5 Reasons Your Car Might Be Overheating

Overheating isn`t as common as it used to be. Years ago, powerful engines with limited coolant could easily overheat on a long drive – and often in the middle of a desert road. Today, it`s less likely a car will overheat without giving you ample warning first. Yet, when it does happen, it`s critical to ensure you know what to do. At Borst Automotive Tucson, our team works closely with you to determine the underlying problem and to provide an effective solution. Our goal is to help you avoid the worst outcomes whenever possible. As soon as you notice a problem, give us a call.

What Happens When a Car Overheats?

It`s not uncommon for any type of engine to get too hot. Today, many vehicles have aluminum engines with various sensors scattered around them. These help to give you insight into what is happening sooner, so you can pull over to the side of the road before an accident happens. Yet, if the vehicle does overheat, even happening just one time can cause a warped head or a blown head gasket to occur. Other problems can be even more serious.

The bottom line is to react fast. Pull over as soon as those sensors go off. Call a tow truck or your team for help.

Why Do Cars Overheat, Though?

Various factors can lead to a car overheating. Today`s vehicles have a cooling system made up of numerous parts from the radiator itself to the hoses, thermostat, water pump, and cooling fans. Because there are so many components, with sensors in place, it is easier to track down the underlying cause of the problem faster. Here is a look at the most common reasons cars overheat.

#1: The Radiator Is Clogged

A clogged radiator is the most common cause. It can have an obstruction externally or internally. Those that occur externally generally are the result of debris – like leaves or bugs – getting into it. Removing this can help to fix the problem.

Internal clogs are more complex. They can occur due to corrosion building up within the lines. There are coolant products that have anti-corrosion agents in them, which can help to resolve this problem over time. The better option is to use this as a preventative solution. It can also be prevented in most cases by simply maintaining the cooling system properly over time.

#2: Not Enough Coolant in Place

Coolant is critical to help keep the working components of the engine at the right temperature. If there is not enough coolant present, you can see why the engine overheats. Low coolant is not just about poor maintenance (though this is a common reason it does happen). Sometimes, coolant leaks from damage to some fitting or hose. Also, if there are no other obvious signs, a low coolant level could be brought on by the heater not working.

A leak in the heater core is a common problem. This often results in a wet floorboard in the vehicle due to the location of the heater core. You may also smell the coolant in the vehicle.

#3: A Blown Head Gasket

Another very common problem has to do with the failure of the head gasket. The coolant is getting to the engine`s combustion chambers. You may notice this in the motor oil. It may show as being higher than the full mark on the dipstick. Sometimes, it can also have a milk-like appearance in being much thicker than normal.

If you have a blown head gasket, you have a significant problem with your vehicle. This is not something you can easily repair. When you bring it into a trusted repair shop, you`ll be able to learn if it is a head gasket right away.

However, other problems are easier to fix, such as a minor leak. There are chemicals that can be used to identify where the leak is in the system to allow for a chemical weld to occur. A trusted mechanic is important. You don`t want to pay for a repair that you really do not need.

#4: Fuel Delivery Failure

In some situations, the problem could be occurring because of a fuel metering problem. If there is not enough fuel running through the system, this can create a significant amount of heat in the engine, specifically in the combustion chambers. If there is too much gas getting into the engine, this can happen as well.

To be clear, it is not common for a lean-running engine to have an overheating problem due to the fuel-injection setup most vehicles have. However, if you have an O2 sensor that is failing or the MAF/MAP sensor is not working, this can lead to a rich-running situation.

Most of the time, if these situations occurring, your vehicle will light up the check engine light on the dashboard. You will have trouble with your performance as well. You`ll also notice you`re heading to the gas station more often.

#5: The Thermostat Fails

A final common cause of an overheating engine is related to the thermostat. This device is very important – it helps to ensure your engine is getting up to the right temperature to operate fast enough. During that time, the thermostat is designed to prevent the coolant from getting into the radiator – you don`t want it to start cooling down the engine as you are trying to warm it up.

If the thermostat is stuck shut, this can cause overheating very quickly. The coolant isn`t getting where it needs to be to keep the engine cool. Though this is not the most common cause of overheating engines, it can happen if the thermostat is older, damaged, or simply worn.

Trust Our Team for Immediate Help

When you have a car that`s overheating or anything else wrong with it, we encourage you to contact our team immediately for help. At Borst Automotive Tucson, our professionals are here to determine what the problem is and offer a comprehensive, effective, and affordable solution.


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