How to Investigate Potential Causes When Your Car Starts to Overheat

When you consider that your car relies on an explosive mix of petrol and electricity in order to move you from point to point, you begin to understand just how important the cooling system is. Yet that doesn't help you to cool your own internal temperature when you see that your car is overheating. All you're thinking of is the cost ahead, but take a moment to look at some of the potential causes, before you blow your top. Where should you start looking?

Checking the Levels

Many people take the operation of their car for granted and do not check the levels beneath the bonnet on a regular basis. If it's been some time since you looked at the coolant, then this is where you begin. Perhaps the level appears to be okay, but you topped it up with ordinary water the last time, and this could be part of the issue. Remember, manufacturers strongly advise you to put special coolant/antifreeze into the system, as this is engineered to put up with the extraordinarily high temperatures. You might have to flush your whole system out and put the right stuff in there instead.

Fan Issues

Next, have a look to see if the cooling fan is working. Today, these are usually operated by a separate electric motor, rather than being simply attached to the engine by a belt. This is not something that you should check when the engine is cold, but when the car starts to overheat again, pull to the side and have a look to see if the fan is on. If not, it could be one of two problems.

Firstly, the switch may not be activating, and you can check this by bypassing it and connecting the fan to the wiring harness directly. If the fan works, the switch has to be replaced. Alternatively, use an electrical tester to see if any power supply is being delivered to the unit, which would explain why the switch itself would not activate.

Open or Shut

Now, move on to the thermostat. This is a simple device that will open and close to regulate the amount of coolant that flows through the system. Sometimes, it can stick in the on or off position. If it does, it's a fairly inexpensive device to replace.

Looking at the Radiator

Finally, you need to look at your radiator. This is probably the most important part of the entire cooling system, and it is quite a complicated product in and of itself. There is a maze of tiny pipes inside the radiator forming a matrix through which the coolant mixture flows on a constant basis. The surface of the matrix is presented to the cooling air that flows through it when you are driving down the road.

Flush or Replace

The radiator is usually very efficient, but over time it will become clogged with residue that sticks to the side of the miniature pipes. Sometimes, you will be able to get this flushed out by a qualified car radiator repair service, or in the worst cases it may need to be replaced. Have a word with your mechanic for their advice.