Causes and remedies for overheating automobile engines

Updated Mar 06, 2021

Let’s learn more about the causes and remedies for an overheating engine whilst driving.

There are many reasons for overheating automobile engines. Long journey will cause the car engine to overload. Especially, traveling for too long, the car engine may generate too much heat and increase the risk of occurring damages to the car parts. Thus, car owner needs to equip themselves with suitable car care and maintenance knowledge in such cases.

I. Causes of overheated motor vehicles

Experienced automotive experts said that there are both subjective and objective causes for this phenomenon.

1. Wrong interventions to the engine

For internal gasoline-powered combustion engines, ignition timing and proportion of compressed air mixture will greatly affect the vehicle's capacity. Therefore, adjusting this ratio will significantly affect the operation of the engine. An incorrect ratio can totally lead to an overheated engine.

According to the manufacturer's design, the standard mixture ratio is 1/15, which means that burning 1 gram of gasoline requires 15 grams of air. If this ratio is changed to 1/11 or 1/18, it might result in a change in engine specifications. Therefore, the time of the fire and the rate of gas mixture must meet technical requirements of the manufacturer. With improper modification, overheated engine phenomenon may stem from switches nozzles, pressure regulators or sensors’ operation failures, or open gasoline connector causing improper amounts of injected gasoline, in terms of both volume and pressures.

For diesel-fueled cars, when the car is overheated, there will be black smoke due to inappropriate adjustment in the high-pressure pump on injection time and volume.

Black smoke from a diesel-fueled car

For diesel-fueled cars, when the car is overheated, there will be black smoke 

Engine Overheating? - 9 Steps to Solve

2. Due to the operation process

In the process of operation, the owner does not keep regular maintenance of the engine, it will cause aging, corrosion phenomenon which in turns lead to the phenomenon of machine heat.

Here are some causes and remedies for overheating automobile engines:

  • The wind blows cause the engine to overheat
  • A hot engine may be due to overloading, heavy cargo is the leading cause of engine overheat
  • Malfunction of vehicle cooling system

A car engine overheat

A hot engine may be due to overloading, heavy cargo is the leading cause of engine overheat

The mission of the cooling system is extremely important, with its rapid transfer of heat from the combustion gases to the cooling environment, which allows the engine belonging parts to operate in conditions that meet the prescribed standards by the manufacturer.

  • The cooler is clogged or dirty due to insufficient cleaning resulting in limited heat dissipation ability
  • Problems with fans

>>> Related: Car's overheating with full coolant: What's wrong?

II. How to handle the phenomenon of overheating engine while traveling

In the modern cars, the specification sheet behind the steering wheel will help the driver detect if the engine is overheated to take immediate action. When the car is overheated, a red thermometer will appear, with water-waves images below. At this moment, the driver must immediately stop the car as continuing driving will badly affect the relevant parts.

overheated-engine sign

This indicator shows that the engine is overheated

1. Pull over the car

If overheat occurs, you need to immediately pull over the car on the sidelines and turn on the emergency lights to let other vehicles know that your car is broken.

2. Inspect the engine

Before inspecting the engine compartment, the driver should open the bonnet and wait for about 5-10 minutes for the current heat to escape. When the engine cools down, check the water tank by opening it slowly, as opening immediately might cause burns to yourself when boiled water bubble shooting up.

Inadequate cooling will cause the engine to overheat

Check if cooling water is insufficient to continue performing. In the middle of the empty roads, it can be very difficult to get the water, thus you should always bring a water bottle with you to be ready in such cases. Using water is just a temporary solution. After returning home, you need to clean the water tank and use specialized cooling water to fill in that, to prevent damage to the cooling system.

Checking a car engine for overheating

Inadequate cooling will cause the engine to overheat

Also, you can check the radiator fan, if this unit is not working, it could be due to brush or fuse. However, there are dozens of fuses that are hard to find. At this point, you should pull the just a random one to replace it.

These are the causes and how to troubleshoot temporarily overheat engine that we have shared with you. In order to get through it, the owner needs to regularly maintain the car, avoid affecting the long-distance trip.

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