There are many things that can go wrong when driving; overheating is a big one. Many factors can cause a car to overheat, typically low coolant during warm temperatures, long drives and congested traffic are to blame.
If your car overheats, do not drive more than a quarter mile. Have it towed to avoid further damage to the engine. However, if there is no experienced mechanic or tow truck nearby, follow these simple steps:
- Pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine.
- Do not open the hood until the car has completely cooled or the temperature gauge has moved from hot to cool.
- Check the coolant (also called antifreeze) level in the radiator. Look in the owner’s manual if you are unsure where the coolant reservoir tank is.
- Make sure the radiator cap is cool before opening it. Slowly twist it off with a towel and beware of any hot steam. If needed, fill coolant to the top of the radiator. Put the radiator cap back on.
- Be sure the upper or lower radiator hose and any of the heater hoses have not been blocked, disconnected or burst.
- Restart the engine.
- Carefully monitor the temperature gauge. If you see it crossing the optimal mark, pull over to a safe location and turn the engine off.
While your best bet is to get help from a mechanic, your safest bet is to be prepared. Store these essential items in your car: Coolant, tool kit, working flashlight, non-perishable foods and water.