Is Your Car Overheating? How To Identify & Deal With The Coolant Problems?

Is Your Car Overheating? How To Identify & Deal With The Coolant Problems?

How To Identify & Deal With The Coolant Problems

It’s obvious when a car runs, the fuel burns, and heat is produced in the combustion process. But what if the heat is not exhausted? The engine will stop working after a while and can create some serious damage. 

So, that’s where the cooling system comes into play. It circulates the coolant in the vehicle which regulates the optimum temperature in the vehicle.

Does your car heat up after driving for a few minutes? To keep your car running in a healthy condition, and avoid long-term damages, you need to check if you are using the right coolant.

Just imagine, you are going to a beach with friends and suddenly your car stops with disaster strikes. The engine has started producing smoke and you all are pulling the car.  Although it’s an iconic scene in many movies, is it annoying and tiring at the same time?

Is your car engine overheating even with the coolant? To learn how to deal with such situations, read this comprehensive guide.

The Role Of Cooling System

The Cooling system ensures the excess heat produced in the engine is absorbed or exhausted. Also, it makes sure the other mechanical parts are not damaged. 

Generally, the car temperature with a coolant is about 200 degrees. Whereas without this antifreeze fluid, the engine temperature can reach beyond 400 degrees F.

Why Does The Cooling System Fail?

There may be some cases when even the vehicle starts overheating even if your vehicle has enough coolant. The reason can be anything:

  • Low Coolant level
  • The coolant might have expired and need to be refilled.
  • The coolant doesn’t match your vehicle. 

Sometimes, it’s not the coolant that causes the problem, it can be the mechanical failure of any of the other components such as

  • Thermostat
  • water pump
  • serpentine belt
  • Radiator
  • Fuses
  • cooling fan, or a
  • an airflow issue

Is It Safe To Drive An Overheating Car?

Of course not! But still, if your car is still running that means the issue has not worsened and the problem can be diagnosed. It is suggested to take the car immediately to a car repair center to prevent major losses. If you have already identified the problem and are still taking the risk to drive your car. Then, let us tell you there is a high chance that the engine will warp and repair will cost you several bucks.

How To Identify If Your Engine Is Overheating?

You can prevent irreversible damage if you already know the signs of engine overheating. Some of the common reasons are:

  • Smoke/Steam is produced from the car hood.
  • The Engine temperature gauge symbols turn red. The symbols may vary in different car models. You can check your car manual.
  • You’ll sense a strange kind of burnt smell from the engine side. 
  • If you sense a sweet smell, it is usually because of leaking coolant.

If you notice any of these signs or indications, it is recommended to immediately seek a car repair shop.

Do’s: What To Do When Car Engine Overheats?

1. Turn Off The A/C And Crank The Heat

The first thing you need to do is to switch off your AC. The engine can’t handle the stress when overheated which may lead to serious damage to other mechanical parts. 

The next step is to turn ON the dial to maximum heat. You may experience some heat in the car. But it will help absorb the excess heat from the engine. Also, it will save you from spending on major engine repairs.

2. Plan To Pull Over Your Car

If your car engine has stopped working, it’s obvious that you’ll have to pull over the car. But first, let the engine cool down for 15-20 minutes. Also, check if the temperature gauge has moved back to normal.

In the meanwhile, you can plan to pull over the car. Call a tow truck, or a friend or find local help if any.

3. Check The Coolant Level & Other Components

Check if the coolant is finished or needs to be replaced. We always recommend travelers keep a best coolant in their automobiles and also learn the technique to add coolant in the vehicle. A quick top-off can prevent the engine from overheating. 

The next thing is to ensure whether the coolant hose is clogged or if there is some other mechanical problem. Is it a broken radiator fan or a water pump that is creating the problem?

Pro Tip:  Always keep your car manual to find the exact location of the coolant reservoir tank.

4. Try Restarting The Engine

Stuck on the highway? Didn’t get any help to tow your car? Well, then it’s time to restart your car and take it to the nearby mechanic shop.
Keep checking the temperature gauge symbols while driving the car. Take a break, and allow the system to cool down. Start over or pull the car if required. Don’t worry! It happens with most travelers.

Don’ts: What Not To Do When Engine Overheats?

1. Don’t Panic!

Nothing is going to work out if you panic or worry. Keep your calm, relax and think what is the next step to deal with this situation. If you are stuck somewhere in traffic, you can ask for help to pull the car. Avoid taking your car to high-traffic areas rather call a nearby repair shop.

2. Don’t Drive

If you have sensed some sort of pungent or burnt smell, stop driving immediately. Turn off the AC to reduce the load on the engine. If your engine is still running, take your car immediately to the car mechanic to avoid irreversible damage.

3. Don’t Pop-Up The Hood Instantly

It’s strictly recommended to not open the car hood immediately to find the issue. There is always a risk of burns & injuries due to smoke or immediate smoke generated. Wait for a while and let the engine temperature gauge settle back to normal.

4. Don’t Delay The Problem

After you have diagnosed the issue, don’t linger on the repair. Even if you have resolved the issue or changed the coolant. Don’t leave it unaddressed, make sure to deeply analyze the source of the problem. We suggest taking your car to a car repair store for a complete vehicle inspection and fixing the problem permanently to avoid the issue in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common issues with water pump belts?

It is also called a serpentine belt. It generates power for the steering and electrical system to run smoothly. Some of the most common problems like Breaking, Loose/ Worn out belts or Whining belt noises can slow down the engine performance.

What are the signs of a failing radiator?

1. Your car/ automobile will start overheating 
2. Burning or leaking coolant smell.
3. Car AC will produce heat instead of cool air.
4. Warning signs may appear on the engine gauge.
5. You’ll find built-up sludge in the radiator. 
6. Low coolant levels will be displayed.


Airflow along with the coolant helps the car engine to operate at a smooth temperature. In case of Airflow failure, your car will start overheating even if the level of coolant is optimum and it is of good quality.

Wrapping up

Your buddies may leave you but your car will never leave if taken proper care of. We have discussed the best ways to deal with engine overheating. Always stay updated with your car by doing coolant flushes and exchanges to maintain radiator performance regularly can prevent major expenses. We always recommend regular inspections to diagnose any potential issues and fix them before they get worse.

Did you like our car repair advice? You can leave suggestions below in the comment box.