Don't steam up about an overheating car

Running an overheating car for an extended period can ruin your engine. It's a good idea...

Running an overheating car for an extended period can ruin your engine. It's a good idea to find out why your car is running hot and have your Atlanta mechanic fix the problem as quickly as possible. Here are five possible causes.

  1. Low coolant. Important: To avoid serious injury such as burns, always check coolant levels after the engine compartment cools. On a late-model car, check the cooling system's overflow to see if the coolant is in the full range. The overflow is a partially transparent, jug-like container that is usually located on the engine compartment sidewalls. If you have an older car with no overflow, you will need to remove the radiator cap and look into the radiator to see if more coolant is needed. Add more coolant if the level is low.
  2. Leaky radiator. If you find that you frequently need to refill your coolant, the problem could be a leaky radiator. If you don't see any coolant running down the side of the radiator, you can slide a large piece of clean cardboard under the front of your parked car, directly below the radiator. Let your car sit for a few hours, then check the cardboard. If there is coolant on it, then you know you have a radiator leak.
  3. Plugged hoses and connectors. This is harder to check because there are so many places where blockages can form in a car's engine. Wait until the engine is lukewarm, so you don't get burned. Feel the hoses to discover whether one of them is cold. A cold hose indicates that the coolant is not flowing properly. This should be discussed with your mechanic.
  4. Thermostat malfunction. Your car's thermostat is a valve that is designed to block the flow of coolant when your car is cold, which allows the engine to warm up more quickly. When the coolant gets hot, the valve should open. The coolant will cycle through the radiator and cool off, and this prevents your engine from overheating. When the thermostat malfunctions, or gets stuck, your engine will overheat. You can sometimes find this problem by using the same hose test described above. If one hose is hot and the other is cold, it might be the thermostat that is causing the trouble.
  5. Fan not spinning. The fan in your car's engine compartment is designed to spin and cool the radiator when engine fluids reach a certain temperature. This helps keep your engine from overheating when it is working correctly. If the engine is at running temperature, watch or listen to determine if the fan kicks on. If it doesn't, discuss the problem with your mechanic.

Running an overheating car can leave you with no car to drive, so contact your local Atlanta mechanic at the first sign of trouble.

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