Why is My Car Overheating?


There may be several reasons why your car is overheating, but there’s only one thing to do in this situation: let your engine cool off! When you see a warning that your engine temperature is too high, pull over to the side of the road and turn off your engine. Attempting to drive an overheated car can cause engine damage and very expensive repairs.

Take an in-depth look at the possible causes of why your car is overheating in this helpful guide, then get the expert help you need at Bayway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram!

What Causes a Car to Overheat?

When you see the warning light that your engine temperature is too high, it’s time to start determining the cause of why your car is overheating. Here are some of the most common reasons a vehicle’s cooling system begins to fail:

  • Leaking Cooling System: Leaks are the #1 reason a vehicle begins to overheat. Leaks in hoses, the radiator, water pump, thermostat housing, heater core, head gasket, freeze plugs and a few other things can all lead to problems with the vehicle’s cooling system.
  • Coolant Hose Blockage: Dirt and debris from older coolant can cause build-up. If coolant can’t flow through your radiator, the heat from your engine can’t disperse into the air properly.
  • Improper Coolant Mixture: Using the correct type of coolant for your vehicle, as well as the correct mixture of coolant and distilled water, is important to prevent your car from overheating. Most cars require a 50/50 mixture of the two. Check your owner’s manual for your model’s specific requirements.
  • Bad Thermostat: Your thermostat is a valve in the cooling system that enables the coolant to pass through to the radiator when needed. If your thermostat becomes stuck in the closed position, coolant will no longer be able to pass through the radiator and your engine will overheat.
  • Broken Water Pump: Your water pump is the heart of your cooling system and if it’s not operating correctly, your vehicle won’t have enough pressure to force engine coolant throughout the cooling system. Problems with the pump can result from erosion or leaks and will cause your vehicle to overheat.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Handling an Overheated Car

Now that you know what can cause your engine to overheat, it’s important to know what you should do if you begin to notice a problem while driving local area roads. It’s equally important to the safety of you and your vehicle to also know what not to do. If you begin to notice a problem while you’re on the road, there are several things you should do right away:

  • Do turn off the AC immediately, then set the heat to full blast. Turning on the heat pulls dissipated heat away from the engine and forces it out the passenger cabin vents, helping to remove heat from your engine block.
  • Do pull over to the side of the road and turn off your car as soon as possible, waiting at least 30 minutes to pop the hood to avoid burns from overheated engine parts.
  • Once your vehicle is pulled over safely away from traffic, you’ll want to call Mopar Roadside Assistance, or an independent towing service, in order to get you to the nearest service center.
  • Don’t panic. Staying calm and finding a safe place to pull over will keep you and your vehicle out of harm’s way.
  • Don’t drive your car when it’s overheating. This can lead to long-term damage. While calling a towing service may seem costly, driving an overheated car can lead to very costly repairs from engine damage incurred.
  • Don’t attempt to remove the radiator cap. Steam and pressure build-up can cause severe burns.
  • Don’t drive far. If you decided to let your vehicle cool down instead of having it towed, do not drive it far. And don’t drive it anywhere but the nearest service center. An overheated car needs to be serviced ASAP.
  • Don’t hope your car gets better on its own.
  • Don’t try to fix it yourself, unless you’re a professional mechanic. Making the wrong move can be costly.

When to Visit Our Service Center

Coolant is usually red, green, blue, or yellow. If it looks colorless, rusty, or has debris in it, schedule a service appointment. There’s a good chance your car has an internal gasket leak. Driving is possible, but your engine is at risk of overheating and being severely damaged. The Bayway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram service center is committed to providing top-notch car maintenance, auto repairs, and fluid checks to drivers throughout the area. If you’re looking for a dedicated team with a reputation for excellence to care for your car, truck, SUV, or minivan, we are here for you.

Need More Engine Advice? Ask Bayway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram!

If you’re worried about your coolant concentration and haven’t kept up on regularly-scheduled vehicle maintenance, feel free to contact us at your convenience. Want to customize your Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, or Ram to make it your own? We have genuine Mopar accessories to enhance the interior and exterior styling and to customize your carrying and towing capabilities. We can even walk you through how to do a DIY tire rotation from home if you can’t make it to the service center.

Interested in learning about model features, or have questions about specials and availability in the Houston area? Feel free to contact us at your convenience to learn about our current incentives and to discover more about the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram lineups. We can answer all of your coolant and car repair needs.