Common causes of car overheating & How to fix it


Posted by: Henry Egan

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There are certain steps and some basic actions to take when your car overheats. Read through to learn about its common causes and how to fix it!!!


Try to remain calm when your car overheats. Handle it with things listed down below

You are just trying to take in some fresh air, cruising in your ride and suddenly, the red engine light comes up blinking; your temperature dial indicates your engine temperature is rising. This situation occurs quite often and certainly most car owners will relate to this issue. Overheating remains one of the most common issues car owners face in Nigeria, occurring a lot more often in older cars. In the following section, we will highlight the common causes of car overheating and how to manage these causal effects.

1. General Causes of Car overheating 

Overheating fundamentally results from a faulty cooling system. A car's cooling system consists of five basic components:

  • The radiator
  • The water pump
  • The thermostat
  • The coolant
  • The coolant sensor

These five components are responsible for keeping the car's engine temperature within optimal operating limits. Your car will most likely overheat if at least one of these components is faulty or missing. Generally, if your water pump is bad, your car will definitely overheat, no two ways about that. And if you stubbornly continue to use the car with a faulty water pump, be sure that your engine will also definitely pack-up. The water pump makes sure the coolant flows through the engine along the water jackets to help dissipate heat generated within the engine block. So if your water pump is bad, your engine's temperature will keep rising and your car will surely overheat.


Most likely the car overheating problem lies in some leak that causes a lack in coolant or water pump

Below is a highlight of some of the main causes of overheating in a car;

  • A faulty water pump: We've discussed this earlier; you see that the water pump is integral and one of the most important cooling system components that a car can not do without. It helps in pumping the coolant fluid through the engine to make sure heat generated within the engine is taken out.
  • Leaking or blocked water and coolant hose: Connecting the pump to the engine, the coolant expansion tank, the thermostat and the radiator are hoses which help in carrying the fluids to these major components. A situation where any of these hoses is leaking or blocked results in a major point of failure within the system and will end in a malfunctioning cooling system, and ultimately, overheating.
  • Leaking radiator: A Leaking radiator will surely result in car overheating as the car's coolant will waste away and the engine will be left with little or no fluid required for heat evacuation. Leaking fluids are tricky to diagnose, so make sure it is the radiator.
  • Faulty thermostat: The main function of the thermostat is to indicate when the engine's temperature is above the optimal value. It works by utilizing the principles of temperature, pressure and temperature resistance.

The following video shows how a car's cooling system works:

2. How to know your car is overheating

Before driving out in the morning, it is always advised that you check your water and coolant level. If low, then top up to the recommended level. A constantly reducing coolant level may suggest that your hoses are possibly leaking somewhere and need to be replaced. How then do you know your car is overheating?.

  • One primary means is through the temperature dial on your instrument cluster, as well as the temperature light which blinks Red when your car's temperature is above normal. On the temperature dial, an overheating engine will cross the 190^F mark.
  • When your car is experiencing full-blown overheat, you will likely notice steam issuing from your car bonnet area. This is an indicator that your car has overheated and needs to be checked.

>>> There are dos and don'ts: 

3. What To do When Your Car Overheats

Experiencing an overheating situation can be very unpleasant and even embarrassing. However, you must handle the situation, especially if you are on an isolated highway or you're in an area where auto mechanic shops are not so common. You are expected to behave in a certain way and take some basic actions:

  • Please do not panic. Overheating doesn't necessarily mean that your car is burning especially when you notice the steam coming from your car's bonnet. It may be something as simple as you forget to keep your fluid levels up. Please relax and carefully park your car in a safe spot and turn off the engine.


Unexpected car overheat is always an unpleasant experience

  • Observe if your car's temperature alert light is blinking and also check the temperature dial and read off the current engine temperature. These two will surely inform you that its an overheating situation.
  • Please do not immediately open your car's bonnet to avoid steam burns which can be very severe. Allow the engine to cool off for at least 30 minutes before attempting to open the bonnet.
  • Put on a glove before attempting to open the pressure cap of the radiator or use a piece of cloth.
  • Check for leakage and blockage along the hose lines
  • Allow the engine to cool even further before topping up water and coolant as necessary

>>> Overheating and fires are close cousins. Here's how to keep safe from a fire in your car: How to keep yourself and others safe from car fire

After performing the steps mentioned above, you can then restart the engine and closely monitor the temperature dial and observe for unusual temperature rise. If the car experience overheating again, please look for the nearest auto mechanic shop and check-in your car for repairs, so that major faults may not result from one or many other faulty parts of the car. Also, make sure to always check your coolant and water level daily and if possible check your car in for monthly servicing.


Overlooking all the above causes with no avail, it needs to be inspected by a trusted mechanic

You have just reached the end of our article on the common causes of car overheating. If it is helpful, please hit Like and share on our social media so that this helpful knowledge can be spread to more people!

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Henry Egan
Henry Egan

Henry Egan


Henry Egan a poet, essayist, content writer, blogger and technical writer who is willing to read just that last material to develop the best content possible. Henry feels he is more of a new generation writer with a sassy and swanky style. You can be sure you'll get all the facts in and never get bored with his articles.

He has got a flair for technical reviews on automobile and cars. He studied Mechanical Engineering but his first love remains Literary Art.

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