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How Long Can A Car Run Hot Before Damage?

How Long Can A Car Run Hot Before Damage?

If you're wondering, “how long can a car run hot before damage?” It typically doesn't take more than 30 to 60 seconds for your vehicle's engine to get damaged when overheating problems are very severe.

Your vehicle's engine operates within a certain temperature range, and when it exceeds this range, a very high chance that your engine will overheat. As your engine overheats, it gets completely damaged and might require installing a new engine.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Some drivers still underestimate the severe impact of engine overheating and think they can still drive the vehicle for extended times. However, this article will walk you through how long a car can run hot before the damage. Here you'll see the severe outcomes of engine overheating and how quickly they happen, which should be a warning sign to you about never underestimating engine overheating issues.

Why do cars get hot?

Before we dive into the details about “how long can a car run hot before damage?” We must understand the main reasons for increased temperature in your vehicle.

In any combustion system, a lot of heat increases the engine temperature to very high ranges. Luckily, your vehicle relies on several components and systems to bring the engine temperature to the right range and prevent overheating problems.

For example, your cooling system sends a coolant to run around the engine continuously when the temperature exceeds the maximum threshold. The coolant then takes the temperature and releases it at the radiator to repeat the process and continuously protect the engine from overheating.

Similarly, the engine oil is responsible for lubricating the engine's internal components and preventing friction that could cause additional excess heat that might damage the engine.

As you might notice, many interacting systems and components work together to help the engine temperature stay within the optimum range. However, this does not necessarily mean that your engine will never overheat because any of the mentioned components can get damaged, impacting the overall process and damaging the engine.

How long can a car run hot before damage?

Surprisingly, engine overheating is one of those problems that can immediately damage the engine in no time. In fact, automotive experts discovered that you could not run your engine for more than 30 to 60 seconds before you see significant consequences of engine overheating.

Therefore, when your vehicle's engine overheats, you must pull over and turn off the engine as soon as possible to prevent catastrophic results that could cost you thousands of dollars down the road.

What happens if you keep driving an overheated car?

Driving an overheated car is never a good idea. This is because it leads to significant consequences that cost a lot of money. In general, if you consider driving a car that is overheated, you risk damaging the cylinder head and move over the following:

  • Significant reduction in power
  • Excessive oil burning
  • Significant reduction in fuel economy
  • Engine misfiring
  • Engine installing
  • Difficulty cranking in getting your vehicle going
  • And in some scenarios, complete engine failure

At what temperature does engine damage occur?

Your engine's operating temperature should not exceed 230 degrees. However, experts indicated that you might still not reach the significant engine damages up to 245 degrees Fahrenheit.

How much does it cost to fix overheating car?

Determining how much it will cost you to fix your car overheating differs significantly depending on the root of the problem. In general, fixing engine overheating costs you somewhere between $500 and $1500. Obviously, some problems might even cost you more depending on your vehicles type.

1-    Coolant

The coolant is the primary fluid responsible for bringing the engine temperature when it exceeds a certain threshold. Therefore, your vehicle needs a certain amount of coolant to help drop the engine temperature, and when your car does not have it, the remaining amount of coolant will not be enough to cool down the engine.

Unfortunately, coolant leaks are tricky to fix and require slightly higher repair costs than other problems causing engine overheating. Typically, coolant leaks repairs might cost you about $786, depending on your vehicle type and the location where you get the job done.

2-    Water pump

The water pump is a critical component in the cooling system and when it goes bad, the coolant will not be able to run around the engine; therefore, overheating happens.

If your vehicle's overheating issue is related to a bad water pump, expect to pay between $460 and 638 dollars. If you want to break this price range down by labor costs and parts, expect to pay about 250 to $320 for labor and 200 to $300 for parts only.

3-    Radiator

A bad radiator might also result in engine overheating. This is a fascinating exercise before bringing the coolant temperature down to help it repeat the cycle and ground the engine to job its temperature. When the radiator is not in good condition, the coolant temperature will increase, failing to help the engine cool down.

If the overheating problem involves a bad radiator, expect to pay somewhere between $290 and $1100. But, again, the price range differs significantly depending on your vehicle's brand and the location where you get the job done. On average, radiator repair costs should cost you about $670.

4-    Thermostat

The thermostat is responsible for monitoring the coolant's behavior and allowing it to run around the engine when it overheats. When the engine temperature is at the optimum level, the thermostat keeps closed. It prevents the coolant from running around the engine until it reaches a temperature beyond the typical optimum range.

A bad thermostat might also cause your vehicle to overheat, especially if the thermostat gets stuck closed. In that scenario, you need to replace the thermostat, and it should cost somewhere between $200 and $300 on average.

5-    Motor oil

Since your motor oil is responsible for replicating the engine and preventing friction that could cause overheating, engine oil can be another component that might result in overheating. Oil problems can start as simple as needing to top off the engine oil or reach significant oil leaks internally and externally.

Topping the engine oil depends on what type of oil you are looking for and your vehicle's capacity depending on what's indicated in your vehicle owner’s manual. However, dealing with an oil leak is a little more complicated and will cost much more money requiring intensive labor tasks. Expect to pay between $85 and $155 to fix oil leaks, but keep in mind that oil leaks repairs are not something you can do by yourself at home to save on labor because mechanics typically rely on certain toolsets to help them determine the location of oil leaks.

What to do when your car runs hot?

Since it's critical never to allow your vehicle to run hot for more than 60 seconds, it is important to me as yourself with some tips and recommendations from automotive experts about what to do when your car gets hot.

In general, when your vehicle gets hot, here's all you need to do:

1-    Turn on the heating system

Surprisingly, one of the first tricks you can implement to drop the engine temperature is turning on the heating system. As you turn on the heating, the vehicle's internal components suck up any excess temperature from the engine and use this temperature to heat the inside of the vehicle.

Obviously, this trick might work for some scenarios but might not be very effective, especially if you're dealing with severe engine overheating. Therefore, if you don't immediately notice a reduction in engine temperature after implementing this trick, you must proceed with the other recommendations.

2-    Pullover in a safe place and turn off the engine

If turning on the heating system did not work, try to find a safe location and pull over to start the engine. Obviously, if you're driving on the highways, you need to locate a safe exit to leave the highways and find a safe area on city roads that does not have a lot of traffic. Keep in mind that some engine overheating scenarios might force you to stop your vehicle on the shoulder of the highway.

Once you find a safe spot, turned off the engine and allow your vehicle to cool down for at least 15 to 30 minutes. As you're waiting on the vehicle to cool down, do not attempt to open the hood or look at any of the hot components. Typically, the engine compartment will be extremely hot, and the coolant can be very dangerous, and there is a very high risk of burn.

3-    Stay calm

By now, you can imagine how severe it is to deal with engine overheating problems. However, when you were in this situation, there's no reason for panicking because as you're trying to implement dimension recommendations, that's all you have in hand.

Therefore, the most important advice you must consider when dealing with engine overheating is to stick home until you get help. Then, reach out to your mechanic or roadside assistance for help by describing the situation and asking for recommendations.

Typically, mechanics understand these situations and will let you know whether you can drive your car to the nearest repair shop or not.

4-    Inspect the coolant level

Once the vehicle is cooled down, the next step is to look at the court level. In most scenarios, local and might result in engine overheating before any other component. Therefore, if you notice that the coolant level is below a certain threshold, you must top it off or reach out to some roadside assistant to bring you some coolant and resolve the issue.

5-    Take your vehicle to the repair shop

Even though if your vehicle overheating problem was cleared out temporarily, this does not mean that you don't need to see a mechanic. In other words, enter overheating might happen intermittently, which means that you need to take immediate action and have a mechanic fix the problem so it doesn't happen again.

As we indicated before, some engine overheating scenarios might prevent you from driving the vehicle even for a single mile. Therefore, it is important that you ask the mechanic about the current situation and describes the existing temperature to see whether you can drive the car or not. Additionally, if you notice that the engine overheating issue is continuing, you must reach out to the towing company and have them tow the vehicle instead of driving it and causing severe issues.


Engine overheating is one of the most dangerous problems that any vehicle might face. It immediately results in a complete engine failure that could cost you thousands of dollars if not taken care of or if you didn't take immediate action.

Understanding “how long can a car run hot before damage?” helps you make an informed decision about whether you can't continue driving the vehicle or you should stop it immediately. In general, automotive indicate that engine damages can't occur about 30 to 60 seconds after overheating, which means that you simply need to stop the vehicle immediately whenever you notice an increase in the engine temperature.

In some scenarios, engine overheating might damage the engine, which means that you need to replace the components to get the vehicle going. Unfortunately, most drivers spend thousands of dollars trying to fix the engine overheating problem, but what they didn't think about is that selling the vehicle is a better idea than dealing with his damage and risking whether to get it resolved.

The good news is that Cash Cars Buyer is willing to remove your car within one to three days only! Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States.

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  • Describe your car’s type and condition
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