Why Is My Car Engine Overheating : Causes, Symptoms & What To Do?

engine overheating

Engine overheating is a common problem in vehicles, which can sometimes be common. But sometimes it can seriously damage the engine. Engine overheating is a serious problem. This can sometimes cause the entire engine of the vehicle to break down, and repairing an overheated engine is a time-consuming and expensive process.

Through this article, we will learn in detail about the causes, symptoms, and repair costs of overheating engines.

What is Engine Overheating?

Any internal combustion engine becoming hotter than normal temperature is called engine overheating. Engine overheating can cause serious damage to internal engine parts, causing the engine to suddenly stop running, become difficult to restart, or not start at all. Overheating can cause serious damage to the engine’s pistons, rings, sleeves, crank, head gasket, engine head, and other engine parts.

Internal combustion engines generate heat when they start, and the coolant system plays an important role in maintaining a normal engine temperature. Through which the coolant is repeatedly cooled and supplied to the engine block through the cooling process so that the temperature of the engine becomes normal and the engine runs smoothly. But failure of any component of the coolant system can cause the engine to overheat while running and, if not taken care of in time, can even cause the engine to seize.

Why Is My Car Engine Overheating?

The most common causes of engine overheating can include a leak in the cooling system, a bad radiator fan, a bad water pump, a low engine oil level, or thermostat failure. Additionally, low or no engine oil levels can also cause the engine to overheat.

Engine Overheating Causes

Let us know in detail all the reasons for engine overheating, one by one, so that you can investigate these reasons yourself and fix them to some extent.

1. Coolant Leakage


To keep any internal combustion engine at normal temperature, coolant circulates through the engine block and engine head gallery when the engine is running. When the engine is running, this coolant continuously flows into the engine gallery through the radiator cooling process.

But sometimes failure of any part of the coolant assembly may result in coolant leaking while the engine is running, and after some time the entire coolant gets emptied from the engine, due to which the temperature of the running engine starts becoming higher than normal and the engine overheats.

If the engine temperature gauge is not taken care of in time, the internal parts of the engine get damaged, and the engine stops suddenly. After this, the engine needs to be overhauled, and overhauling the engine becomes a costly affair.

2. Coolant Hose Pipes Burst

coolant hose pipe

The engine coolant assembly is connected to it by a rubber hose pipe. through which the coolant from the radiator passes through the engine gallery and returns to the radiator.

But sometimes these coolant hose pipes burst when the engine is running due to old or high pressure of super hot gas in the engine gallery. Due to which the entire engine coolant leaks out. Due to this, the engine temperature starts higher than normal. This can also be a reason for engine overheating.

3. Clogged or Leaking Radiator

leaking radiator

The radiator is an important part of the engine’s coolant system, in which hot coolant from the engine flows through the radiator’s fine tubes and lowers the temperature of the coolant in the radiator.

Then this normal temperature coolant goes into the engine coolant gallery by water pump and brings the engine temperature back to normal. This process is continuously active when the engine is running.

But due to rust inside the radiator or bad coolant liquid, the radiator gets clogged, and due to this, the flow of coolant in the radiator stops, or, for some reason, the coolant starts leaking due to the radiator leaking. Due to either of these two reasons, the temperature of the engine starts becoming higher than normal, and due to this, the engine also becomes hot.

4. Faulty Radiator Fan & Temperature Switch

coolant temperature sensor

A mechanical or electronic fan is installed behind the engine’s coolant radiator, which cools the hot fluid flowing in the radiator through air. But sometimes the radiator fan gets damaged or breaks due to some reason, due to which the radiator fan is not able to blow air over the radiator and cool the hot coolant, due to which the engine starts overheating.

Some modern vehicles have an electronic radiator fan, which starts once the engine reaches normal temperature levels. Because it has a temperature switch. When the pressure of the hot gases opens the thermostat valve, it turns on the power supply to the temperature switch, which runs the radiator fan.

But sometimes the radiator fan won’t start due to a bad temperature switch, broken temperature sensor or radiator fan wire, bad radiator fan relay or fan motor, or faulty thermostat valve, causing the engine to overheat.

5. Faulty Thermostat Valve

thermostat valve

The thermostat valve in the engine’s coolant assembly plays an important role in maintaining a stable engine temperature. When the engine is initially started in cold conditions, At that time, the thermostat valve closes so as to stop the flow of engine coolant, and the engine temperature can quickly return to normal.

But when the temperature of the engine starts to become normal, at that time the thermostat valve opens, due to which the flow of coolant in the engine gets activated and the temperature switch gets activated when the thermostat valve opens. Due to this, the radiator fan starts, and the radiator fan brings the temperature of the hot coolant back to normal. Due to this, the temperature of the running engine remains stable under normal conditions.

But sometimes, due to some reason, the thermostat valve gets damaged or stuck and does not open even when the engine coolant overheats and the coolant flow stops, due to which the electronic radiator fan does not turn on. Therefore, a faulty thermostat valve causes the engine to overheat.

6. Faulty Water Pump

bad water pump symptoms

The water pump also plays an important role in the coolant assembly of the engine, which starts rotating as soon as the engine is started. The water pump is rotated through the serpentine belt of the engine. This causes coolant to circulate rapidly throughout the engine under pressure in the coolant gallery and radiator, so the coolant system can keep the engine temperature normal.

But sometimes, due to wear and tear of the serpentine belt or water pump failure, the engine is unable to circulate coolant through the gallery. Due to this, the temperature of the engine starts becoming higher than normal, and if care is not taken in time, then after some time the engine starts overheating. This can also be a reason for engine overheating.

7. Low Engine Oil Level or Finish

Oil is essential for every engine. Starting the engine without engine oil can cause the internal parts of the engine to get badly damaged and seize up within a few seconds or minutes. Because engine oil lubricates the internal metal parts of the engine and protects them from friction,

If there is no or very little engine oil in a running engine, the engine temperature will increase due to friction on the internal parts of the engine, and excessive friction without lubrication will cause the engine to seize.

8. Hand Brake Engaged

Many times, we park our cars by applying the hand brake. But sometimes we drive. So you forget to remove the hand brake, or for some reason the hand brake is not able to be released.

In such a situation, the power and performance of the engine start decreasing, the engine does not run smoothly, and every part of the engine starts getting overloaded, due to which the temperature of the engine starts increasing. In such a situation, running the engine for a long time without paying attention can cause the problem of engine overheating.

Signs Of Engine Overheating

Common symptoms of an engine overheating include rising temperatures on the dashboard, steam or smoke coming from the engine bay, a pungent smell of burning coolant, the AC shutting down while driving, and reduced engine power. Additionally, unusual engine noises, such as knocking or pinging, may indicate overheating.

1. Rising Temperature Gauge

Whenever the engine of your vehicle overheats. Then the temperature gauge of your vehicle starts reaching the red temperature signal and reaching the red temperature mark indicates that your engine is overheating.

2. Overheating Engine Light

Some modern vehicles have a digital meter. In which the overheat sign light of lag color starts displaying continuously when the engine is overheated or the overhead sign light starts bling.

3. Burning Coolant Smell

Some unusual smells can be felt when the engine is overheated, which indicates that the engine is overheated. You can smell the burning plastic when the engine is overheated. because the plastic valves and seals in the engine start melting due to the overheating of the engine. Due to which the smell starts coming. Along with this, the smell of burning ethylene glycol can also be felt in the coolant of the radiator and the smell of burning engine oil can also be felt.

4. AC Cooling Stop While Running Vehicle

Often, you travel in an air-conditioned car and whenever you feel the heat, according to the weather, you turn on the AC in the car. Thereby, you optimize the environment inside the vehicle. But the AC system fails when the engine of your vehicle overheats.

Then your vehicle’s AC may stop cooling. Due to this, the cooling of the AC in the vehicle suddenly stops permanently. Or the cooling from the AC comes intermittently. These symptoms could also be caused by a bad or failing water pump in the vehicle.

5. Leaking Coolant

When the engine is overheated, steam gas begins to form due to the overheating of the coolant. Due to this, the gas starts to drain the coolant or water from the engine block through the coolant overflow pipe and due to overheating in the engine coolant, it starts boiling. Due to which the coolant of the engine starts leaking

What To Do if The Engine Overheats?

  • Pull the vehicle to the safe side of the road: As soon as you see the temperature gauge rising or signs of engine overheating, pull over safely to the side of the road or into a parking spot to avoid causing problems for other drivers.
  • Open the hood of the vehicle: First, open the hood and allow the engine to cool. Opening the hood will help dissipate heat faster. Keep in mind that sudden shutdowns of an extremely hot engine should be avoided. Since this can cause the engine to seize, try to bring the temperature to normal while the engine is running.
  • Do not open the radiator cap: Never attempt to open the radiator cap while the engine is hot, as this could cause hot steam and coolant to escape, which could harm you. So wait until the engine cools down.
  • Check Coolant Level: Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant level in the radiator or reservoir. If it is low, add coolant as needed. Be sure to use the correct type of coolant for your vehicle.
  • Inspect for coolant leaks: Look for any signs of a coolant leak, such as pitting under the car or visible cracks in the hoses or radiator. Because coolant leakage often causes engine overheating,
  • Check the radiator fan: Make sure the radiator fan is working properly. If it doesn’t run, it could be a fuse, relay, or sensor problem. Check these out too.
  • Call for assistance: If you are unable to identify or fix the problem yourself, call a tow truck or roadside assistance for professional assistance. Continuing to drive with an overheated engine may result in serious damage and an engine seizure.

What Not To Do if The Engine Overheats?

If your engine is overheating, first of all, to prevent further damage, do not continue driving, as this may worsen the problem and lead to engine or component failure. Never attempt to open the radiator cap while the engine is hot, as this may cause harsh steam and coolant to escape, which could harm you. Additionally, avoid pouring cold water or coolant into a hot radiator, as sudden temperature changes can cause the engine block to crack.


Q. Can I drive my car after it has overheated?

The car should never be driven after the engine is overheated. Overheating of the engine can cause the head gasket to blow and the pistons, rings, and sleeves of the engine can be badly damaged. Because, after engine damage, you only have the option of overhauling the engine, engine overhauling is a high-cost and time-consuming affair.

Q. Will the car overheat when the AC is on?

Yes, in the case of some cars, the a/c in the car may get hot when it is on.
There are some reasons for this. such as an AC compressor overload, a faulty coolant system, a clogged radiator or radiator fan failure, etc.

Q. Why is my car overheating but it has coolant?

It directly means this. that your vehicle’s coolant system has some sort of problem, and due to this, the coolant is not circulating properly or the thermostat is stuck in the off state. Or radiator clogged or radiator fan not turning on.

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