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?

So, what causes a car to overheat in the first place? 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 could 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.

Signs Your Engine Overheated

In addition to the temperature gauge rising, how do you know you’re dealing with a car overheating? If a car is overheating, you will often see steam billowing out from under the hood. Additionally, if your engine is overheated you might detect a strange odor — coolant leaks usually smell sweet, while oil leaks usually have a burnt smell.

What Happens When a Car Overheats?

Even with diligent maintenance and care, your car might overheat someday. 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 reaction is to pull over in a safe spot and call for towing service to your mechanic of choice to have your car checked out. If your car is still running as normal even though the engine overheated (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 or how to unlock a steering wheel.


More from Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth

  • 2022 Chevy Colorado Towing Capacity

    While the 2022 Chevrolet Colorado is technically a mid-size pickup, this beast offers performance on par with some of the biggest trucks around. For 2022, the Chevy Colorado towing capacity reaches a formidable 7,000 pounds. That’s more than enough muscle to help you take on work projects in Lawrenceville and weekend adventures in Suwanee. If…

  • What is the 2022 Chevy Blazer Towing Capacity?

    The new Chevy Blazer is a popular choice among adventurous drivers in Lawrenceville! With an available 3.6L V6 engine and a spacious cargo area, the 2022 Blazer can rise to any challenge with ease. But, how much can a Chevy Blazer tow? If you have lots of weekend toys or you’re an avid DIYer, this…

  • 2022 Chevy Equinox Towing Capacity

    If you’re impressed by the Chevy Equinox fuel economy and the fun range of colors, you might be ready to take the leap and upgrade your ride at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth. But some drivers will also want to know, can a Chevy Equinox tow? Yes! The 2022 Chevy Equinox towing capacity maxes out at 1,500 pounds. Learn…

Hendrick Vehicle Disclaimer
$849.00 Dealer Administrative Charge included in advertised price.

Advertised prices EXCLUDE options added by the dealer and displayed on the vehicle’s window sticker addendum. Please contact dealer for additional details.

All prices exclude all taxes, tag, title, registration fees and government fees. Out of state buyers are responsible for all taxes and government fees and title/registration fees in the state where the vehicle will be registered. All prices include all manufacturer to dealer incentives, which the dealer retains unless otherwise specifically provided. Dealer not responsible for errors and omissions; all offers subject to change without notice; please confirm listings with dealer. All vehicles may not be physically located at this dealership but may be available for delivery through this location. Transportation charges may apply. Please contact the dealership for more specific information. All vehicles are subject to prior sale..

Additional Disclaimers:


*APR and cash allowance vary by model. Length of contract limited. Must finance with GM Financial. Some customers may not qualify. Not available with lease and some other offers. Take new retail delivery by 7/5/22.

*APR and cash allowance vary by model. Length of contract limited. Must finance with GM Financial. Some customers may not qualify. Not available with lease and some other offers. Take new retail delivery by 7/5/22.

Connect With Us

Contact Us

$250 Off Any New Vehicle Purchase

After submitting your information, one of our representatives will reach out to you about this offer!

Limit one per customer. Offer is not valid on any price quotes that were given prior to the receipt of this offer.

Submit your information to receive this offer.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Rick Hendrick Chevrolet Duluth 33.9641, -84.1225.