Call the RAC, the AA, your local garage, or whoever you have breakdown cover with to recover your vehicle.

If you can’t reach a professional or even a friend to tow your vehicle, restart it once it has cooled down and drive to the closest car repair shop. Keep an eye on your gauge light to see if it flashes. If this happens, pull over again and allow your car engine to cool. (Repeat as necessary.) Whatever you do, don’t just bury your head in the sand and wait for your engine to get better. Chances are there will be underlying issues that urgently need to be attended to.

Engine Overheating Causes - Woman with a Car Breakdown - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

Need Assistance with Your Overheating Vehicle?

Thanks to this article, you might now be aware of the causes of your car engine overheating. However, Plymouth Radiators is here to help with your Vehicle Radiator Repair needs in Plymouth. Our expert team will skilfully repair your vehicle, whether a classic or modern car, to ensure that it is ready and safe to get back on the road. Before resolving any issues, we will carry out diagnostic checks.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Car radiators are essential for the efficiency of your vehicle as they keep the engine cool. It is crucial to stay on top of regular maintenance to ensure that your cooling system is in excellent working order. Ignoring initial signs, such as pools of liquid on the floor or high readings on your temperature gauge, can result in further damage to your engine if your radiator fails to operate correctly due to overheating or radiator hose leaks.

Engine Overheating Causes - Barkley the Dog Under Truck - Plymouth Radiators Ltd

Contact Us

Whether you need modern Car Radiator Repair, Classic Car Radiator Repair or Motorcycle Radiator Repair, Plymouth Radiators should be your first port of call to ensure you don’t have to worry about engine overheating causes. (We also offer Air Conditioning Installation and Servicing to keep you cool!)

You can call us during our regular hours at 01752 666402 or in emergencies at 07989 973385, and we will be happy to assist with your vehicle radiator repairs.