Is An Overheating Car Safe To Drive?


The angry hissing sound of steam. The acrid smell of burning coolant. The sudden loss of power as your engine seizes up. These are the horrid sensations that are all too familiar to anyone who has ever had their car overheat.


Your first impulse when this happens is often to pull off to the side of the road and call a tow truck. But is this always the best course of action? In some cases, it may be possible to safely drive your car even after it has overheated. Let's look at some details of overheating to better evaluate when it is and isn't safe to drive on.


What's Going Wrong?

You drive your car every day, and it works just fine. So you may be wondering: how could my car overheat? Your vehicle's cooling system is a complex network of parts that all have to work together for your car to function correctly. If even one component fails, it can cause the whole system to break down. Here are some common reasons why cars overheat:

 · A radiator that is not full of coolant

· A faulty water pump

· A thermostat that is not opening or closing correctly

· A fan belt that has snapped or come loose

· Leaking hoses

· A head gasket that has blown


As you can see, many different things can go wrong and cause your car to overheat. If any of these parts fail, it can lead to big problems.


Should I Drive My Car After It Overheats?

Overheating is an inherent risk of every gasoline engine. Although most cars can only overheat for 30 to 60 seconds before damage begins, they all have a temperature threshold that must not be exceeded. If the car's temperature rises above that limit, it will swiftly harm the engine. If the temperature reaches high enough, your valves may seize, or even a piston may blow.


Therefore, it's the safest decision not to drive your car if it has overheated.


What Not to Do to an Overheated Car:

Most of us already know that we need to pull over, switch off the engine and let the car cool down when it overheats. But what are the things we should avoid doing?


1. Don't Pour Cold Water Over a Hot Engine:

It is perhaps the most common mistake people make. They think that since water is cooling, it will help to cool down the engine faster. However, the sudden temperature change can cause the engine to crack. So, resist the urge to pour water over a hot engine.


2. Don't Remove the Radiator Cap:

The radiator cap is there for a reason - to keep the coolant in. When you remove it, the coolant can start spurting out, and you could get seriously burned. Wait until the engine has cooled thoroughly before removing the radiator cap.


3. Never Ignore Warning Lights:

The check engine light is there for a reason. It's telling you that something is wrong with your car. Ignoring it will only worsen the problem.


If you're unsure about a warning light, consult your owner's manual or take your car to a mechanic.


Bottom Line:

Regular car maintenance is the key to preventing overheating. Bill Holt Chevrolet, serving Chatsworth, GA, can help you keep your car in top condition. We offer a variety of services, from transmission repairs to oil changes.


Schedule an appointment with us without delay!