How to Cool an Overheated Engine
On the Road Extreme Driving
cars.com On the Road Weekly Publication
12:55 PM EDT, June 14, 2011
By Shamit Choksey
- Turn your heater on full power to pull some of the heat out of the engine
- Move your car off the road as soon as possible — preferably into a safe lane.
- Shut your engine off as soon as you're in a safe spot and call roadside assistance.
- Pop your hood. This allows air to get to the engine compartment. Do this slowly and carefully. A sudden intake of oxygen can cause a smoldering engine to burst into flames.
- If you can safely open the hood, check for a leaky hose or broken belt. But remember: You can't replace any parts until the engine compartment completely cools down. This could take up to a few hours.
- Check the ground to see if any fluids have been leaking. Antifreeze has a greenish color and a sweet smell. An oil leak could denote a more serious problem.
- Don't drive an overheating vehicle any farther than necessary. Doing so can result in significant — and expensive — engine damage.
- Don't touch anything under the hood until the engine compartment has cooled.
- Don't remove the radiator cap from a hot engine. Hot fluids could shoot out.
- Don't put cold water on — or in — a hot engine. Not only can it damage mechanical parts, it can also create hot steam. Allow the engine to cool on its own.