When the temperature outside rises, so does the temperature inside your vehicle. Experts say an overheated engine could hit 260 F or higher. In that kind of heat, it’s important to know how to safely fix your car.

Several things can cause your car’s engine to overheat, but the culprit is often a component of the cooling system, such as the fan, radiator, thermostat, hoses or coolant. Here are some tips for tracking down the problem and getting back on the road safely.


1. Turn off the A/C and turn up the heat 

Running the air conditioner can overwork your engine. Turning on the heater will blow excess heat from the engine into the car. This seems counterintuitive (and uncomfortable on a hot summer day), but it does help cool down the engine.

2. Pull over, turn off the engine and open the hood once the engine temperature has lowered

Doing this will release the heat — but be careful. To avoid a blast of dangerously hot steam, keep the hood shut until the temperature gauge has moved out of the red zone.

3. Check coolant levels in the radiator

If the antifreeze is improperly circulating, the engine will start to overheat. Be sure to check coolant levels regularly. If you are unsure where to find the coolant reservoir tank, consult your owner’s manual.

4. Park and rev the engine

This will make the fan and water pump work faster, which pulls more air and water through the car’s radiator to cool the engine.

5. Check the hoses

Within the engine are upper and lower radiator hoses and heater hoses. An overheated engine could mean these hoses are blocked, disconnected or broken.

6. Never remove the radiator cap while the engine is hot

Taking off the radiator cap too quickly can result in serious burns. Experts recommend that drivers slowly twist off the cap with a towel. If needed, fill coolant to the top of the radiator.


When you notice your engine overheating, the best thing to do is get your car towed to the nearest mechanic. However, being prepared now can help avoid expensive repairs later.

Another great way to keep your vehicle in top shape is by using high-quality products. Learn how Cenex® Top Tier™ detergent gasoline and Cenex Maxtron® PCMO full-synthetic gasoline engine oil can help you make fewer trips to the mechanic.


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