Summer is officially here! Any travel plans? The beautiful summer weather calls for epic road trips and fun in the sun. Don’t let your summer travel plans get ruined with an overheating engine.
The Cooling System
There are 4 main components that make up a vehicle’s cooling system:
- The radiator itself
- Air: the air flowing through the radiator
- Water: water caries heat through the system to the radiator
- Head Load: excess heat from the engine going into the water
In order for your vehicle to run properly and not overheat, all of these components must be working together correctly, and there are a number of things that can go wrong.
Thankfully, steps can be taken to keep the system in perfect running order. Here are some simple steps to preventing your engine from overheating, and what to do if it does.
6 Simple Ways To Prevent Your Engine From Overheating This Summer
Inspect Your Engine Belts
Different types of vehicles and engines all have different belt systems. Some have one long serpentine belt, while others have multiple, smaller accessory belts. The belts transfer rotation energy from the engine to its vital components, such as your fan and water pump. These parts are vital components of your engines cooling system. So, if your fan belt breaks or falls off, the cooling system in your vehicle will fail and your engine will overheat almost immediately.
Extreme temperatures, such as the summer heat, place additional strain on your engine belts. It’s a good idea to apply a belt dressing, such as Berryman Tite-Grip Belt Dressing. This product maximizes the power transfer of the belt, eliminating slippage and improving efficiency of the parts it runs on. It will also extend the life of the belt by reducing the overall operating tension.
Clean Your Condenser
The more air that flows through the radiator, the better the cooling. Dirt and debris tends to collect and pile up at the front of your vehicle. If you have air conditioning, your A/C condenser will take the brunt of this build-up. Since your condenser sits immediately in front of your radiator, congestion here blocks air flow to the radiator and impedes engine cooling.
Cleaning the condenser helps increase the efficiency of the cooling system, by decreasing the pressure. A/C systems are basically heat exchange systems; they take heat from inside the engine and move it outside the engine through the condenser. If the condenser is clogged, damaged or doesn’t have good airflow, it will negatively affect the efficiency of the entire A/C and cooling system.
Inspect Your Radiator Cap
The radiator cap has a huge responsibility: it maintains pressure in your entire cooling system to prevent overheating and boiling over of fluids. The cap is spring loaded; over time, this cap can become weakened and worn out, eventually leading to minor air leaks. This will result in decreased pressure of the system, which can easily result in the engine becoming overheated.
Remember: Never touch your radiator cap while the engine is hot! It is under high pressure, and the liquid inside is incredibly hot. Make sure your engine is completely cool before doing any maintenance.
Make Sure Your Coolant is Topped-Up and In Good Condition
Your vehicle’s radiator relies on antifreeze (coolant) in order to function and keep your engine temperature under control. You want to check it frequently and make sure it’s topped up before driving.
Like any other fluid in your engine, coolant quality degrades with time. Unfortunately, poor coolant leaves deposits throughout your engine and radiator, leading to major issues with the entire system’s function. When checking your coolant, keep an eye out for any discoloration or debris. Cleaning your coolant system and replacing your coolant is an important part of vehicle maintenance and preventing overheating.
Keep Extra Coolant Around
A system that is running low on coolant is one of the main reasons why an engine overheats. It is a good idea to always keep extra coolant around, in the event you overheat or notice you are running low. If storing it in your vehicle for emergencies, be sure it is already pre-mixed 50/50 antifreeze/water.
Keep The Engine As Steady As Possible While Driving
Although this requires some patience, moving at a steady, slow pace while driving through town is a simple way to help prevent your engine from overheating in hot weather. This is particularly important in a stop-and-go traffic situation. Accelerating and braking quickly increases the load on the engine and causes it to work overtime. This will also create more heat inside the engine, and create more heat than necessary.
My Engine is Overheating… Now What?
Always keep an eye on your temperature gage while driving, particularly in hot summer weather. Driving with an overheated engine is a terrible idea, and you won’t get far. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to make sure this doesn’t lead to longer-lasting engine problems. Here are 3 simple steps to take if your car overheats:
As soon as you start to see that temperate gage needle creep up on the “H” zone, find a safe place to pull over and turn off your engine immediately. Open the hood to let the hot air escape, and the engine will begin to cool off on its own. Let the engine cool off before you do anything, such as refill the coolant or check your hoses, etc.
Turn the A/C Off & The Heat On
If you’re stuck in traffic and can’t pull over, shut off your A/C and turn the heat on instead. This will pull heat from out of your engine and into your vehicle. While it will make your drive incredibly uncomfortable, it can help get you to a spot where you can pull over and check your system for problems.
Shut The Engine Off, Then Turn The Key Back To “On” Position
By turning the key back on without starting your engine, the electrical parts will still work, including the radiator fan. This works similarly to turning the heat on as it helps pull heat out of the engine without generating more heat in the process. In certain circumstances, like when stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, this is one way to keep your engine a little cooler.
Don’t Be Caught Off Guard; Always Be Prepared With A Safety Kit
Regardless of weather or travel plans, it’s a good idea to always have a safety kit in your car at all times for emergency situations. Be sure to include within it extra coolant, a tool kit, flashlight, blanket, matches, First Aid, water and some non-perishable food items. You never know when you’re going to need these items, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Since 1918, Berryman has been committed to producing products that meet the highest quality standards of performance, reliability and environmental responsibility. Check out our website and Facebook page for accurate information and quality products you need to handle your most common vehicle issues.