What to do if your engine
overheats whilst driving
When was the last time you checked the coolant level in your engine, or checked that the coolent hoses weren't leaking? If your engine overheats when you are driving along you could suddenly be confronted by steam billowing out from under your bonnet, you may not be able to see properly, and may even have an accident.
There are a couple of things that you should be aware of that may indicate a problem with your cooling system. Most cars will have an engine temperature guage, and under normal driving conditions this temperature will stay within certain limits. You should familiarise yourself with the normal running temperature of your engine so that a brief glance at the guage should be enough to warn you if it is starting to overheat.
If you notice that your car heater does not seem to be blowing hot air any more, this can also mean that the engine cooling system is not working properly. This is because most car heaters will derive the warm air from a heat exchanger linked to the engines cooling system.
These problems could be either be caused by leaks or blockages in the cooling system, or you have just not topped it up with coolant for a long time!
Sometimes on very hot days if you are stuck in a traffic jam, even a healthy cooling system will struggle to keep the engine cool. This is because the car radiator needs a flow of air over it (ie. you are moving!) in order to work. This situation can be helped by opening your windows and turning your heater on full to help remove some of the heat from the system.
You should always keep a bottle of water in your vehicle just in case you need to top up the coolant system yourself in an emergency. HOWEVER, always wait at least half an hour after you have stopped for the engine to cool down a little, and then using a thick cloth or towel, carefully take off the hot radiator cap at arms length. The cooling system will contain superheated steam and you could be badly scalded if you are not careful.
Carefully topping up your system from time to time like this may just enable you to get home, so you can get it checked out properly by a mechanic.
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