Once was the day that adding water to a car’s radiator was as typical a task as putting fuel in the gas tank. Overheating engines were not uncommon during the early years of motoring, and there were plenty of roadside resources to fill the need for cool water to replace the steam and vapor produced by internal combustion engines. Service stations were plentiful on America’s open roads back then, and they stood as little oases for cars and drivers who were feeling the heat.
Twenty-first century cars are now equipped with sealed and pressurized cooling systems that circulate a liquid mixture of water and polyethylene glycol (anti-freeze) throughout the engine to exchange the heat with the atmosphere. Modern automobile cooling systems rarely need the kind of attention that the vehicles of yesteryear required, but when a vehicle’s cooling system does fail, the damage done by continuing to run the engine can be catastrophic.
Causes of engine overheating
The cause for our modern sophisticated mechanical machines is often a simple one and may include:
Coolant level and temperature
Engine overheating is most often caused by a loss and lack of the liquid coolant that is used to draw heat away from the engine. This loss of liquid can be caused by a small crack in the engine or a small hole in a hose or the radiator itself. Because these types of leaks are only active under pressure, when coolant vapor may be forced out of the system only if the engine is hot, they can be tricky to spot when the engine is cold or not fully up to running temperature.
The thermostat of your car’s engine cooling system is a temperature control valve that opens and closes and directs the flow of engine coolant to the radiator for heat exchange. In cold weather, the engine thermostat remains shut so that the coolant present within the engine warms quickly to bring the engine up to operating temperature. The thermostat then opens its valve to start the exchange of hot liquid coolant with cooler radiator coolant. When the thermostat gets stuck closed, it will trap already hot water within the engine block and prevent the coolant from getting cooled. Steam and mayhem then ensues. It’s fortunate that most thermostat replacement jobs are quick and easy repairs, most of the time.
Oil level and temperature
The oil in a vehicle’s engine is more than just a source of lubrication for its moving parts. It is also a coolant that helps prevent heat damage to the engine. As a lubricant, engine oil helps reduce the friction that is experienced between moving metal engine parts. One effect of friction is heat; oil helps reduce friction and therefore helps keep the engine cool. An insufficient supply of oil will cause higher rates of friction and more damaging heat to be created.
If your car’s engine is running hot or obviously overheating, operating the engine further may cause permanent and expensive damage that aren’t as easily addressed as an overheating engine. Do not continue to use the vehicle until you have determined and repaired the system. Autobahn Auto Repair Specialists in Yorktown Heights are experts in diagnosing and repairing automobile engine coolant systems and keeping their customers’ cars cool and capable.