What’s more exciting than a summer trip with family or friends? But the horror strikes when you see smoke under your car hood. If you aren’t an auto technician, you may not pinpoint the cause of the problem.
An engine may overheat due to various reasons.
The effects can be minor or permanent depending on the precautions and the actions you take.
It would help pull over once you notice smoke coming from your engine. Has your car overheated and died now Won’t Start? Here are some common causes
The common reasons that cause an overheated engine (also read check engine light after changing oil) may include blocked hoses, cooling system leaks, broken water pumps, or radiator breakdown. the heat from escaping the engine compartment.
Car Overheated and Died and Now Won’t Start Causes?
The major causes of engine overheating are low coolant levels, faulty thermostats, faulty cooling fans, broken pressure caps, collapsed hoses, plugged radiators, and faulty water pumps or drive belts. An engine can have other faults that may lead to overheating, such as poor engine conditions and a leaking head gasket.
Blown Head Gasket
Prolonged overheating may lead to a blown head gasket.
Some signs of a blown head gasket are engine misfire, coolant traces in engine oil, or oil leaks.
However, there could be other causes of these symptoms. Also, you can have a blown head gasket without any of the signs above.
The symptoms vary depending on the nature of the gasket failure.
If the head gasket is damaged, it can’t seal the combustion chamber; there’ll be little to no compression.
Besides the engine overheating, the car won’t start. At this point, you’ll need an expert to assess and fix your car.
You can experience a coolant lead due to many reasons. It may be worn hoses, loose hose clamps, or a damaged radiator.
However, you should note that coolant leaks can be a cause or a result of overheating.
Thus, you should test your car for other overheating reasons after repairing the coolant leaks.
Sometimes, you’ll need to replace the cooling thermostat especially when the leaking coolants damage the cooling thermostat.
A broken thermostat may be the cause of future cooling system failure.
A thermostat is vital in controlling the flow of a coolant. When the engine is at rest, the thermostat valves are closed and the coolant still.
You’ll notice a faulty thermostat from the unusual temperature changes as the engine runs.
The thermostat will malfunction, showing false readings. Thus, the false reading will prevent normal control of the engine.
The engine usually functions when the temperatures are within the average operating temperatures.
Also, the valve opens, and the coolant starts flowing. However, if the thermostat remains closed, it can lead to an overheated engine.
Faulty Cooling Fans
A broken wire, blown fuse, and a bad relay are the major causes of broken radiator fans. Other causes include low coolant levels, a broken coolant heat sensor, or a damaged fan.
Modern cars control the fans through the Engine control unit. The unit gets signals from the coolant heat sensor.
If it’s broken down, the unit doesn’t get the signals leading to an overheated engine.
A faulty radiator fan can stop the fan from starting. The motor within the radiator fan system wears out with time.
If you don’t replace it on time, it wears out and malfunctions.
There’s a simple test for radiator fans. You need to locate the cooling fan adjacent to the radiator – You can also use the car manual to locate it.
Then, unplug the connector and connect it directly to the car battery using a connector wire.
A motor in good condition will still spin; hence, you need to examine other possible faults.
A Faulty Water pump or Drive Belt
A water pump helps to circulate the coolant from the pump and radiator to other engine parts. The coolant draws heat from the engine, keeping it at a reasonable temperature.
Once the coolant returns to the radiator, the fans cool down the liquid before it goes on another cycle around the engine.
A broken water pump cannot push the coolant around the engine. Thus, the engine will overheat.
A hot engine can result in a cracked engine block, damaged pistons, head gasket, and cylinders.
Coolant leaks could indicate that you have a faulty water pump. However, the leaks could be external or internal.
External leaks are easy to detect. But if the coolant level drops with no visible coolant puddle on the ground, you should check your oil dipstick.
Internal water pump leaks lead to chocolate or a milkshake-like mixture of oil and coolant.
The serpentine belt, or drive belt, has the role of keeping the cooling system functional. The drive belt system consists of the belt, pulleys, idler, and tensioner.
Together, they help with the proper functions of the air conditioning system, cooling system, power steering, and alternator.
A faulty belt leads to noise as you accelerate the car. The increased noise is due to increased friction when the belt is faulty.
You can correct this by either replacing the belt, tightening it, or replacing the belt tensioner.
Faulty Radiator Cap
It’s easy to overlook the radiator cap when checking the possible causes of car overheating. A loose radiator cap will let air into the cooling system.
It leads to air pockets that infiltrate the radiator hose, heater core, and thermostat.
The air pockets raise the temperatures of the coolant, making it have inconsistent temperatures.
The radiator cap will also lead to coolant leaks, overheated engines, and engine damage.
A tight radiator cap helps to keep the system pressurized, preventing the problems above.
You’ll also enjoy an additional 3℉ every time the atmospheric pressure rises above normal.
Low Engine Oil
Engine oil helps to lubricate different parts of the engine. Thus, there’s no fraction between different parts of the engine.
Insufficient oil leads to friction, which eventually raises the temperatures in the engine. Luckily, you can easily detect low engine oil as the car starts to produce creaking noise.
Use a dipstick to check engine oil levels and refill when necessary.
Note that there are different types of engine oils.
Ensure you use the right oil for your engine. Wrong oils lead to overheating and shutting off of the engine system.
A sensor helps the ECU adjust accordingly. When the sensor sends wrong signals, the engine might overheat, leading to the engine or car damage.
You can check the ECU and fuses to determine the normal functioning of the sensor. Replace the sensor in case it’s faulty.
What to do When Your Car Overheats
Car heating can lead to serious damage to the engine. Thus, you need quick action to save the situation.
Minimize stress on our engine and turn off the air conditioning. Also, slow down your car as you search for a safe place to pull over.
Shut off the Car
Once you pull over, shut off the car and let the engine cool down. Check the temperature gauge until the indicator is back to normal.
Check the Coolant
Low coolant levels could be the reason your car is overheating. Thus, you should add some coolant right away before fixing other problems. If the action doesn’t fix the issue, you should check for other possible causes of the problem.
Restart the Car
It’s wise to tow the car at this point. However, if you don’t have the means, you should carefully restart the car and drive to the nearest repair shop. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge. If it shoots above-average driving temperature, stop the car and allow the engine to cool.
Keep the Windows Open
You can ease pressure on the motor by switching off the AC. Thus, you should use fresh air as an alternative to keep your car interior as you drive.
What to Avoid When Your Car Overheats
An overheating car can send you into panic mode. However, you need to remain calm to keep everything under control. Avoid the following when your car overheats.
You may be a few meters away from the nearest auto garage.
However, driving to the garage with an overheated car can cause irreparable damage to the car.
Popping the Hood Too Soon
Your adrenaline can push you to open the hood to release the heat quickly. However, the action can lead to serious burns and injuries. Always let the engine cool down before you open the hood.
Failing to Check the Engine Thoroughly
Refilling the coolant will not fix the car overheating problem entirely. Thus, you should thoroughly check the engine for other possible causes of overheating.
If you lack hands-on skills to check the engine, you can involve a mechanic in the diagnosis.
Car Overheated and Died Now Won’t Start- Final Thoughts?
If your car overheated and died now won’t start, you can try troubleshooting the above mentioned possible causes. Remember that it’s always advisable that you don’t drive as it can result to extensive engine problems which can call for massive engine repairs.
Hi I’m Marshall based in 1478 Doctors Drive Santa Monica, CA. I’m your DIY Car Repairman with more than 5 years experience in automobile repair, a skill I learned from my old man.
I started this blog to share my experience on both simple and technical aspects of your car.