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What Makes My Car Overheat?

There are a number of things that could make a car overheat. Cars are complex machines with many moving parts that need to work as designed in order for a car to run properly. To complicate matters further, most of the newer model cars have computers that serve as the brains of the engines operation. When engine oil goes into a cars engine, it’s enclosed in a system composed of many working parts that create extreme heat. The oil’s job is to lubricate those parts to prevent them from deforming and breaking due to heat build up. Motor oil works along with water and coolant to keep the temperature in a cars engine within an acceptable operating range. Unfortunately, wear and tear on an engine tends to break down motor oils viscosity or ability to flow and lubricate. This is one of many reasons that contribute to cars overheating. Let’s look at some other things that could cause a car to overheat.

Poor Maintenance

Poor to no maintenance is a leading cause of engine overheating. Car owners are keeping their cars longer to avoid new car payments. This leads to many of these automobiles having higher mileage. Most automobile manufacturers recommend changing the engine oil and filter every 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. Neglecting to change an engines oil and filter can lead to some serious consequences like blowing an engines head gasket. Replacing the head gasket in an engine is very expensive. So obviously it’s important to keep the regularly scheduled oil change. A good oil filter and quality motor oil can save you a lot of money. It’s much easier and less expensive to get an oil change than it is to replace a head gasket.

A Hole in a Radiator Hose

A hole in a radiator hose allows coolant and/or water to escape the engine, which will cause a car to overheat. As the name implies, engine coolant helps keep a cars engine cool. Whether you use manufactured coolant or water to cool an engine, coolant levels have to be maintained in an engine or the engine will overheat. This is what happens when a hole in a radiator hose allows coolant to escape the cooling system.

Some Emergency Fixes

Tip #1 Sometimes holes in a hose are too small to be seen. Put a drop of dish soap in a bottle of water with a pump sprayer and spray your radiator hoses to find the hole.

Tip #2 If the radiator hose is leaking at one end, try cutting the end of the hose that’s leaking off and clamping the hose back on. Before you cut the hose be sure it’s long enough to be reattached after you cut it.

More Leaks

Engine oil works in a closed and pressurized system but the system has parts attached to it that need the help of rubberized seals to prevent leaks. For example an oil pan, and a head gasket are two such parts. The extreme temperature inside engines can eventually causes these seals to break down and begin to leak engine oil. Another of these parts is the oil pump that moves engine oil through the system. Oil pumps have bearings that seize up which causes the engine to lose oil. Today’s cars are deliberate to endure extreme temperatures and the wear and tear that comes with the extended life expectancy of today’s cars. But as with all man made machines, parts will fail at some point.

Bad Thermostat

A bad thermostat is another likely reason for a car to overheat. Thermostats are part of a car’s cooling system and serves to regulate the flow of coolant through the engine to cool it down as needed. A thermostat opens and closes to start and stop the flow of coolant through the cooling system. When a thermostat fails, or goes bad, coolant doesn’t circulate through to cool the engine block and your car overheats. Thermostats are usually pretty reliable but if you drive a vehicle long enough, the thermostat could stick and cause your car to overheat.

HowStuffWorks – Prevent & Repair Overheated Cars

A Hole in a Radiator

A hole in a radiator is another way for coolant to leak and cause an engine to run hot. Extreme temperatures, and metal fatigue are some of the causes of holes in radiators. Be careful about dismissing fender benders because you could sustain damage to your radiator that doesn’t become evident until later when you car overheats. If you rear end another driver and the two of you agree that no harm was done and you leave it at that, check your radiator closely to be sure that it didn’t sustain any damage.

K-Seal ST5501Multi Purpose One Step Sealant

ATP AT 205 Re-Seal Stops Leaks

So there are a number of reasons why a car would overheat. Sometimes, the problem is obvious but there are times when you may need a mechanic to find out why your car overheated. Any of the parts that make up the cooling system are capable of breaking down at anytime. Proper maintenance can help delay these breakdowns. So keep your car serviced to try to delay these failures that lead to your car overheating.

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