Why Your Vehicle Could Overheat and What to Do if It Does

When your vehicle is overheating, the temperature gauge indicator will be in the red and your cluster display will light up and tell you that your engine is too hot. You’ll start seeing steam from beneath the hood and your cooling solution will be dripping or cascading to the ground below. Even after your engine finally cools down enough to be able to drive again, it may not be recommended to do so.

Below, we’ve gathered the reasons that your vehicle may be overheating, what to do when and if this happens to you, and some insight into how costly repair will be.

The Culprits Behind Engine Overheating

If you notice your vehicle overheating, it could be due to any of the following:

• A blockage in the radiator keeping antifreeze from flowing
• The thermostat is stuck, restricting coolant flow
• A plugged heater core, restricting coolant flow
• You’re low on engine coolant, most likely caused by a leak
• A failing water pump which can’t circulate the coolant
• A blown head gasket

What to Do When Your Vehicle Overheats

If you find yourself in the situation where your vehicle is overheating, it is incredibly important for you to pull over, turn off the engine, and allow the vehicle to cool down.

It is critical to let your vehicle cool down because the moment it begins to overheat, the longer that it’s allowed to keep overheating, damage which can be quite expensive and inconvenient will start setting in.

If it happens while you are driving slowly, there are times that if you are able to accelerate, it cools your engine off faster. However, if the gauge is in the red, no matter what, pull over and shut off the engine.

The Cost of Overheating Repairs

It goes without saying that the cost of having overheating damages repaired depends on how extensive the damage is. If you shut off the engine as soon as you noticed the overheating beginning, you likely minimized any potential damage that could have been done. But if there was steam coming from under the hood and coolant on the ground, you were likely too late and serious damage may have been done.

Minor repairs often end up costing around two hundred dollars or less, and can include:

• Replacing the heater hose
• Replacing the thermostat
• Repairs to cooling fan wires
• Flushing the antifreeze

Meanwhile, more serious repairs require more extensive work from five hundred up to fifteen hundred dollars and can include:

• Changing the heater core
• Replacing the head gasket
• Replacing the radiator
• Replacing the water pump

It’s important to note that specialty engines, including diesel, maybe more expensive – five thousand dollars or more.

Bonus: If you notice a burning smell but your gauge isn’t telling you that your engine is overheating, have it checked anyway, as it could be something serious in its own right.