This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.
The summer sun is in full force, and just like your body heats up with the high temperatures, so does your car. Overheating can typically be attributed to low coolant, long drives and congested traffic in the heat, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
You can do a few things to prevent overheating, such as check the battery, service the coolant and check the radiator for corrosion. But should you ever get stuck in an overheating vehicle, we tracked down the advice you’ll need to cool down and get back on the road safely.
Monitor Your Car’s Temperature
While driving, keep your eye on the temperature gauge. The Car Care Council (CCC) says once the engine is warmed up, the needle should usually fall at a stopping point in the middle between cold and hot.
Adjust AC and Heat
If you don’t see any steam spewing from your hood, but your temperature gauge is climbing toward hot, you can turn off the air conditioner to give your engine a breather. If this doesn’t help, put your heater on full blast, which will help to redirect heat away from the engine, according to the CCC.
If your car is overheating – which will likely be indicated by fog-like smoke coming from your hood – pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine, the NSC says.
Check the Coolant
Once you’ve pulled over, wait there for a few minutes. Don’t open the hood until the car has completely cooled or the temperature gauge has moved from hot to cool. Once the car’s cooled down, check the amount of coolant – the fluid that absorbs heat from the engine and then dissipates it through the radiator, according to Car Talk. Check out your owner’s manual if you are unsure where the coolant reservoir tank is located. Before twisting the radiator cap with a rag, try to be sure it’s cool, and watch out for any steam while you open it (treat it carefully, like a shaken can of soda). The coolant should be filled to the top of the radiator; if it’s low or empty, fill it to the top, but know this could be an indicator that there may be a coolant leak, in which case you should see a mechanic as soon as possible.
Head to the Hoses
Next, you’ll want to inspect the upper and lower radiator hoses to see that they’re not disconnected, blocked or busted, according to NSC. You’ll recognize the upper radiator hose because it runs from the radiator to the motor. The lower hose may be more difficult to locate – it’s smaller and leads from the radiator into the car’s heat wall. Inspect the hoses to be sure they are not swollen or cracked, which can lead to issues. Then give them a squeeze. They should feel firm (not hard and not soft). Finally, take a look at the clamps that connect the hoses to radiator. If the clamps are not on tight enough, you can adjust them with pliers to tighten them up.
Restart the Engine
Once the coolant, hoses and temperatures have been checked, restart the car and closely monitor the temperature gauge. If you see the dial crossing back into the hot zone, pull over to a safe location and turn the engine off.
From there, have a mechanic check out the issue – it’s always best to have an expert opinion.
Your car is working hard in the summer sun. Tame the heat, follow these overheating tips and enjoy the ride.