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What to Do When Your Car Overheats

George Brown, 5 years ago

5 min read

  • Guide

Cars are most susceptible to overheating in very hot weather though that is actually quite rare in modern vehicles. However, if you’re driving up a steep incline or stuck in stop-and-go traffic, your car may be in danger of overheating.

If your temperature indicator begins to rise on your dashboard or a warning light comes on, pull over and open your hood, allowing the engine to cool off for 10-15 minutes.

Remember, whatever you do, DON’T open the radiator cap immediately. The water in the system may be incredibly hot and could spurt out if you open the cap too soon.

Allow a little time to pass and slowly open the cap before adding water while the engine is running in neutral.

If you want to avoid a problem ever arising, use the following tips to avoid your car overheating.

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What to do when your engine overheats

Switch off your air conditioning and open all of your windows

This may seem counter-productive, however, by switching off your air-con, you’ll reduce the amount of strain on your car engine. This will allow it to cool off.

Turn the aircon to push out heat

If your engine fails to cool off after switching off the aircon, turn it on and set it to blow out hot air. Once more, this may seem like an odd thing to do, but this will help. Effectively, you’ll be transferring the heat from the engine into the drivers compartment.

When you’re stationary, rev a little

When you’re sitting in traffic or at a red light, make sure you’re in neutral and rev your engine gently. Doing so will make the water pump and fan speed up, both drawing more liquid and air through the car radiator. This added cooling should help reduce the temperature once you have done it a couple of times.

Get an aircon regas

An aircon regas is a service that makes your aircon much more effective and efficient. If your car has not had an aircon regas for a couple of years, your car engine will have to work much harder to keep your car cool and so, if you don’t have one, your car will be much more likely to overheat.

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Drive smart

Your driving style can contribute to your car overheating, specifically in stop-and-go traffic. When moving along, try to crawl slowly forwards, starting and stopping gently. Don’t drive forward quickly and come to a sudden halt. This will put extra pressure on your engine and cause it to heat up.

Hot weather is the most common cause of a car overheating, however, there are other reasons a car could overheat.

Common causes of a car overheating

  • The water and coolant levels are too low

  • There is a leak in the


You can check for a leak in the system by pulling over and checking under your car. If you can spot liquid dripping, then it is likely to be coming from the cooling system if your temperature gauge has displayed an increase in heat.

If there is nothing dripping then you may have low liquid levels, in which case, you’ll have to take your car to a local garage.

The mechanic will be able to refill the coolant quickly and for a small fee.

If you simply ignore the warning lights and signs that your car is overheating, you’ll be making a very big mistake.

Too much heat in an engine can cause serious problems and you’ll have to pay a large fee if you let it happen.

The average price to repair a car with serious cooling problems is £323.98 (based off 5,252 mechanic quotes), so make sure to pay attention to our advice before something goes wrong!

However, if you do need your cooling system repaired, you can get quotes from local garages in minutes using WhoCanFixMyCar.

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