It’s freezing, and you’re sitting at the side of the road with smoke billowing out of your engine because your car’s overheating.
To add to your misery, you have to wait for roadside assistance, and if there’s nowhere around for you to keep warm, it can be a long, cold wait.
It may not seem like an obvious occurrence, but cars can overheat in cold weather. And while it’s the last thing you want, we’re going to teach you why engines overheat and what to do if your engine overheats.
Why Does My Engine Keep Overheating?
Your car won’t overheat because it’s cold, there’s always a reason for it. And it could be one of these:
Water Pump Failure - the water pump isn’t circulating engine coolant which causes the engine to overheat.
Blocked Radiator - if antifreeze isn’t flowing through your radiator, heat can’t pass through into the air filter.
Jammed Thermostat - thermostats regulate your engine temperature, and low-cost thermostats often block the flow of air coolant to the engine, causing it to overheat.
Low/Leaking Coolant - if your coolant is too low or the coolant is leaking, the engine won’t cool properly.
Blown Head Gasket - a head gasket can be both the cause and the result of your engine overheating. If the engine overheats, this can cause the head gasket to blow, or the head gasket can fail.
Plugged Heater Core - The heater in your car can cause the engine to overheat if the coolant flow is restricted.
What to Do if Your Engine Overheats
You may notice your engine overheating in a couple of ways; you may see smoke coming from your bonnet, or your dashboard warning light may come on.
If either of these scenarios occurs, pull over in a safe place, get out of your car and ask any pedestrians to step away, too.
Open the bonnet from inside the cabin if you can, this will help the smoke escape from the engine. Remember, the hood may be hot, so take care not to burn yourself.
Leave the engine to sit for at least 30-minutes to cool down.
When you’re sure the engine is cool, check the coolant tank near the radiator. If it’s run out you could have a leak, so check for signs underneath your car - like a puddle or wet patch on the ground (although this is hard to do when it’s raining, so check for drippage).
If you have coolant, you could fill your tank up with part coolant part water. If you think it isn’t a coolant problem, wait for help.
Get Prepared for Winter
The winter months can be harsh on your vehicle, and the worst-case scenario is breaking down. Read some of these articles and get yourself ready for the winter period: