The last thing most people expect when they get behind the wheel is the overheating of their car engines. But it is important to know which steps to take when a car overheats so that you can handle the situation effectively and keep safety a priority. This is what you should do if you are in a vehicle that overheats.
If your car overheats, pull over as soon as it's safe to do so, says Donny Seyfer, head of the National Automotive Service Task Force.  "Most of the time this type of thing happens, the driver does not have access to resources to do anything useful," says Seyfer. If so, he recommends that the driver turns off the car and requires a trailer, and adds that even a overheating unit, if large enough, can permanently damage the engine.
You can also buy a little time to get off the road by turning the heater on full blast, according to Tony Molla, vice president of the Automotive Service Association. to provide additional cooling through the heat core, he says, but ultimately "is the best way to cool down the vehicle to turn it off." and adds that it normally takes at least 30 minutes for a hot engine to cool down. And while it may be tempting, make sure you don't open the radiator cap while the engine is hot, Seyfer warns. This is because hot coolant can cause serious burns.
Seyfer adds that leaving the system closed until it completely cools can actually be better for the engine as well.
What are the warning signs?
You don't have to wait until you see that steam rises from the hood to realize that your car has difficulties, according to Molla, because there are often earlier signs that something is crazy. "A symptom may be that the heater does not get hot," says Molla, as it may indicate that the engine's thermostat is fixed or that the coolant is low.
A look at the temperature gauge can also help. "You can see that an overheating problem develops if the temperature gauge is higher than normal," Molla explains.
However, if the temperature warning light comes on, the problem is serious, Molla says. The same goes for a sudden outbreak of steam from under the hood, which he says is usually a sign that a radiator hose has been blown.
What are some preventative measures?
So, what causes cars to overheat? The most common culprit is low engine coolant, says Molla, so a good defense is regular maintenance of the vehicle. "You can make a quick visual check of your coolant by looking at the plastic tank under the hood," Molla says. "It will have the smallest coolant level mark for easy reference." Drivers may want to regularly check the car's coolant level and, if necessary, top it up.
But there are other reasons for a car to overheat, so it is important to have a plan to regularly inspect the entire car's cooling system.
"Follow the maintenance plan from your vehicle manufacturer," says Molla. "The older the vehicle, the more likely it is the need for maintenance, ranging from replacing old coolant or worn belts or hoses that can leak or cause a water pump to malfunction."
Most engine coolant will be about 1
It is difficult to predict when a car will overheat. But keeping up with preventive measures and knowing what to do if your car is happening can help you avoid any expensive repairs on the road.