How to Drive an Overheating Engine

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Only drive when the engine temperature is low

Avoid driving for long with an overheating engine. If you have to drive an overheated engine, only drive it once the engine cools down.

If the overheating problem is not recurrent, the problem might have been caused by factors such as driving during a hot day, leaving the air-condition on, or being stuck in traffic.

As a precaution, you should always keep your eye on the temperature gauge to avoid other major problems.

Most car manufacturers calibrate the temperature gauge to sense heating way before a major problem occurs, thereby giving you enough time to fix the problem.

This is not to say that you should ignore the temperature gauge.

Keep the AC Off

To reduce the strain on your engine where it is already in trouble of overheating, turn off the air conditioning since it uses the engine’s power to cool off or warm the car.

Instead of the air conditioner, open the windows.

Turn your heat up and fans to the highest level

This may sound counter-intuitive, but your heat fans suck the engine heat to make your car warm. The more engine heat you get to escape from the system the better.

Therefore, turning your heat and fans to the highest settings will get the hot air out of the engine thereby cooling the car.

To avoid discomfort in the cabin, turn the vents towards the car’s windows.

Alternatively, you can set the car’s heat to the defrost mode to prevent the heat waves blowing directly to you.

Shift the gear to neutral and rev the engine

The easiest and quickest way to circulate air in the engine is to get your car into the neutral mode and rev up to 2,000 rpm.

This will allow cold air and coolant to get to the engine thereby helping you to remove excess heat from the engine.

If you are stuck in traffic, this will be a great method to keep the engine going even if the car is not moving.

Use water as coolant substitute

If you’re out of coolant, you may still add water to help your engine stay cool.

Water is not recommended for long drives, but it will still help the engine to stay cool as you get your coolant.

If you choose to use water, and warm water into the radiator after the engine has completely cooled.

Cold water can cause cracks in the engine block due to the abrupt change of temperature from extremely hot to extremely cold.

Drive for shorter stretches

To maintain the optimal temperature of the engine when it has overheating problems, drive for shorter stretches, turn off the car and then repeat the process to keep moving.

Do not forget to keep checking the temperature gauge so that you may notice when you should stop driving and let the engine cool off.

Every time the engine gets hard, pull over and give it 10 to 20 minutes to cool down.

Although this is not a good practice for an overheating engine, it is better than driving with an overheated engine which may cause a total meltdown.

Chronic overheating requires a mechanic

If your car regularly overheats, you will need to visit a mechanic.

Sometimes the leaks that cause the overheating cannot be sealed by the individual owner.

Even though the tips in this article will help you deal with overheating in the short run, you will still need to have the causes of overheating fixed by a qualified mechanic avoid a major meltdown.

How to Avoid Engine Overheating

Drive Slow and Steady

Before you start driving, always choose a route that doesn’t have a lot of stops and traffic lights.

When driving, ensure that you drive at a slow and steady pace to avoid forcing the transmission system to overwork.

Stopping and starting a car puts a lot of stress on the engine which causes overheating especially in older cars.

Always anticipate the action of the driver ahead of you to avoid braking so that you can ease off the acceleration pedal until your car comes to a stop.

A good driver always checks the temperature gauge, and as soon as it turns red, he stops to check what might be causing the overheating in the engine.

Substitute the AC with the Windows

The air-condition utilises the engine power to create the cold air in the car thereby putting a strain on the engine.

Open your car windows to create a cold air instead of using the air-condition to ease off the load on the car’s engine.

If you are late for car inspection or you have unresolved air-condition issues, or you are running low on coolant, or you have a leak in your radiator try not to use the air-condition system.

Have regular oil changes and fan inspections

Photo courtesy of Flickr by Robert Couse-Baker

If your car is running on old oil and this problem is compounded by running on low coolant and other issues, you will start experiencing engine overheating.

Every time you have an oil change, remind the mechanics to check your fans as well so that they can fix the issue well before it starts being a problem.

Use a smart technology such as GOFAR to help you to find your car engine’s sweet spot and then guide you on driving efficiently to save fuel, reduce wear on your brakes and minimize overheating.

The GOFAR app and device can;

  • Track the car mileage for tax deductions
  • Alert you when the car has a fault
  • Explain the car faults in plain English
  • Connect you with top-rated mechanics and parts suppliers

Note: Properly working fan will still be whirring even after you have turned off the car because it is still trying to cool off the engine

Refill your coolant before summer begins

During summer the air is usually hot this means that you will need to check that your coolant reservoir is operating at the optimal level.

Check the coolant tank to see the level at which your coolant should always be and then mix equal parts of water and coolant to fill up to the recommended level.

If you live in a hot area, this should be a best practice action. When checking the level of the coolant, take a few minutes to check if there are any leaks.

The coolant is usually green in colour and smells sweet. Check around the engine, under the car, and around the horses and read it apart to see if there are any leaks.

Always have an emergency kit

The last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with an overheated engine.

To be well prepared, you need to have a kid that will help you to solve your overheating problems even when there are no mechanics around.

Among the tools that you should have in your emergency kit include;

  • Extra coolant
  • Gallon of water
  • Tool-kit
  • Flashlight
  • Non-perishable food
  • Blanket
  • Straight razor blade
  • Duct tape
  • Philips and flat head screwdrivers
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