What Are The Causes of Car Overheat, Its Effects, and How To Deal With It?

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Car Overheat

Car overheat is a condition where the car’s engine temperature rises above the normal limit and is at an unsafe level. This can be caused by various factors such as lack of engine coolant, damage to the cooling system, overloading, or extreme conditions such as high air temperatures or traffic jams.

Overheating in cars can cause serious damage to the engine and can entail high repair costs if not dealt with quickly and appropriately. Through this article TransTRACK, we will learn about what causes overheat, how to deal with it, the impact, solutions, and how much it will cost to fix it. Check out the following article for more details!

Causes of Overheat in Cars

There are many causes of engine overheating, ranging from low coolant to a faulty water pump. Keep in mind that overheating can cause serious damage to the engine and should be addressed immediately. If your car overheats, you should immediately take it to a repair shop for inspection and repair. Let’s explore the most common causes of this frustrating mechanical failure.

1. Faulty Thermostat

The engine thermostat must open at a certain temperature for coolant to flow into the radiator for cooling. This temperature usually ranges from 82 to 93 degrees Celsius.

Over time and due to not changing the coolant regularly, buildup of dirt, corrosion, and other debris from the coolant system can cover the thermostat, preventing it from properly detecting the coolant temperature. In some cases, the thermostat fails mechanically and won’t open. In either case, this leaves coolant stuck in the engine, resulting in the engine overheating relatively quickly.

Signs of a bad thermostat are bloated radiator and heater hoses. You’ll also notice the coolant reservoir is constantly at the “Full Cold” mark and never reaches the “Full Hot” line.

2. Water Pump Failure

Over time, the water pump bearings, impellers, and other components can fail, preventing it from pushing coolant. Without this pump, the flow of coolant to the radiator is stopped, causing overheating.  

Signs of a faulty water pump include metal chips in the coolant, grinding sounds from the front of the engine, and coolant leaking from the front of the engine.

3. Faulty Radiator Fan

The radiator fan has the important job of drawing air over the coolant as it passes through the radiator, reducing its temperature. If this fan stops working, the coolant temperature will only drop slightly as it passes through the radiator, which can lead to overheating as it passes through the engine.

Damaged fan blades, a faulty fan motor, damaged wiring, or a faulty fan clutch can cause the radiator fan to malfunction.

If you notice your fan never turns on or spins slower than usual, this may be an indicator of your fan failing.

4. Faulty Temperature Sensor

In vehicles with electric fans, the temperature sensor sends power to the fan when the coolant reaches a certain temperature, activating the fan to lower the coolant temperature. If this sensor fails, the fan will not get the electricity it needs to operate, causing the car engine to overheat.

5. Low Coolant Level

With low coolant, the cooling system cannot effectively absorb heat from the engine and cool it down. This can lead to overheating, although it generally requires very low coolant before it becomes too hot to be noticeable.

Signs of a low coolant level are when the temperature gauge reads slightly higher than normal, but not yet in the overheating range, and the coolant does not read “Full Hot” or “Full Cold” in the reservoir.

Cars don’t use coolant like gasoline. So, if your coolant level is low, there is most likely a coolant leak. Keep in mind, not all coolant leaks occur outside – they can also occur inside the engine. For example, a broken head gasket, which seals the cylinder head to the engine, can cause coolant to leak into the cylinder or oil system.

6. Blockage in the Cooling System

Over time, corrosion and other debris in the cooling system can cause buildup that clogs the cooling system passages, especially in poorly maintained cars. This can block the flow of engine coolant, resulting in overheating.

7. Airflow Restriction

The radiator fan must draw fresh, cool air through the radiator fins to lower the engine coolant temperature. Without proper airflow, the coolant temperature will not be low enough, resulting in overheating. Blockages in the radiator can cause this.

Some common items that clog radiators include plastic bags, leaves, and cardboard. Physical damage to the radiator that partially or completely blocks the passage through the fins can also cause this.

8. Low Oil Level

Your car’s motor oil is responsible for lubrication, and if the level is too low, this can lead to heat buildup. If the excess heat is too great due to lack of lubrication, the coolant may not lower the temperature enough, leading to overheating.

What to Do When the Car Overheats?

If you see the engine temperature warning light come on or there is smoke coming out of the front of your car, chances are your engine is overheating. To help you in this situation, here are some steps you can take.

1. Stay calm

The most important thing to do when your car overheats is not to panic. If you’re driving on the highway, don’t slam on the brakes. Instead, pay attention to your surroundings and slowly pull your car to the side of the road so you can assess the situation. Turn off all electrical components while you do this to minimize the stress on your engine.

2. Stop at a safe location and turn off your engine

If your engine temperature warning light comes on or the temperature gauge needle is in the red zone, do not continue driving. Driving while your engine is overheating could result in greater damage to your engine or even cause a fire. Instead, pull over at a safe location. If there is a repair shop or parking lot nearby, you can park there instead of on the roadside. Also, turn off your engine and all electrical components as it may cause further stress on the engine.

3. Do not open the hood immediately

After you stop, wait for the engine to cool down or the temperature gauge to return to normal levels before opening the hood. If you open the hood too soon, you risk getting burned or injuring yourself as there are still hot vapors or fumes waiting to escape.

4. Add water and have your car checked

Once your engine has cooled down, you can refill the water in the radiator as a temporary fix. This may be enough to start the engine briefly. If you are able to start the car after the engine cools down, take it to the nearest repair shop immediately. Be sure to drive slowly and keep an eye on the temperature gauge. If the temperature rises again, pull over and let your engine cool down before continuing. If you can’t start your engine, get a tow truck to tow your car to a repair shop. By having your car checked at a repair shop, you can identify exactly why your engine is overheating and fix it before it develops into a bigger problem.

What are the Effects of Car Engine Overheat

Overheating in a car engine can have serious and damaging effects on the engine, including:

  1. Damage to engine components: Overheating can cause engine components such as head gaskets, pistons, or cylinder heads to wear out or even break. This damage can result in high repair costs and even necessitate engine replacement.
  2. Decreased engine performance: Overheat can cause damage to the engine, which in turn can cause the engine to not run properly or even shut down.
  3. Increase in fuel costs: If the engine overheats regularly, this can lead to a decrease in fuel efficiency and result in higher fuel costs.
  4. Damage to the cooling system: If the engine overheats regularly, it may cause damage to the cooling system such as the radiator, radiator fan, thermostat, or water pump.
  5. Unsafe to drive: If the engine overheats while the car is being driven, it can cause the car to stop suddenly and result in an accident.

Therefore, it is important to deal with overheat problems in car engines immediately to prevent further damage and higher repair costs.

Solutions to Fix Car Overheat

There are several solutions to fix overheat problems in cars, including:

  1. Add coolant: If the overheat problem is caused by a lack of engine coolant, then the solution is to add the appropriate coolant.
  2. Check and repair the cooling system: If the overheat problem is caused by damage to the cooling system, then the solution is to check and repair the cooling system. This may include replacing the damaged radiator, radiator fan, thermostat, or water pump.
  3. Change the right oil: If the overheat problem is caused by poor oil quality, then the solution is to change the right engine oil.
  4. Avoid overloading and extreme conditions: If the overheat problem is caused by working in extreme or overloaded conditions, then the solution is to avoid such conditions and give the engine a break.
  5. Repair damage to engine components: If the overheat problem is caused by damage to the engine components, then the solution is to repair or replace the damaged engine components.

However, if the overheat problem in the car occurs regularly or too often, you should take the car to a repair shop to be checked thoroughly and find the root cause of the overheat problem.

How Much Does Car Overheat Repair Cost?

The cost of overheat repair in cars can vary depending on the type and level of damage that occurs in the car. Some factors that affect the cost of overheat repair in cars include:

  1. The extent of the damage: The more serious the damage done to the car’s engine, the higher the repair cost will be.
  2. Type of car: The cost of overheat repair in cars can also differ depending on the make, model, and age of the car.
  3. Damaged components: The cost of overheat repair in cars also depends on the damaged component, such as the head gasket, piston, cylinder head, radiator, or water pump.
  4. Location of the repair shop: Car overheat repair costs can vary depending on the location of the repair shop, with urban areas usually costing more than rural areas.

In general, the cost of overheat repair in cars can range from several hundred thousand rupiah to several million rupiah, depending on the factors above. Therefore, it is best to check your car regularly and deal with car overheat problems as soon as possible to avoid more expensive repair costs in the future.

Car overheating can be fixed with the methods described above. However, it is better if you use the  Fleet Management System from TransTRACK for the best solution for fleet users. You can control all movements and repairs of the fleet using just one system from TransTRACK. Use FMS and optimize the performance of your fleet using TransTRACK FMS!


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