Tuesday Tip: Know the Warning Signs that Your Car is Overheating and What to Do If It Is

Tuesday Tip: Know the Warning Signs that Your Car is Overheating and What to Do If It Is

By Yehudit Garmaise

As summer temperatures start to climb in New York City, drivers should take care to prevent their cars from overheating, a common problem that can both create danger and cause expensive damage to engines.

When suspecting that their cars might be overheating, drivers should trust all five of their senses, pull over, and call for roadside assistance, says a blogger from Jack Hanania Chevrolet, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., which repairs many overheated cars each year. 

1. Keep your eye on your car’s temperature gauge, which should always be pointing toward the center. If the needle points toward hot, pull over, turn off the engine, and let your car cool down.

2. Your hood is too hot to touch.

3. You see smoke or steam emerging from beneath your hood in billowing plumes.

4. You hear thumping noises, which are caused overheated engines.

5. You smell burning oil and rubber, which are the smells of the softening rubber seals, plastic valves, and fragments of resin that hold the engine together.

6. You feel reduced engine power. If your car is not accelerating as it usually does, your engine could be straining as a result of overheating. 

If you conclude that your car is overheating, stay calm and do what you can to cool down your wheels while you wait for roadside assistance.

1. Pull over, and turn off your engine as soon as possible. If you choose to “tough it out” and continue driving to your destination or to a nearby town, you likely will seriously damage your car, Hanania Chevrolet warns.

2. Turn off the air conditioner, and open your windows so your engine does not have to work as hard as it works to cool itself down. Some recommend cautiously and carefully opening the hood to allow the hot air to escape.

3. Turning on the heater may sound like bad advice, but heat helps to pull hot air away from the engine compartment and cool the engine.

To help your car to keep cool in the hot summer sun, follow the tips from a blogger from Nationwide, an insurance company.

1. Park your car in the shade.

2. Cover your steering wheel and seats with towels or blankets to keep your car’s upholstery and interior cool. 

3. Use a sunshade to reduce heat inside the car.

4. Tint your windows at a local dealership or autobody shop.

5. Crack open slightly your car windows and sunroof, when you park.

6. Turn on your floor air vents to the maximum setting to push out the hot air that rose in the car.

7. Use the fresh air setting on your air conditioner, and don’t recirculate hot air.

8. Add engine coolant when your engine is cool and at rest. Never add coolant to a hot engine.

9. Every 40,000 miles, have a mechanic perform “a radiator flush,” which drains radiators of old coolant before cleaning them with flush fluid and adding new coolant.

10. Replace car batteries that are more than three years old and may not be providing adequate power, thereby forcing your car to work harder and overheat.

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