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What to do if your engine is overheating?

by Saima Omar | 05 Sep 2018

You may have just discovered that your engine is overheating. Maybe you're looking for ways to prevent an engine overheating? Did you know that a car’s Engine get so hot under normal driving conditions that there is a complete system devoted to cooling it down? That’s because an engine overheating will cause problems and even can eventually lead to engine failure. Instead of shelling out thousands of pounds and enduring a ton of stress, here’s a primer on some common causes of overheating — and how to keep up with your cooling system before disaster strikes.

How Does a Car’s Cooling System Work?

The cooling system is relatively straight forward: A thermostat regulates when the temperature is right to allow circulation. Once the car is warmed up, hot coolant flows from the engine through a radiator to remove heat from the liquid (by way of air and fan) before getting pumped back through the engine to cool internal components and pick up more heat before heading back to the radiator.

What Causes an Engine to Overheat?

The most common causes of engine overheating are:

  • Low or leaking coolant will cause engine to overheat
  • A bad thermostat that won’t open to allow circulation of air
  • Fan malfunctions that cause the fan to stop spinning correctly
  • Other common causes might include a broken or damaged water pump belt that prevents appropriate pressure and/or circulation, collapsed radiator hoses or a build-up of contaminants such as rust and road debris.

What Should You Do If Your Engine is Overheating?

The most important thing you can do for your cooling system is to keep on top of it. Get it checked at an Approved Garage. There is a temperature gauge on the dash to aid you, but it doesn’t hurt to pop the hood every now and then to make sure your coolant level is as it should be and to check on the fan belt condition. It’s normal to top off your coolant every so often, but if you’re having to do it regularly — or if you see a tell-tale puddle of coolant under your car — your system will need to be pressure-tested to locate any leaks.

If your vehicle overheats while driving, pull over and shut off the vehicle to assess the situation. Pop the hood and allow the engine to cool for 45 minutes. Opening the system and starting to add cold fluid while the engine is still hot is dangerous for both you and the engine. If there’s only a small leak, adding water will be good enough to get you to a Approved Garage, but you’ll need to replace it with proper coolant so there’s no risk of damage in cold weather. If the level looks fine, carefully check the temperature of both top and bottom radiator hoses — if one is very hot and the other is not, this points to a thermostat that is stuck closed.

Ultimately, though, if you are out of coolant, no tricks will save you and your car. You will need to stop the vehicle, or risk severe engine damage.

Safety Precaution for when your engine is overheated:

Never remove a radiator cap while the engine is still hot! The system is pressurised, and hot coolant will spray out and onto your face and arms.

To find your nearest Approved Garage, simply head over to our homepage and fill in your postcode. This will bring up a list of garages that specialist repair garages who can look at your overheated engine.

Quick steps to selecting your Approved Garage…


Firstly, pop in your postcode or town


Select a garage near your location


Speak to a trusted mechanic, send an online enquiry or book online


Then, sit back in the knowledge that your vehicle is in safe hands