Each car always has an engine cooling system, whose role is to maintain the engine’s standard operating temperature. The engine will achieve the optimal temperature by circulating a coolant past the engine into the car’s radiator, removing the heat around the engine area.
The common potential reasons that can cause your car to overheat and then go back to normal is a failed thermostat and leaks in the cooling system that affect the flow of hot water through the radiator.
Sometimes, the motor’s heat may be too high, causing the engine cooling system to fail. When this happens, the temperature gauge on your dashboard rises and then goes back, indicating an increase in temperature.
You are probably wondering if such an incidence can cause damage to your car. A temperature rise may cause damage to the engine as well as its internal parts, such as the gaskets, seals, and hoses.
I have explained these in detail below, plus possible remedies that you can rely on to fix the overheating problem. Read on to find out more.
Car Overheating Then going Back to Normal Causes
The most common causes of an overheating engine include a failed thermostat, a low level of coolant or anti-freezing agent, a failed water pump, a faulty radiator, low levels of engine oil, bad sensors, plugging of the heater core, leaks in the cooling system, issues with belts and hoses, and a failed coolant switch.
1. A failed thermostat
It is the most prevalent cause of overheating in a car or vehicle. Why is this? A thermostat is a device responsible for controlling or regulating the general car temperature. It regulates how hot water flows from and into the engine.
When there is more hot water at the point near the engine, it leads to a rise in the car’s overall temperature. As the water becomes less at that point, the temperature goes down.
Thermostat failure hampers hot water regulation, and the result is high temperatures that cause your car to overheat.
2. Low amounts of coolant levels
Is your car’s coolant or anti-freeze running low? If it is, you do not have to look far trying to find why your vehicle might be overheating. You might have your answer right there with you!
A coolant or anti-freeze is a fluid that runs through the car’s engine to ensure that it operates at an optimal temperature. In other words, it makes sure that the temperatures are neither too high nor too low.
The levels reduce when the fluid is not refilled at the correct intervals. Likewise, if there I a leakage somewhere, the levels will go down. When this happens, it results in very high engine temperatures, resulting in your car overheating and then going back to normal.
3. A faulty Radiator
Like the thermostat and coolant, a radiator plays a vital role in regulating the engine’s temperatures. A radiator is a heat exchanger that is used to transfer heat from one medium to another to facilitate either cooling or heating. While they are primarily used in cars, they are also meant to function in buildings and electronics.
In our case, the role of your car’s radiator is to radiate heat away from your engine to prevent a temperature build-up. When it becomes faulty, the reverse is true. Heat will accumulate in the engine, and this will cause your car to overheat after a while.
If you are uncomfortable with the heat levels in your car, this is something you might want to check out.
4. Failed Water Pump
I have already talked about the role of an engine coolant system, and I have pointed out that it relies on a fluid or anti-freeze to drive temperature away from the engine. What I haven’t talked about, however, is how this is possible.
How does the fluid move around? Is there any assisting mechanism? The answer is yes. The coolant relies on a water pump to move from in o around the engine to cool it off. Therefore, it is natural that whenever the water pump fails, the coolant will not be able to move.
The temperature around the engine will rise uncontrollably, causing your car to overheat.
5.Low amounts of engine oil levels
The mere operations of the car engine are enough to give rise to an extremely high amount of heat. That is why several mechanisms, as we have explored, aim to reduce these heat levels.
However, friction resulting from the engine operations is likely to raise the temperatures even further. That is why the oil lubricant comes in handy. Engine oil lubricates the engine’s moving parts to reduce the amount of friction and, consequently, reduces the heat generated in the process.
When the engine oil levels fall too low, this can increase friction and, as a result, cause an increase in temperature, which causes your car to overheat.
6.Leaks in the cooling system
It is somehow related to low coolant levels as a cause for overheating your car since one leads to the other. When there are leaks in the cooling system, the fluid level in the coolant reservoir tank drops, and the tank might remain empty.
The result is poor regulation of heat around the engine area leading to a rise in temperatures. But how do you know whether there are leaks in the cooling system? If the system is leaking, you will probably see some spots or puddles on the ground. Depending on the type of coolant you are using, its color will be either green, blue, or orange. It will also have a sweet smell.
7.Problems with the belts and hoses
If your car has a belt bummer, it can lead to overheating the engine. The belt is responsible for rotating the water pump, which pushes the coolant through the cooling system. Once the engine belt is out of alignment, it affects the rotation of the pump, and thus the coolant cannot be dispensed. While you should always keep the belts lubricated, you should cross-check to ensure that none is loose. You should also ensure that the belts are not worn out or frayed.
Likewise, faulty hoses that are either ruptured, blocked, or leaking can cause the temperature to rise.
8.Failed Coolant switch
A failed coolant switch can also be a potential factor causing your car’s temperature to rise and then fall. If it is weak or has completely failed, the temperature gauge will rise uncontrollably, which will be out of your control.
Up to this point, most of the causes that we have seen have something to do with the car’s engine overheating. But did you know that the overheating problem can result from something unrelated to the engine?
Bad sensors, for instance, are not related to an overheating engine. In this case, the sensors take up incorrect readings whenever they are faulty. They then make it look like your engine is overheating when it is not.
Such faulty readings cause your car’s temperature gauge to rise and fall. It will thus be advisable to do a full scan whenever you see this since the problem might not be obvious.
10.Plugging of the heater core
Another non-engine-related cause of car overheating is the plugging of the heater core. A heater core is a form of heat exchanger that controls the flow of the engine coolant fluid.
This device is responsible for keeping you warm whenever you are diving on cold days.
While its task is to keep you warm, it can also result in an uncontrollable rise in your car’s temperature. That will be reflected through your car overheating and then going back to normal.
Car Overheating Then Going Back to Normal Fixes
Run a full diagnostic
The first logical step whenever your car is overheating and you can’t figure out what is wrong will be to run a full diagnostic to identify the issues. To effectively run a diagnostic, it will be essential to seek the help of a mechanic or a technician who is in a position to test your car for a problem.
Fix or replace the faulty thermostat
What better way to keep your other fruits fresh than removing the rotten ones? If you find out that a failed thermostat is causing your car to overheat, then go back to normal, you will have to either replace it or fix it.
Again, you might need the help of a mechanic to do this. You don’t have to worry yourself as failing thermostats are common occurrences, and they are pretty easy to fix!
Check for leaking coolant
If your car is overheating, you should also consider checking it for leaking coolant. You have to check the coolant reservoir tank. As stated, you will notice some spots or puddles on the ground. Depending on the type of coolant you are using, its color will be either green, blue, or orange. It will also have a sweet smell.
If you see this, visit a mechanic and have the problem fixed.
Replace the Radiator
A radiator plays a crucial role in regulating the engine’s temperature. If it is faulty, it is probably why your car is overheating. It would be best to replace it with a new one, and you will have solved your problems so quickly.
Turn on the heater
While you are driving, you should consider turning off the air conditioning and then turning on the heater. That will help pull away heat from the engine. However, this is just a temporary fix, and you will still have to go to a mechanic to fix the problem.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
Why Does My Car Overheat and Then Go Back To Normal?
The most probable reason your car is overheating and then going back to normal is a faulty thermostat that does not optimally regulate heat within the engine. Getting a new thermostat should solve the issue.
What Can A Bad thermostat Cause?
Overheating. The thermostat device is responsible for controlling the temperature level of fluids from the hose. When the thermostat is faulty, this heat regulation will not be possible, so the engine temperatures will increase, leading to overheating of the car.
On Car Overheating Then Going Back to Normal
In this article, I sought to bring to your attention some of the main culprits that might be responsible for the irritation you get because your car keeps on overheating and then going back to normal.
While this is common, it is mainly attributed to a failed thermostat. Performing the simple fixes detailed above should solve the problem.
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.