smoking car

Watching your temperature needle slowly start to move towards the red is never a fun experience. When your bonnet starts smoking and there’s a sharp, potent smell, you know that something’s definitely gone wrong. In simple terms, your car is overheating! This isn’t a unique issue, though, and you shouldn’t panic. At RAW2K, we also know it doesn’t have to mean the end of the line for your wheels, and we’ve got a lot of tried and tested advice for how to cool an overheated car and get things back to normal. Let’s take a look.

Why is my car overheating?

Before looking at solutions, it’s a good idea to identify what’s causing your car to overheat. Some of the main problems include:

  • Coolant leak in a broken radiator

  • Snapped or cracked engine/radiator hose

  • A thermostat that’s stuck either open or closed

  • Blown head gasket

  • Your radiator fan isn’t working

How to cool an overheated car

When you see your car is overheating, the first thing you need to remember is not to panic.

If you’re driving, pull over onto the side of the road. Turn your air conditioning off and roll down your windows. You can then turn your heater on, which will pull warm air away from the engine. All of these things done together should start to bring the dial on your temperature gauge back down, slowly cooling the car.

The next step is to pop the hood and let the air circulation cool the engine. Leave it to cool for 5-10 minutes before checking within the hood to see if you can identify the problem and if it’s something you can fix yourself. If you can’t, it’s time to get your towing company on the phone. 

What not to do when your car overheats

The first thing not to do when your car overheats is to keep driving. As soon as that temperature gauge is moving into the danger zone, pull over and stop the car as soon as it’s safe to do so. You also shouldn’t turn your A/C any higher or speed the car up. Hoping it’ll simply go away by continuing to drive as normal is likely to lead to some pretty serious damage, too, so it’s important you treat any overheating seriously.

How long does it take for an overheated car to cool?

When you’re implementing a temporary fix for an overheating car, it should cool to a safe level within around 30 minutes. If you’re planning on fixing the problem yourself, we’d suggest leaving it for at least an hour (preferably a few hours) before doing anything, including taking the red cap off of your engine. 

Sometimes an overheated car is a quick fix. Other times, it might be a sign of serious issues within the mechanics of your car, making it easier to scrap the vehicle than to spend a lot of time and money to keep it running. If this is the case for you, we can help.

With over 20 years of experience running salvage car auctions, our team at RAW2K provide exceptional service for all of our customers and makes it easy to get rid of a car that doesn’t run like it used to. We also have a wide range of bargain vehicles and salvage parts available. Take a look around our website to learn more or get in touch with our friendly team by sending an email to [email protected].