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Why There's More to an Overheating Car Than You Might Think

Many people think that an overheating car is just a nuisance. They may think that it is "par for the course" in sweltering South Australia, for example. Yet did you know that this problem can cause potentially serious damage to the engine itself? What should you bear in mind and how can you alleviate the problem if you suddenly encounter it on a busy motorway?

Why It's a Serious Problem

Firstly, you have to understand what's at stake. The vehicle's cooling system is not just there for show. A typical engine builds up so much heat that if it was not cooled very efficiently, it would quite literally melt to the ground. It doesn't take very long, therefore, for an engine that is being starved of the necessary coolant to create big problems.

For example, the head gasket could be one of the first things to fail. This is a special sealing device that is supposed to keep your coolant from leaking but can allow it to escape and mix in the combustion chamber. This can be an expensive issue to fix. When antifreeze comes into contact with the core part of the engine, including the cylinders, then a catastrophic failure can happen. If the cylinder is compromised, you might have to replace the entire engine.

Getting to the Cause

When it comes to the cause of overheating there can be several. Some are obvious, others are not. It goes without saying that you have to maintain the proper amount of coolant. You should put coolant/antifreeze into your system as well as water and don't be fooled into thinking that they do the same job. The coolant is specifically engineered to perform in this harsh environment.

Is it the Thermostat?

It's also possible that the thermostat is on its way out. The job of this small part is to balance the temperature. If it's not working, then it can restrict coolant when it should be adding more. You may have to replace this part.

Oil Is Important too

Most people do not realise that the engine oil itself is a critical part of a cooling system. If you don't have enough oil in your engine, then this lubricant will not be able to carry as much excess heat away from the engine as it could. It's important to check this level as well as the coolant level.

What to Do in an Emergency

If you do find yourself with a car that is suddenly overheating when you're in the middle of rush hour traffic, here is one insider tip. Even though the temperature may be sweltering outside on a summer's day, turn on the heating inside the car and put it on full blast. By doing this, you will help to circulate more of the coolant around the system and it should help to bring the overall temperature down. Of course, make a beeline for your mechanic for a car servicing at the same time!