Today’s cars have sophisticated cooling systems equipped with multiple heat sensors and computer-controlled electric fans designed to keep your engine running in any weather. But overheating can still happen and it is good if you know what to do if that does happen. We created a short list of the top 5 things to do if your engine overheats:

1. Turn on The Heater

It sounds counterintuitive, but we recommend turning on the heater. It draws warmth away from the engine and into the passenger compartment, lessening the burden on the engine’s cooling system. In certain circumstances, that may be enough to reverse the overheating. You’ll know it’s working if the warning light goes off or the temperature gauge returns to the neutral position.

2. Pull Over

If your car continues to overheat after you’ve been driving for a few minutes with the heater on, pull over and cut the engine off—it’s the safest and surest way to cool the engine. If you have roadside assistance, now is a good time to call, as you may need a tow.

3. Be Patient

If you don’t have roadside assistance, be patient; it will take at least 15 minutes for the engine to cool. In the meantime, do not attempt to open the hood; the coolant in a car that has overheated may be in excess of 230 degrees. Once the hood is open, there’s a risk of being sprayed with hot water or steam. Your personal safety is most important.

4. Add Coolant

After you’ve waited at least 15 minutes and the hood is cool to the touch, put on gloves, open the hood, and locate the radiator cap (consult the owner’s manual if necessary). Cover the cap with a towel and slowly push down and loosen it a quarter of a turn, to release pressure that has built up as a result of the coolant expanding when heated. Then fully open the radiator cap and slowly add coolant—half water, half antifreeze—until the liquid reaches the “full” line. You should also add coolant to the small, clear plastic overflow reservoir mounted to the side of the radiator, he says. Next, replace the cap and turn on the engine.

5. Drive To A Service Station

Adding coolant does nothing to address the problem that caused your engine to overheat in the first place, but it often allows you to drive safely to the nearest repair station. While driving, keep an eye on the temperature gauge. And take notice of everything, like fluid under the car or steam under the hood, this information can help us diagnose the issue quickly.

If you have more questions about your engine and overheating, give us a call today at Callahan Automotive. Our trained technicians are here to help you and your car stay on the road safely.