When the temperature gauge on your automobile goes into the hot range, it’s a scary sight. The worst thing you can do is keep driving, hoping it will magically cool down without intervention. When an engine starts heading towards the red area on your gauge, it’s a cause for alarm, to let you know that your car is running hot.
Common Reasons Your Car is Running Hot
Many things can cause your engine to overheat. No one wants to pull over and deal with these issues, but if you don’t stop the car immediately, it can lead to total engine failure. Here are the most common reasons why your car is running hot.
1. Radiator Hose Leaks
A radiator hose leak is one of the most common reasons your engine will overheat. The hose can wear over time, or a clamp may have come loose. You may not see a leak, but you must look for evidence of one.
2. Low Coolant Level
Coolant does just what the name implies, as it cools the engine. The temperatures under the hood can get upwards of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and it will reach this temperature with the cooling system working.
You can see why you will have issues when the coolant level is too low. It’s not always just as easy as putting more coolant into the radiator, as you need to find the source of the leak. In most cases, a low coolant level is a sign of a big problem, and may be the cause of why your car is running hot.
3. Gasket Leaks
If you see steam or dripping coolant, then you could have a gasket leak. Three gaskets cause the most problems in your engine, and they are:
•Temperature Housing Gasket
•Water Pump Gasket
You can indicate a leak by looking for old stains or dripping. Sometimes the leak may be intermittent due to sludge in the lines. As the sludge moves around, the leak may stop for a while.
Consequently, as soon as it moves again, it will start all over. These are serious leakages, as they can lead to total engine failure.
4. Faulty Thermostat
Thermostats are inexpensive to replace and need to be replaced occasionally. It’s similar to the thermostat that controls the HVAC in your home. If you can’t adjust the temperature up or down, you will be miserable in your house.
Well, without this equipment working correctly, the engine will become too hot. The thermostat either gets stuck on open or close in most instances. This is one of the top causes of why your car is running hot, so it should be one of the first things checked.
5. Bad Water Pump
The average water pump will get anywhere from 60,000-90,000 miles. However, they can get a leak in a hose, or the internal fan can stop working at any time. Sometimes the pump will show signs of failure or leak before it goes out, but other times there will be no indication. These pumps go bad all the time, so it’s one of the things we check first, when your car is running hot.
6. AC Cooling Fan
Your AC system generates a lot of heat, as it’s removing warm air to replace it with cold. When the system engages, a fan turns on to help keep things cool. The fan can stop working for many reasons, including a simple fuse. The fan motor can also go bad, as well as a sensor.
7. Radiator Airflow Obstruction
The radiator sits in the front of your vehicle, so it picks up a lot of debris on the roadway. Occasionally, it’s good to clean out the fins to ensure it works properly. Things often get lodged between the grill and the radiator. An obstructed airflow can be the cause of why your car is running hot.
8. Cracked Head or Cylinder Wall
While there are some pretty benign things on this list, this one certainly isn’t one of them. When you have a cracked head or cylinder wall in your engine, it’s cause for alarm. The common signs of this are bubbles in the cooling system.
A compression test is the best way to identify this issue, as you must ensure the engine can hold compression. It can be a head gasket leaking, which is not always easy to find. When it comes to significant issues with your engine, you need to have a professional handle it.
9. Broken Fan Belts
Some automobiles have a belt-driven fan. These belts are rubber, so they can snap and break without warning. They also can squeal really loudly when they become worn, dirty, or misaligned. Check these often for wear and cracks, as they can leave you stranded should they break while driving.
When electrical currents get into your cooling system, electrolysis occurs. This low current will corrode the metal inside your system, and it can cause the engine to overheat and may be the cause of why your car is running hot. Loose or corroded ground straps often cause it. This current will destroy your radiator, heater, and water pump, but a voltmeter can help diagnose the problem.
Final Thoughts on Why Your Car is Running Hot
While these are ten reasons your engine can overheat and may be the cause of why your car is running hot, it’s certainly not all of them. These are just the most common ones we encounter at Cloverdale Auto. When your thermostat starts rising on your car, it’s time to pull over.
Even if it doesn’t go into the red zone, it still indicates that there’s a problem. There are some simple things that you can fix yourself, but for most issues dealing with an overheating vehicle, you need to call us for service.