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Prevent Engine Overheating: Watch for these Signs

Learn how to handle engine overheating with Rick's Camaros, and keep your car running smoothly.

Great. Just great. You're having a really nice day, going for a drive - and your car decides that now, of all times, it's going to overheat. Great. Just great. That leaves you on the road, wondering why is my car overheating, yet without all the tools in the garage to help figure that out.

It happens to the best of us. Cars run hot, especially in the summer months, when we love to hit the road. And while rare, it is possible for cars to overheat during colder, winter temperatures.

There are myriad reasons for why a car is overheating. The trick is to know what to look for while you're driving. Of course, you know to always keep an eye on the temperature gauge or a warning light, if your dash has them. However, if you have an older car and keeping it as authentic as possible, you may not have such a warning system, which means you have to check the old-fashioned way by keeping an eye out for steam.

At Rick's Camaros, we've put together some tips to help you protect your investment in to your Camaro's cooling system. The bottom line is that if you ignore these warning signs and push that engine past its limits, you can do serious, costly damage to your cooling system or engine.

These common causes of overheating are signs that your cooling system is in trouble:

  1. Turn off your air conditioning and see if the temperature goes down. You can also turn on your heater to move heat away from your engine. If neither of these steps help, pull over.
  2. Look for steam. If you're driving and you see even the slightest bit of steam coming from under your hood, pull over quickly and turn off your car engine. And we mean OFF. Not idling.
  3. Lift the hood. Look out! It could be hot under that hood, so your best bet is to let the car sit, turned OFF, so it can cool down a bit before you decide to lift the hood.
  4. Check your coolant level. If your coolant level in the reservoir is normal it's an indication you probably have a problem with your temperature gauge. If your coolant level is lower than it should be or worse, empty, you probably have a leak and need to call for some roadside assistance at this point.
  5. Pay attention to idling. Most cars take advantage of the airflow created while driving, and more modern cars feature channeled grills that collect and direct air for even more efficient cooling. But that doesn't work while waiting for your order in a drive-through lane, or waiting your turn at a stop light. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge on car and/or listen for your fan to kick on while idling, because if you observe a temperature creep, that will be a sign of a problem to diagnose.

Can't wait for roadside help? If you've got coolant with you and you do see the coolant level is low, and you are sure the engine is safe and cool to touch, fill both the reservoir and the radiator with coolant. If you drive along and it happens again, pull over and again, let things cool down and refill them again. Once you're able to get to a garage or back home where you can work on it, don't put off getting a full check-up done on your coolant system.