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Understanding Car Issues

When I began thinking more seriously about car issues, it occurred to me that there were a few things I needed to do if I wanted to make things easier for myself in the long run. For starters, I began taking my car in for regular auto service, which really helped out. It was really interesting to see how many different things had to be fixed every time I went in, but when my car didn't have as many problems, I could tell that it was really paying off. This website is all about understanding and preventing car problems by making better choices.



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Understanding Car Issues

Is It Ever Safe To Drive An Overheating Car?

by Micheal Barrett

It might feel sweltering under the heat of the summer sun, but the interior of your car's engine is much, much hotter. The standard operating temperature will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but you can expect your coolant to be warm enough to cause severe burns. Unfortunately, your car's engine can get much hotter than this if your cooling system isn't correctly functioning.

Overheating can be just as dangerous for your car as running low on oil. As the internal temperature climbs, your oil's lubricating properties may begin to break down, rapidly increasing internal friction and wear. Additionally, the high temperatures may physically warp the engine block or other components. In a nutshell, overheating can rapidly destroy an engine, even one in otherwise pristine condition.

Recognizing the Signs of Overheating

The easiest way to tell that your vehicle is overheating is to watch the temperature gauge on your dash. Small fluctuations don't indicate a problem, but the needle should not continuously climb above the middle of the indicator. If you're concerned about overheating, pay special attention to the gauge when idling, in high heat, or when you have the air conditioner running at full blast.

Overheating damage can occur very quickly, so it's critical to pull over and turn your vehicle off as soon as you notice the temperature climbing well above the center of the indicator. Never allow the temperature to rise to the red part of the gauge unless there is no safe way to move your car off the road. If necessary, you can turn your heater on fully to provide some extra cooling for your engine.

In rare cases, it's possible for the coolant temperature gauge to fail, leading to inaccurate readings on your dash. This failure will usually trigger a check engine light. Since overheating can potentially result in severe damage, it's critical to avoid driving your car until you resolve this issue. You should also have the sensor checked if you notice your temperature gauge seems stuck in one place.

How Long Can You Drive When Overheating?

The short answer is that any length of time is too long if your engine is overheating, and one overheating event is enough to cause internal damage. However, you may be able to drive for extremely short distances if your temperature gauge is rising slowly and remaining relatively close to the middle of the range. You can attempt to bring your vehicle to a parking lot or another safe area in these cases.

Once you park your vehicle, you should immediately call for a tow to have a trusted service shop diagnose and repair the problem. Since overheating can progress rapidly, you shouldn't attempt to drive your car home or to a shop. Even if you think you can make it without the temperature climbing too much, it's much better to take the safer route and potentially avoid a much larger repair bill.

Contact a local auto repair shop to learn more.