Common Causes for Overheating Engines
No Coolant – This is the number one cause for an engine that has begun to overheat. Always be sure to keep a spare bottle of coolant, also known as radiator fluid, in your trunk. If your vehicle gets low on a particularly long road trip or hot day, you can top off your radiator with more coolant. If more coolant works at first, but later the engine overheats again, you could have a coolant leak. Although more fluid solves the immediate problem, it is a sign that your vehicle probably needs some other types of fluid refills and flushes, including brake fluid, motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, and more.
Defective Coolant Fan – Sometimes you have enough coolant, but the fan is not working properly. When the coolant fan is not running, it will not cool down the coolant running through the radiator and engine like it is designed to do. This is generally caused by a faulty fan motor, but can also be caused by a bad radiator switch. If your car engine begins to overheat, you can lift your hood and take a look at your coolant fan to see if it is running or not. They are usually located right on or near the radiator.
Broken Fan Belt – Like your coolant fan, your engine’s fan belt plays a major role in controlling temperature. It is one of the most common causes of a reoccurring overheating engine. The worst part about a broken fan belt is that it is often a first indication of other engine malfunctions and needed engine repairs. Most people can tell they have a broken fan belt by simply looking at their engine from under the hood.
Observe Your Driving to Pinpoint the Problem
To better figure out what’s causing the overheating, think about the type of driving you are doing when it occurs. Is your car engine overheating at stoplights or on the highways at high speeds? This information can give you clues as to why your car overheats. If the vehicle is overheating during an idle or stopped position, this could point to the electric cooling fan motor. This component is located near the radiator. To check for faultiness, run the vehicle’s air conditioner and listen for the fan to start. If the fan doesn’t turn on, it may be from a faulty sensor or the fan in general. If your car is overheating at high speeds, it could be anything from a kinked radiator hose to a defective thermostat. It is best to have a professional mechanic inspect your vehicle to accurately determine the issue.