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What Do You Do If Your Engine Overheats on The Road?

What Do You Do If Your Engine Overheats on The Road?

Understanding “what do you do if your engine overheats on the road?” is very critical for any driver to prevent major engine damages due to overheating. In general, when your engine overheats on the, here's all you need to do:

1-    Try turning on the heater

2-    Pull over and stop the vehicle

3-    Do not panic

4-    Check the coolant level and top it off if necessary

5-    Get to the nearest repair shop

Vehicles are equipped with many complicated internal components that help bring your attention to any internal problem. For example, your vehicle's dashboard will immediately let you know that your vehicle is about to overheat once the engine temperature increases beyond a certain threshold.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Acting immediately is a must when dealing with engine overheating, but “what do you do if your engine overheats on the road?” is still unclear to many inexperienced drivers. Therefore, this article will walk you through a list of dos and don'ts that you must follow to deal with engine overheating on the road.

Why Do engines overheat?

Before we discuss the details about “what do you do if your engine overheats on the road?” It is important to highlight the main reasons behind engine overheating that most drivers might not understand.

Your vehicle's engine consists of many internal moving components, and these components generate excess heat as they grant against each other. Also, the engine operates continuous combustion prophecies that result in significantly high heat flux by increasing the engine temperature.

In general, your vehicle is equipped with many systems that help bring the engine temperature down whenever it exceeds a certain threshold. For example, your vehicle's cooling system is responsible for sending coolant around the engine to suck up any excess heat and bring its temperature down.

Also, the vehicle relies on the engine motor to lubricate any internal moving components and prevent engine overheating due to friction. Obviously, you’re recommended to change the motor oil once every certain threshold specified in your vehicle's owner’s manual to continue getting the same characteristics and prevent engine issues.

When there is a problem with one of the components responsible for cooling the engine, you will immediately deal with engine overheating. For example, if any component within the cooling system gets damaged, you will immediately deal with engine overheating. Similarly, if the engine's oil is not at the right level, you will also have high temperatures facing your engine.

What happens if your car overheats, and you keep driving?

It's important to understand what exactly could happen when you ignore engine overheating and continue driving your vehicle. By understanding what causes engine overheating, you will immediately know what could face you in terms of negative consequences.

When you continue driving an overheated vehicle, you will sacrifice the engine because the engine cylinders might get damaged, and the engine itself might get self-destructed. As a result, the 1st and most complicated consequence of engine overheating are needing a new engine.

In less severe scenarios, you might not immediately deal with damaged engines when your vehicle overheats. But you will face some symptoms indicating that your vehicle is not happy about what's going on. In other words, engine misfiring and a significant power reduction will be the most common symptoms, indicating a slight engine overheating in your vehicle.

What do you do if your engine overheats on the road?

Therefore, no matter the reason behind continuing to drive your car, it is never recommended. Automotive experts indicated that you should follow certain steps when dealing with engine overheating on the road. These steps are highlighted below:

1-    Try turning on the heater

The first simple trick you can try when your engine overheats on the road is turning on the heater. It might sound a little weird to inexperienced drivers, but that is very effective. When you turn on the heater, the heater sucks off a lot of heat from the engine to send the temperature inside your vehicle. With that, your engine temperature will be reduced significantly.

Keep in mind that this simple trick works only if the overheating is not severe. In other words, give it a try for a couple of minutes, and if it didn't work to get the warning light to go away, you must follow the next steps immediately to prevent dealing with major damages in your vehicle.

2-    Pull over and stop the vehicle

Whether you’re driving on city roads or the highway, you must find a way to pull over and stop your vehicle. First, you need to select a safe location where you can stop your car, which means that if you're driving on the highway, you need to take the nearest exit and stop your car in a safe area other than the highway shoulders.

In some severe scenarios, significant engine overheating might force you to stop your vehicle and pull over on the highway. Based on the severity of the symptoms that you're looking into; you can make an informed decision about whether you still have time to exit the highway or you should immediately stop the car at the shoulder and request roadside assistance.

3-    Do not panic

While engine overheating problems are critical, it doesn't mean that you have to panic. In other words, you got to be patient and wait for the road service assistance to come. In general, your vehicle might need about 15 minutes to cool down before you see the warning light going away.

During that time, you must never open the hood or touch the area around the coolant. This is because the court will be extremely hot, and any attempt to open the hood or remove the coolant cap results in a high risk of burns that is the last thing anyone would want to deal with.

4-    Check the coolant level and top it off if necessary

Once the vehicle is cooled down for at least 15 minutes, and if the roadside assistance did not come yet, you can go ahead and check the coolant level. In most scenarios, engine overheating happens due to some leaks or drops in the coolant levels.

Follow your vehicle's owner’s manual on how to check the coolant level. You must be proactive about these types of problems by raising yourself on how to perform the check because as you are in this situation, it can be a little challenging to learn or try new things.

After checking the coolant level, if you realize that it is not at the right needed level by your vehicle, you can go ahead and top it off. Of course, this assumes that you have some extra coolant in your vehicle, and that's a good lesson for you to know that you should have backup coolant in your vehicle for cases of emergencies.

5-    Get to the nearest repair shop

After topping off the coolant, you can monitor the vehicle's behavior and seat when you turn it on. What happens. In other words, if the overheating warning light is still there, you might not be able to drive the vehicle to the repair shop, and you'd better reach out to a towing company to tow your vehicle there.

However, if you notice that the warning light is gone, it does not mean that you have to be confident about it and ignored the problem here. This is because engine overheating might require additional investigation to check why it happened in the first place. In many cases, engine overheating happens due to an internal coolant leak or minor or major. If you don't see a huge puddle of coolant underneath the vehicle, it is not necessarily mean that there is no leak.

Therefore, despite the situation and despite where your vehicle it's at now in terms of overheating, you must have a professional mechanic take a closer look at the car and check for any other internal problems that need to be resolved so you can drive the vehicle safely without worrying about engine overheating issues.

How do I know if my engine is damaged from overheating?

When you ignore the engine after overheating, there might be a point where you deal with complete engine damages. Before you get to that, you will start noticing some of the following symptoms indicating internal engine damages:

  • Very hot vehicles hood
  • Very high-temperature gauge reading
  • Weird ticking noises from the engine
  • Coolant leaks on the floor and around the engine
  • Weird hot smell coming from the vehicle
  • Strong steam gushing from the hood of the vehicle
  • Strange humming sounds
  • Significant reduction in the engine's power
  • Lowered fuel economy

How long does it take for an engine to cool down after driving?

Although we mentioned that it might take your engine about 15 minutes to cool down, experts suggest waiting up to 30 minutes for a complete engine cool down.

Can I pour water on my engine to cool it down?

No, pouring water on your engine is never a good idea because it results in many negative complications. According to experts, pouring water on a hot engine results in thermal shocks and might cause some cracks within the engine's internal components.

When the engine's internal components get cracked, the hot gases escape from the cylinders, or probably the different liquids get into the engine cylinders leading to severe problems.

Why is my car overheating when the coolant is full?

While and overheating most likely happens due to problems with low coolant levels, there are plenty of other reasons that you might be dealing with.

For example, you might have an issue with the water pump or probably the thermostat within the cooling system. In some scenarios, even hoses problems might cause engine overheating issues.

The other thing that you need to keep in mind also is the oil level. Oil is also part of the components that are responsible for cooling down the engine. So, therefore, if you are coolant is full, it doesn't necessarily mean that your oil level is at the right measurement, and you might be dealing with a low engine oil level. As we indicated earlier, when your oil level drops below a certain point, your engine's internal components will interact with each other causing a lot of friction that could result in engine overheating.

Whatever the cause of engine overheating needs to be taken care of. In other words, whether it's an issue with the cooling system components or with the oil and lubrication system, you must take care of it immediately because you can't sacrifice the engine.


Being proactive about engine overheating problems is critical for every driver to prevent dealing with major damages. Learning about what you do if your engine overheats on the road is one of the most critical skill sets that you must familiarize yourself with.

In general, will, when your engine overheats on the road, you must turn on the heater, pull over your vehicle, be patient, check the coolant level and top it off if needed, and get your vehicle to that repair shop either by driving it or towing it depending on the severity of the overheating.

Enter overheating complications might lead to a complete engine failure. It might be a little overwhelming to deal with repair costs and install a new engine when that happens. Therefore, many drivers tend to give up on their vehicles and sell them.

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