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Car Overheating? Here’s Why!

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

Table of Contents

It’s no secret that cars are complicated machines. They are constructed of thousands of parts, and each part is vital to its performance and reliability. But this also means that there’s a huge potential for mechanical failure.

Anyone who’s ever owned a car understands that car problems can happen at any time. After all, your engine is under tremendous pressure and runs at high temperatures. This means that it can overheat.

This article takes a look at some of the most common reasons for your car overheating. Keep reading to gain a better understanding of why your car might run hot and how to prevent this from happening. 

Water Pump Failure

Your water pump is an essential part of your car’s cooling system. If the pump goes out, you’ll quickly run into problems. 

What does the purpose of the water pump? Basically, it’s job is to create the force that circulates coolant from your radiator to the rest of your engine. In most vehicles, the water pump is located behind the radiator, and in many vehicles the timing belt must be removed to replace the pump, making the repair a bit challenging.

Keep in mind that the water pump will typically only cost around fifty dollars, but the replacement process itself could take several hours, even for an experienced mechanic.

Broken Thermostat

The thermostat in your car is an interesting little part. You can typically purchase a new thermostat for around ten dollars, and yet a broken thermostat could cause your engine to overheat, resulting in very expensive repairs.

A thermostat is nothing fancy, but it’s a vital part of the cooling system. It functions by simply releasing coolant from the radiator into your engine once the engine reaches a certain critical temperature.

The thermostat features a rubber gasket that can easily go bad, and when it does, your vehicle will overheat in a hurry.

Fortunately, replacing the thermostat is a rather basic repair that requires only a few common tools. Thus you can perform the repair yourself if you prefer to save money rather than taking your car to a trained mechanic.

Blocked or Cracked Radiator

The radiator in your car holds the coolant that gets circulated through the engine block when the engine gets hot. It’s really nothing more than a reservoir for the coolant, and yet a problem with your radiator will quickly cause major problems in your engine. 

The key to preventing clogs or blockages in your radiator is to flush it with water at least once a year. You can accomplish this by removing the plug at the bottom of the radiator, draining the coolant, and then flushing it with a water hose. You will then need to replace the plug and refill the radiator with coolant.

A crack in the radiator will cause leaks, which will result in your engine overheating. Small cracks might be able to be sealed with a special liquid that gums up the crack, but if the crack is too big, the radiator with likely need to be replaced.  

Busted Radiator Hose 

The radiator hose is the part of the coolant system that connects the radiator to your engine block. As the engine heats up, the coolant can get hot and put tremendous pressure on the radiator hose. 

Once the pressure becomes too much, the pressure can cause the hose to burst, resulting in a coolant leak. This will typically result in a steamy hot mess, and you’ll have to immediately pull to the side of the road and wait until your engine temperature cools enough to address the problem.

Keep in mind that allowing your engine to overheat is dangerous, but can also ruin your engine very quickly. Because once it reaches a certain temperature, the resulting damage could become too severe for repairs.

It’s also important to remember that a busted radiator hose cannot be fixed. Thus it will need to be replaced. Fortunately, a new radiator hose shouldn’t cost more than about thirty dollars.

Loose Hose Clamp

Radiator hose clamps are small metal parts located at both ends of the radiator hose. These clamps are designed to squeeze the ends of the hose so that they won’t slip out of position from the radiator or the engine block.

Hose clamps are inexpensive parts that can cause major problems with the coolant system if the break or become loose. So take the time to check your hose clamps periodically, and tighten them if necessary. 

Lack of Coolant

One of the easiest ways to keep your car from overheating is to make your that your radiator has plenty of coolant. As long as your radiator or radiator hose doesn’t have a leak, you should be fine. But you’d be wise to get in the habit of checking your coolant level at least once a week.

During both the summer and winter months, keeping your radiator topped off with coolant can make the difference between an uneventful drive to work or a day you’d rather forget.

Blown Head Gasket

A blown head gasket will result in expensive engine repairs. That’s because it’s very common for car engines to quickly overheat when the head gasket goes out. The most common causes of a blown head gasket are low coolant and a damaged engine.

Common Reasons for Your Car Overheating

It’s no secret that your car engine produces a lot of heat. That’s why the coolant system is so important for keeping everything running smoothly. Fortunately, this article can help reduce the odds of your car overheating by showing you things to keep an eye on.

Click here to see the 5 most valuable car parts to scrap.

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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