We’ve all experienced that laptop or cell phone that stopped functioning properly due to overheating, and while it caused inconveniences, it was nowhere near as troublesome as a car overheating. Here are the basics of what you should know about that steam pouring out of the hood of your car.
Your car might be overheating for any number of reasons. The most likely cause is low coolant, since coolant is responsible for flowing through the engine and cooling everything down, especially during highway driving. If not the coolant, it could be that your vehicle’s fan isn’t working correctly. This is particularly likely if you drive an older car and your fan belt is broken. Other possibilities include that your radiator is clogged or your coolant is leaking.
How to React
Even if you don’t know the direct cause of your car’s sudden show of steam, you need to know how to handle it. First, shut down the air conditioner, open all the windows, and see if that takes enough pressure off of your engine to prevent your car from shutting down. You should also pull over as soon as it’s safe and find a service center or gas station. Just be sure not to open the hood until all steam has disappeared. You could even consider carrying some coolant in the car with you, or water can be used as a substitute in a pinch. If you can’t fix the problem on your own, it’s time to call a tow truck.
Remember that an overheated car is more than just an inconvenience; it’s a major safety hazard that can instigate a fire. Never open the hood while steam is still visible. Instead, get out of your vehicle and wait at a safe distance until you can open the hood. Once you do open the hood, don’t try to open the radiator cap while the radiator is still hot, as that release of pressure could easily cause liquid burns and steam damage. Similarly, don’t add water to the radiator when it;s still hot since it could actually crack the engine block and create a major, expensive issue.