Why does a car engine overheat: the most common reasons
If the dashboard indicates a high temperature in the car or you notice smoke coming from the engine, you should pay close attention and brake immediately. Here are some of the causes of engine overheating and what to do.
Overheating can damage the head gasket, which is very expensive to repair. Another problem could be the radiator itself. If it continues to overheat, it could damage the motor and require repair or even a new motor, depending on the extent of the damage.
On the dashboard we find a stele indicating the temperature of the coolant, we must be very attentive to its position, and we must also be attentive to the level of coolant in the expansion tank of the system.
If the engine is running above its optimum temperature, damage can occur to the engine’s moving parts, because viscosity decreases when the temperature rises. As the temperature rises, the metal parts harden or melt together.
Why does your car’s engine overheat: possible causes
Engine overheating is caused by a malfunction of the cooling system or lack of lubrication. The cooling system is responsible for maintaining the proper operating temperature of the engine.
Internal combustion engines produce energy, but only a small amount is converted into useful energy, and the rest is lost through heat. The temperatures of the engine walls can reach over 700°C, which is why a mechanism is needed to dissipate this temperature and therefore a cooling system.
There are systems that are cooled by air and others by radiator, those that are air-cooled such as those for motorcycles have fins that dissipate heat via the contact area, and those that are cooled by water or refrigerant have liquid circulating through the system.
Which components of the cooling system you should check if the engine is overheating
The various elements or pieces that make up the cooling system are usually involved when a vehicle overheats. The ingredients you should know and prepare are:
- radiator: It is a tube in the form of a serpentine that dissipates heat along its path; To increase the heat transfer area, some fins are incorporated. One of the most common causes of cooling system damage is in the radiator, where holes and compression failures occur in the cap.
- hosesThey are responsible for moving the coolant that goes in and out of the engine until it is cooled. Damage to the hose is caused by crystallization due to temperature changes and breaks in the joints or clamps.
- water pump: The pump is responsible for maintaining the fluid pressure in the cooling system, the useful life of these elements is high and only failures appear due to operation without liquid or due to blockage caused by scale.
- expansion tank: Expansion tank is the one that takes fluids that condense to evaporate in the cooling system. The most common failure of this element is the loss of the sealing capacity of the cap allowing loss of refrigerant.
- The thermostat: It acts as a valve that allows coolant to pass between the engine and the radiator while keeping the temperature in check.
- fan motor: It is responsible for ventilating the cooling system when the vehicle is stopped and there is not enough ventilation being applied while the vehicle is in motion.
- Malfunctions of the fan or coolant temperature sensor: The fan should replace the radiator when the car is parked. If it does not start and the engine is warmer than normal, check that it is not tripping and that the temperature sensor is working.
- clogged radiator: Coolant is another component responsible for maintaining engine temperature. The function of the cooler is to absorb the heat from the coolant that circulates through it and return it to the environment. If the radiator is clogged, the coolant cannot circulate properly and the engine can overheat. It can also be blocked out, obstructing the flow of air used to dissipate heat.
- oil level: Oil reduces friction in all moving engine parts. Low oil level causes more friction and thus generates more heat.
Any damage to the components of the cooling system can cause the vehicle to overheat, lead to engine failure and damage to the cylinder head.
How to check that the cooling system is working properly
For proper control of the cooling system, remember the following:
- Check the condition of the belts, coolant, leaks and connection points.
- Make sure the fan motor is running when it stops after a long drive
- Do not use water or coolant when the vehicle is overheating.
- Do not move the vehicle when the vehicle temperature is overheated or its temperature is more than half of its indicator. Assistance or a tow truck must be called to avoid further damage.
Why does the car heat up if it has water in it?
The causes can be as simple as a faulty water pump impeller causing reduced water or coolant flow, causing overheating. In other cases, the coolant or water may become contaminated with dirt, which will reduce its quality and clog the cooling system.
Another reason may be that the oil works to reduce the friction of all the moving parts of the engine. Low oil level increases friction and thus heat generation.
What happens when the engine overheats?
When overheating is dangerous, the cylinders and rings end up losing their tightness. On some engines, severe overheating can cause cracks in the valve seat, resulting in major or even complete engine damage.
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