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  • Subject area(s): Science
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  • Published on: 15th October 2019
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Getting stuck on the road with motor overheating problem is really frustrating and annoying. You can do your self a big favor if you understand basic stuff like how vehicle system works. Here I am going to discuss few possible causes and troubleshooting tips. As always I am going to keep it short and simple. First of all, I am going to explain in brief how heat exchanging system works and what are different components. As we know motor produce heat while running. Heat exchanging system helps to keep engine heat around operating temperature. Coolant is used as a heat carrier in heat exchanging system. Coolant is also known as water/antifreeze.

There is the number of events that can cause this problem. Below I am going to discuss few main causes and some tips on how to fix this problem.

Check antifreeze level and look for leaks: First of all take a look at antifreeze level. If reservoir level is low or totally empty that simply means that the system is leaking somewhere either externally or there is the internal leak. Check hoses, around thermostat and radiator for external leaks. Internal leaks mean water is leaking internally inside the engine. Internal leaking is hard to find and can cause major motor damage. It can destroy piston rings and head gasket. External leakage is easy to find and fix. Replace bad hoses and tight loose clamps to fix the external leak.

Inspect thermostat: The thermostat can get stuck either fully open or fully closed. If it is stuck open that means the engine will always run a below-recommended temp or if it is stuck closed engine will run hotter than operating temperature. Engine operating temperature is usually between 180-200 degree Fahrenheit.

Inspect Rad condition: Antifreeze is half and half cooling chemical and normal water. As we know water is the major cause of rust. Yes, Water can also cause corrosion inside exchanging system. Over time rust can plug rad and other hoses. In order to check rad (radiator) check both upper and lower hose when the motor is running if one side is hot and other side is cold that means rad (radiator) is the problem and it is plugged. Be careful Do not stick your hand between running fan. It can cause major injury.

Test Rad Fan: Check if the rad fan is working. You can check fan by giving direct power to fan from the battery. Most of the cars have two fans. Make sure to check both fans. Use flexible wires to connect positive and negative from battery to fan. After connecting wires, if there is no response it means faulty fans. Even one bad fan can cause problems. Check with your mechanic for fan replacement.

Faulty pressure cap: Rad (radiator) cap looks like small and minor component in the system but it plays a major role. The cap helps to sustain certain pressure inside the system. As we know liquid under pressure has low freezing and high boiling point. Basic, physics right? Minor leakage inside the system can cause the pressure to drop and leads to major problems. Check rad caps rubber seal and replace if there is any cut or damage. Caution: Always Safety first guys. Never take off Rad cap when the motor is running and under pressure.

Keep the vehicle up to date: Maintenance of vehicle on regularly basic is really critical. Most people do not service their vehicle on time. Always service your car on time and do not forget to change coolant. Most modern cars use long life usually red in color antifreeze that can last for 100 k km. Always recycle old coolant. Do not dump in the drain because it is not environment-friendly.

why car overheat when heat is on?

Most cars are equipped with heater core under the dash to warm up the air. Antifreeze circulates through the heater core and uses engine heat. Other than providing warm air inside the cab, heater core helps to cool the antifreeze for the engine operations. If there is the minor leak inside the core, cooling system operating pressure is going to drop and the level is also going to fall really low which leads to higher motor temperature. If the coolant passages within the core become clogged, it will block the flow and it won't be able to heat the air and block flow to the motor. The easiest fix is to replace the core and it is not that expensive.

Why car overheat when the A/C is on?

A/C puts an extra mechanical load on the engine because power is needed to run the compressor and the alternator works harder due to additional load from the A/C compressor. When the AC is off, there’s plenty of cool air passing through the radiator fins to stop the engine from overheating. The AC condenser is located in front of the motor radiator that is why radiator gets a bit hot air when the AC is turned on. The system is designed in that way but when the radiator gets old and less productive, the additional heat from the AC condenser is sufficient to overheat the motor.

Transmission fluid in the coolant?

The transmission cooler is usually located inside the radiator. The transmission cooler is the only location where coolant and transmission fluid could possibly be mixing together. There is possible of coolant inside the transmission as well because the pressure in the radiator is usually higher than the pressure in the transmission coolant. Always repair the cause as soon as possible because it can damage the transmission and modern transmissions are really expensive.

Bubbles in overflow tank but no visible leak?

If you have recently flushed and refilled the coolant and there are air pockets stuck in the system. As the vehicle heats up, air pockets expand and are pushed up to the reservoir. In order to avoid that problem, always refill radiator from the bottom and use the vacuum to draw the air out.

in case there are no external leaks, that means air is leaking inside the cooling system is from the combustion chamber. when there is the crack in the head gasket it permits air to get into the antifreeze. Even a minor leak in the head gasket can allow exhaust gasses from the cylinders into the system. air escape through the radiator pressure cap and create bubbles. once motor cools down faulty head gasket restrict the back pressure for coolant to go back to the radiator and as the motor heats up the coolant go to the overflow tank instant of the radiator.

What happens when coolant leaks into the engine?

When the engine is off, the coolant will drain into the oil pan and engine oil level will rise. Coolant cause engine oil to turn milky. there are additives inside the oil to improve viscosity and to reduce acid. Contaminated oil will not lubricate the bearings effectively and oil pressure will drop. If coolant drains above the pistons it can lead to engine hydro-lock. motor hydro-lock is the condition of engine seizure due to coolant leaks into the combustion chamber. As we know water is in-compressible, if combustion chamber is full with water it will not turn and can damage the connecting rods.

How to repair a hydro-locked engine?

If the engine is not turning at all. First of all remove the spark plugs and try to take out the coolant(use vacuum ) by turning the motor either by hand or by starter motor. Then take off the oil pan drain plug and drain the contaminated oil from the sump, spray fresh engine oil into the cylinders and turn the engine a few turns. Put brand new oil and install spark plugs back (make sure plugs are dry). Take your car to the certified mechanic for the head job because it is important to fix the cause.

When the engine is running the oil pump's pickup tube will draw the contaminated oil and send to the engine oil gallery. As the oil heats up the oil/coolant mixture undergoes a chemical reaction and attack the internal engine parts.

How does overheating can damage the engine?

Most car manufacturers use aluminum to make pistons. Aluminum is very sensitive to temperature and heats up faster than engine block because the block is usually made up of cast iron. When motor overheats, pistons expand quicker than the block and they can bind against the cylinder. Seized pistons can break the connecting rods and damage the very high temperature, additives inside the oil break down rapidly which results in thinner oil and lower lubrication. Thinner oil can damage crankshaft main bearings, cam bearings, and other engine components.

How to temporarily fix a blown head gasket?

Fairly speaking I think there is no temporary fix for a cracked head gasket but still, In an emergency, You can take a chance with head gasket sealer. For a quick and short-term fix, you can try chemical products like bar’s leaks chemical sealants. Always keep in mind that it’s only a short-term fix and could cause major problems like the obstruction in a coolant passage and blocked radiator tubes. It will get more serious with time, and I advise you to take your car to the certified repair shop and get it fixed as soon as possible.

Why is the fan kicking on frequently?

There is a heat sensitive switch that comes on after the coolant reaches a certain temperature, If the car is stuck in heavy traffic where less air is flowing through the radiator to cool off the internal engine heat then the fan is going to work harder. The electric fan consumes the really small amount of energy because it does not turn when the motor is getting enough air flow through it. Most cars rad fan only operates when there is lack of air flow or rad is plugged externally.

What to do when the car overheats while driving?

If car overheats while driving, always park it on sake spot and turn off the engine. Driving an overheated car will damage the head gasket leading to engine seizure. Open the bonnet it helps to dissipate the heat quickly and never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot. Always wait for the car to cool down and never pour water on the engine to bring the temperature down. Allow the car to cool down naturally and it reduces the pressure in the cooling system to a safe level. When the temperature is normal, check the level and inspect the coolant condition. If the level is low you can add water if coolant is not available. Take your vehicle to the verified technician for repair.

Which one is better green and orange coolant?

Both kinds are glycol-based, the biggest gap between them is that they contain different corrosion preventive additives. Different suppliers use different colors. Please always READ what it says on the container and compare that to what car manufacturer recommends. Never mix two different kind coolants together.

Is it safe to overfill reservoir?

As antifreeze heats up, its density reduces and expands than flows into the overflow tank. If the tank is already full, it will spill on the ground. Coolant is not environment-friendly and contamination the ground. Always turn the heater control to fully open when you drain the old contaminated coolant and leave it open when putting in the fresh one. Heater control can cause air to enter the system if it is not open which can result in engine overheating problem.

How to avoid overheating problem?

Regularly keep track of antifreeze level, stay up to date with scheduled maintenance, pay special attention to all kinds of leaks and check your radiator pressure cap on regular basis. Keep oil service interval in check, bad oil can lead to overheating. Inspect rad fans blades and run your car to the operating temperature to check if both fans are working properly. Always inspect drive belts cracks and RAD for any external antifreeze drips.

As always I hope this article is going to assist you. Leave me your important comments and concerns. Click on subscribe button for updates.

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