Why is My Car Overheating?

Overheating car engine

If you’re curious about what causes a car to overheat, you’re in the right place. A car can overheat for a variety of reasons, from cooling system leaks to coolant issues to water pump issues and more. While most vehicles’ engines operate at a “normal” temperature between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, if you see your temperature gauge climbing above the normal temperature, pull over to a safe spot immediately and do not drive the car any further. Driving an overheating car is not only dangerous, but also can cause serious, irreversible engine damage. Let the experts at Santa Cruz Toyota help you figure out common causes for a car to overheat and what to do when a car overheats, then contact us if you have any additional questions.

What Does It Mean When Your Car Overheats?

When your car overheats, it likely means there’s a larger issue with the engine or cooling system at play. Here are some common reasons your car could be overheating:

  • Ensure your radiator cap is properly secured: Sometimes overheating can be caused by something as simple as a cap not being secured properly. Carefully check your radiator cap and secure it properly. It’s a good idea to check your other fluid caps as well while the hood is open. 
  • There’s a problem with your coolant: Your car requires a certain type of coolant as well as a certain ratio of water to coolant (usually 50/50) in order for its engine to work properly and stay at a healthy temperature. If you’re using the wrong grade coolant or it wasn’t mixed correctly with water, that could cause your car to overheat.
  • There’s a leak in the cooling system: This is, by and large, the most common reason for a car to overheat. Your car’s radiator, hoses, water pump, head gasket, and thermostat housing are all components of the cooling system, and over time they wear out, crack, and or can burst due to high temperatures and high pressures. Luckily, fixing a leak is often less expensive than other issues that could cause your car to overheat. 
  • There’s a blockage in the coolant hose: Coolant hoses can fill with dirt and debris, blocking your cooling system and causing your vehicle to overheat on Santa Cruz roads.
  • Your car’s water pump is broken: What does a water pump do? It sends engine coolant throughout your car’s cooling system. If there’s anything wrong with the water pump, including a leak, this can cause your car to overheat. 
  • There’s an issue with the radiator: Radiator issues, including blockages, fan issues, and leaks all could cause a car to overheat.

What to Do When a Car Overheats

If you’re not yet on the road when your vehicle overheats, turn it off and call for a tow. If you are already on the road:

  • If you’re running the air conditioning, turn it off and put the heat on full blast. While this may make you uncomfortable, it will help alleviate heat from the engine. 
  • Pullover to the side of the road as quickly as you can do safely. 
  • Once pulled over, do not attempt to pop the hood by hand for at least 30 minutes. 
  • We recommend calling the Santa Cruz Toyota service center for advice. At this point, your car will need to be sent to a mechanic.

Schedule Service at Santa Cruz Toyota When Your Car Overheats

The experienced Toyota trained service technicians at Santa Cruz Toyota have years of combined experience fixing cars that have overheated due to various reasons. If you’re looking to get your vehicle repaired quickly, affordably, and efficiently by the pros, contact us to schedule service. We’re happy to get you back onto the streets of Capitola and beyond safely with expert vehicle service tips and repairs! Be sure to check out our service specials to save more on your next repair.

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