What Happens When Your Engine Overheats?

Every Lawrenceville driver’s vehicle has a “normal” spot for their temperature gauge to sit. Most vehicles operate between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and if your car exceeds this temperature, the engine can quickly overheat. As such, it’s best not to drive your car if you start it up and notice the temperature gauge reading higher than usual. What happens when your engine overheats? Numerous issues can arise, and none of them are desirable. Below, the auto service pros at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth will dive deeper into what happens when an engine overheats, some common causes, what to do if the situation arises, and how you can avoid it altogether.

What Causes a Car to Overheat?

An overheated car is a clear signal to you that there is a bigger issue to take care of. Here are the most common reasons overheating might happen:

  • There’s a Leak in the Cooling System – A cooling system leak is the most common cause of an engine overheating. The cooling system is composed of numerous components, including the radiator, hoses, water pump, head gasket, and thermostat housing – unfortunately, all of these are prone to leaks.
  • There’s a Problem with Your Coolant – Your car should always have a proper coolant-to-water ratio of 50/50. If the ratio is off or if the wrong coolant was put in your car, engine overheating may occur.
  • There’s a Blockage in the Coolant Hose – Our next common culprit is the coolant hose. As you drive through Suwanee, dirt and debris can make their way into your cooling system causing a blockage in the coolant hose.
  • There’s an Issue with the Radiator – The engine overheating might also be traced back to a radiator issue. It might be due to a blockage, a leak, or a problem with the radiator fan.
  • Your Car’s Water Pump is Broken – Your car has a water pump that sends engine coolant throughout the cooling system. If there’s a leak or a shifted pump shaft, engine overheating is more likely to occur.

What Happens When a Car Overheats?

Engine overheating damage may vary depending on how high the temperature rose. Learn more, below:

  • 20 to 40 Degrees Over – If the temperature climbs 20 to 40 degrees above what is normal, your vehicle might experience engine knock. Continuing to drive the vehicle while engine knock is occurring alongside higher temperatures can result in a cracked piston, a shattered piston ring, or a melted spark plug electrode strap.
  • 40 to 80 Degrees Over – If your engine overheats to this degree, you’ll likely experience a noticeable drop in power while driving across Johns Creek and your engine might sound like it’s a tin can full of rattling coins. At this point, overheating damage can mean damage to the bearings, the wear surfaces in the engine’s interior, and the top piston rings.
  • 100+ Degrees Over – Industry professionals would consider it a “total meltdown” if your engine overheats to this level. It may be possible to save components like the engine block, rods, crankshaft, intake and exhaust manifolds, valve springs, timing chain, accessory drives, and the fuel and ignition system, but overall, your engine will likely never be the same again.

While engine overheating damage might vary depending on how high the temperature gets, one thing is for sure: You’ll have a costly repair or repairs to take care of as a result.

What to Do When a Car Overheats

Sometimes, engine overheating might not happen until you’ve already headed out on the road in Norcross. If you’re cruising along and notice your temperature gauge is starting to rise, the safest way to react is to pull over in a safe spot and call for towing service to your mechanic of choice and have your car checked out. If your car is still running as normal (aside from the rising temperature), you can turn your heat on while you wait for assistance as this will help to pull heat off the engine and might help to salvage it if possible.

How to Prevent Engine Overheating

Avoid the costly repairs associated with engine overheating damage by taking these preventative measures in addition to following a consistent maintenance schedule that includes regular engine oil changes:

  • Maintain Coolant Levels and Freshness – As we noted above, an improper coolant ratio or the wrong type of coolant are common causes of engine overheating. As such, checking the coolant levels on a regular basis and double-checking that you’re using the right type will help avoid the issue. Also know that coolant has a lifespan, so even if the levels are fine, it’s smart to change it out at regular intervals to prevent overheating.
  • Inspect the Drive Belt – The drive belt is an essential component that if damaged can lead to issues with coolant circulation and cause overheating. It’s important to have it inspected regularly to check for cracking and other signs of damage, replacing it when necessary.
  • Clear Out Your Radiator – All sorts of debris can pile up in front of your radiator over time. If left unchecked, it can block airflow through the cooling system.

Turn to Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth for Help!

If your car’s engine temperature is higher than normal, it’s important to have it inspected as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment at the Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth service center today! Our factory-trained certified technicians will service your vehicle with great care, getting you back on the road safely and in a timely manner. Be sure to check out our service specials before your appointment, and contact us with any other questions you may have, like how to check transmission fluid.

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