Why Is My Car Overheating?

Car Heat Gauge

Have you noticed your VW overheating? Your car could be overheating for several different reasons. Every vehicle has a “normal” temperature range, usually between 195 and 200 degrees. However, if your cooling system is leaking or your radiator is having trouble, you should definitely not drive your car. Driving an overheating car can put you and your vehicle in danger, and it’s likely to lead to major, lasting damage.

Take an in-depth look at the possible causes of an overheating car, and then get the help you need with Auffenberg Volkswagen in O'Fallon. Explore some of the most common car overheating causes below.

What Causes a Car to Overheat?

A common question we hear at the Auffenberg Volkswagen service center is, “Why is my car overheating?” If your car is overheating, you’re definitely dealing with a big problem. If you notice your car overheating, you will want to have the issue addressed right away. Here are the most common reasons a car would overheat on the roads near Madison and East St. Louis:

  • Leaking Cooling System – This is the single most common issue that leads to an overheating car. This system is composed of a radiator, several hoses, a water pump, a head gasket, and thermostat housing. All of these components can break and cause leaks. Learn about the dash light that indicates this problem with our guide to the VW Jetta warning lights.
  • Coolant Hose Blockage – Even if there’s no leak in your system, you might still experience overheating if there’s a block in your coolant hose. Dirt and debris, when trapped, might build up and prevent the system’s proper functioning.
  • Improper Coolant Mixture – Another one of the reasons for car overheating is not having the right coolant mixture. Most vehicles require a 50/50 water-to-coolant ratio. If your balance is off, or if you’ve used the wrong coolant for your vehicle, there’s a chance your vehicle could overheat.
  • Radiator Issues – If your radiator has broken, or if it’s struggling with a blockage or a leak, you’ll start to see major problems right away. These problems can be expensive to fix, and they only get worse if they’re not dealt with right away.
  • Broken Water Pump – A broken water pump isn’t as much of an issue as a broken radiator, but it could still cause your car to overheat! A leak or a shifted pump shaft would prevent your water pump from delivering coolant where it’s needed.
Man By Broken Down Car Woman Distraught Over Car Overheating

What NOT to Do When Your Car Overheats

  • Don’t panic. Your car doesn’t have a cool head right now, so you need to. Just pull over to a safe spot to park.
  • Remember, driving your car when it’s overheating can lead to long-term damage. You may not want to call a towing service, but it’s best to play it safe.
  • Don’t open your hood immediately! Your car is overheating, which means it’s hotter than usual and may actually injure you.
  • Never attempt to remove the radiator cap. You may have lifted the hood open just fine, but the radiator can stay warm or hot longer and could cause serious burns.
  • If you let your vehicle cool down instead of having it towed, you shouldn’t be driving it far — and you definitely need to have it serviced ASAP. Don’t just drive it and hope it gets better.
  • Don’t try to fix it yourself, unless you’re a mechanic. This is a problem to be fixed by a professional.

What to Do When a Car Overheats

Now that you know what not to do, you may have questions regarding what do do if your car overheats. If your car is experiencing one of these issues, you might not realize it until you’re on the roads near Edwardsville! This is one of the reasons that it’s important to pay attention to fluids that you find leaking out from under your vehicle. If you’re losing coolant, you can deal with the issue before getting stranded on the side of the road. Learn what to do when a car overheats below.

If you don’t notice the problem until you’re on the move, there are several things you should do right away:

  1. If you’re running the air conditioning, stop immediately and set the heat to full blast. It may not be comfortable, but it will help remove heat from your engine block.
  2. Pull over to the side of the road and turn off your car as soon as possible. Although you may be tempted to pop the hood, you should wait at least 30 minutes to avoid burns.
  3. From this point, you’ll want to call VW Roadside Assistance, or an independent towing service, in order to get you to the nearest service center.

Count on the Auffenberg Volkswagen Service Department for Support!

When you bring your vehicle to our O'Fallon VW service center, we’ll answer all your questions and figure out why your car is overheating. The trained experts at our service center should be able to get you back on the road in no time. We can also help you maximize the lifespan of your vehicle components, fix your VW EPC light, or show you how long tires should last on the roads near you.

Schedule service today, or check out our parts coupons or service specials to see if there’s a way to save.

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