As we all know, some like it hot. But, the truth is that most cars don’t. And since it’s that time of the year again, when things heat up a little, you need to take steps to prevent vehicle overheating.
Generally speaking, a vehicle overheating is one of those problems that an everyday motorist cannot do much about. Not as it happens, that is. That’s because, most of the time, the driver will not have the knowledge, resources or tools at hand to do something useful about it. You really need a mechanic at that point.
And let’s be clear about this. If a vehicle overheats just once — and if its severe enough — it can permanently damage the engine. And this means big repair costs at the auto repair shop. Bad news. Alongside summer driving hazards, keeping a close eye on potential vehicle overheating should be top of mind during this period.
The good news, especially for fleet managers however, is that vehicle overheating can be prevented. Quite simply, and via a number of ways, actually. In this post, we’ll try to cover the main ways to prevent vehicle overheating and steps to take if it does happen.
Vehicle overheating – Why does it happen?
First of all, what can cause vehicle overheating? The most common reason isn’t actually hot temperatures. It’s low coolant levels in the vehicle’s engine. There are quite a few more reasons for it, though. Let’s have a look at them:
Top reasons for vehicle overheating
1. Low coolant or faulty cooling system.
In the summer months, if you don’t check the coolant levels, you’ll be in trouble. Every vehicle has a cooling system to help keep the temperature of the engine down; and coolant plays a major part in that. That said, if your coolant is showing full but the engine is still overheating, then it could be that the system has a leak or a blockage issue.
2. Overuse of A/C
Using the air conditioning too much can cause the engine to go into overdrive; especially on long drives.
3. Overuse of vehicle
This could be due to a number of reasons. For example, increased shifts for drivers and vehicles during warmer months, an increased need for deliveries, and also careless drivers or poor service/maintenance.
4. Vehicle thermostat
This vital device regulates the amount of coolant which flows through the engine. If it gets damaged, then this can cause vehicle overheating.
5. Low motor oil
A classic case, especially for older vehicles. The oil is not just there to lubricate the engine’s moving parts. It’s also there to take the excess heat away from the engine. Your vehicle can run too hot if the oil is low, especially in summer months when it may turn to burn more oil.
6. Radiator cooling fan
Last but not least, a faulty cooling fan can be a main cause for vehicle overheating. If it is not coming on or is running at a lower-than-normal level, your engine will struggle to cool down.
Is that all?
By no means are the above reasons the only causes for vehicle overheating. So, that’s why it’s a good idea to make sure you know of a reliable mechanic, who can help you diagnose issues related to engine overheating. A good mechanic can also reveal a few tricks of the trade that you can try out, to prevent it. You may want to be more up-to-speed with your vehicle’s status, using diagnostics. An app like Veturilo can help you identify issues, before you have to go to a repair shop.
Symptoms of a vehicle overheating
- One symptom might be the vehicle heater not getting warm, indicating that the engine’s thermostat is stuck closed or that coolant is running low
- A glance at the temperature gauge can also help. If the temperature gauge is higher than normal, you need to get it checked out
- Also, the temperature warning light may come on. If this happens, then you know it’s serious
- The same goes for a sudden burst of steam from under the hood, which is usually a sign that a radiator hose has blown.
- Also, an overheated vehicle might stall more frequently
Vehicle overheating problems and their effects
The obvious effect of vehicle overheating can be damage to the engine. For businesses, this means unplanned repair costs. But it will probably mean the vehicle in question will have to be withdrawn from service for a while, as well. The knock-on effects of that are often the most problematic for businesses that run fleets. Why? Because it could mean consequences, such as delayed deliveries or service calls.
Before you get to that point, however, there’s also the issue of basic safety — for both drivers and/or passengers and cargo — depending on the type of business. In order to keep a close eye on things like temperature warning lights or the engine light, it’s useful for fleet managers or small business owners who run a fleet to use a fleet management solution. Again, with Veturilo you can get your vehicle’s engine warning notifications on your phone. That way, you can monitor vehicles closely and act fast when problems crop up.
How can you prevent vehicle overheating?
What are some of those trade secrets about preventing your vehicle(s) from overheating, then? try these ’9 commandments’ for size:
1. Coolant is king
First and foremost, make sure you regularly check the coolant levels in your vehicle(s); and top it up during the summer months.
2. Always park in the shade
An obvious one; which is often forgotten; when you are in a hurry. Parking in the shade not only keeps your vehicle cool — inside the cabin and under the hood — but it can also give it more longevity. If you can’t find a shady spot, try to use window shades.
3. Black out
Tinted windows are not just for celebrities and/or mobsters. Getting your windows tinted will keep your car cool. They’ll keep the interior from getting discolored because of too much sun. And hey, they may even make your vehicle that much more stylish. Just make sure you know how much tinting is allowed where you live or work.
4. Breathing space
As Leonard Cohen’s famous song says, ‘there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’. Well, the same goes for fresh and cool air, when you leave your car windows open a tiny bit when parked. When they’re closed shut, no air can escape, which means the inside of your car will be like a greenhouse. Not to mention, burning hot when you come back to it after it’s been parked in the sun for a few hours. So, leave them slightly open. And if you have a sunroof, crack it open as well. Just make sure any occasional clouds don’t look too menacing.
5. Turn on the the floor air vents
As soon as we get in a warm car, most of us will tend to crank up the A/C via the dashboard fans which blow into our face. But here’s the trick. You’re actually much better off directing the air through the floor vents. Why? As we all (should) know, heat rises. Opening the floor vents will make a quicker job of clearing up all that heat.
6. Keep that A/C fresh
Try to use the fresh air setting on your A/C instead if the re-circulation option. Otherwise, when you first turn it on you will simply be moving all of that hot, trapped air around your vehicle. That will make it all that more difficult for your cabin to cool down.
7. Eyes on the temperature
As we pointed out earlier, do not overestimate the importance of keeping a close check on your temperature gauge. It should always be pointing toward the center, or just above the center in the summer months. If that needle — or digital gauge starts going north, you know what to do. Pull over, turn off the engine and allow the car cool down. It wouldn’t hurt to make a quick inspection of the radiator’s components, just to be on the safe side.
8. Use heat to stay cool
It may seem a paradox, but turning on the heat can help cool your engine. Yes, it may be the last thing you want to do on a hot summer’s day. It pulls the hot air from the engine compartment and right into the cabin. But it helps cool the engine down. This is a useful one for long drives. Especially when you’re far from the lights of civilization.
One thing you can do at the start of the summer, is have your radiator flushed by a mechanic. That’s because, even if you manage to keep your engine coolant at the right levels, lots of dirt can still get in, over time. Getting a radiator flush every 30,000-40,000 miles is recommended by most manufacturers. But obviously, always check your vehicle’s manual first. The numbers may differ.
You didn’t read the whole article? Your loss. Skim reading should be illegal. But, as it is, we might as well recap, for your indulgence. Besides, we’re only here to help!
Vehicle overheating is one of the most prominent reasons for engine failure. If it’s a business car, this means downtime; something to be carefully avoided. So, make sure you check your engine fluids regularly, don’t overuse the A/C — or your vehicle, for that matter — and try to park in the shade. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge, at all times and pull over immediately if you see that indicator heading north. Pop the hood, allow the engine some breathing time and do a quick inspection. When you’re good to go, be sure to drive at low RPM. Better safe than sorry!
And make sure to give Veturilo a try. It would have given you a nudge long before you had to deal with a breakdown. And it would be a much better day if you didn’t have to deal with blown hoses or radiator caps and wait for the tow truck for 2 hours. Wouldn’t it?