How Do I Know If My Car Is Overheating?

How do I know if my car is overheating?

One of the top causes of expensive engine failure is overheating due to cooling system failures. It is important for you and especially younger drivers to understand the gauges and warning lights your vehicle has.  As the owner of an auto repair shop, I have seen some of the most expensive car repairs stem from a young driver not paying attention to or understanding the overheat warning their vehicle gives them…until it is too late.

Image of temperature warning light on 2016 dodge Ram at Shadetree Automotive Layton Utah

            Most cars and trucks are equipped with a temperature gauge.  This allows you to constantly monitor the temperature of your engine.  For most vehicles, normal engine temperature is a range between 195 degrees and 220 degrees.  If your car or truck has a gauge that displays the temperature, it is safe to assume the 195 to 220-degree range is normal for your vehicle. Your vehicle’s exact specifications are easily found with a little bit of research or by referring to the owner’s manual. Vehicles equipped with a temperature gauge will almost always have a noticeable red line to warn you when your engine is too hot. Do not ignore this and continue to drive. Continuing to let your engine run once the temperature gauge reaches the red will most likely lead to major engine damage.  Head gasket failures or even complete engine failures.  If you notice your temperature gauge getting close to the red mark, please pull over and turn your engine off as soon as it is safe to do so.

image of high temperature gauge on truck. Shadetree Automotive Layton Utah

            For vehicles not equipped with a temperature gauge, they will have an over-temperature warning light. This is a light that will illuminate in the dash once your vehicle’s engine temperature has exceeded the maximum preferred temperature.  This is not a warning light to ignore.  If this light ever comes on, as soon as it is safe, pull the vehicle over and turn the engine off.  Failure to do so will allow engine temperatures to climb and cause major engine damage or failure.

            There are many parts in your car or truck cooling system that can cause it to overheat. Most cooling system repairs are fairly easy and inexpensive. The key is, to catch them before they lead to much bigger problems! Most cooling system issues are caused by a leak. Radiator hose connections, radiator cap failures and Radiator seems are amongst the most commonly seen.  It is also very common for your vehicle’s water pump to start leaking from what is called a weep hole. Once again, these are all fairly easy and inexpensive repairs if caught in a timely manner before you overheat your engine.

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