If your car has had engine problems in the past or is old, you may be worried about your engine overheating. If so, below is information about what you should do if this does happen to you, as well as two things that can cause it.
What to Do
The temperature gauge inside your car displays markings with a blue line at the bottom, which indicates a cold engine, and a red line at the top, which indicates a hot engine. If your engine is running normally, the needle should be in the middle or close to it. Once it goes past the middle it is time to have the engine checked.
If the line does start moving up towards the red line pull your car over safely and turn the engine off to let it cool down. If you continue to drive the car, the engine would completely go down, which would result in expensive engine repair or replacement.
Give the engine twenty to thirty minutes to completely cool down. How long this take depends on how hot the engine is and how long you have been driving your car. Never open the hood and touch any part of the engine until it is cool, or you would sustain third-degree burns.
After twenty to thirty minutes, start your car. If the line stays in the middle, drive it home if your home is within a few miles. If not or the needle immediately goes past the middle, you need to call a tow truck to tow your car either home or to an auto repair service.
Causes of Engine Overheating
There are many things that can cause an engine to overheat including:
If your car has a radiator leak, you will notice a puddle of green or orange fluid underneath the car after it has sat for an hour or longer. The radiator hose may also be faulty, which is an inexpensive and quick repair. If the problem is due to the actual radiator, this may be a simple fix; just repair the leak or replace the radiator if necessary.
If there are no leaks and the radiator hose checks out fine, the problem could be with low oil. Check this with the dipstick. If you find there is low oil, this can cause the engine to overheat because oil removes a large percentage of heat from the engine. Add oil to the car, then you should notice the line goes back to the middle on the temperature gauge. Because you had low oil, there is likely a leak somewhere that is causing this, so you need to have it checked.
The overheating could be due to more serious problems, such as a cracked engine block or a blown head gasket. These two problems are expensive repairs, and you may also need to have the entire engine rebuilt or replaced.
Talk with a mechanic, as they can give you more information about this to help you in case your engine overheats.