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How To: Deal with an overheating engine

Seeing your car’s temperature gauge rise towards the red zone is frightening. Here’s how to safely deal with the problem.

1. Pull over

If you see smoke or steam billowing from your bonnet, or your temperature gauge reading is abnormal, pull over to the side of the road as soon as it’s safe. Once you’ve pulled over, open the bonnet carefully and wait until the car cools down.

2. Don’t get up in your car’s grill

It might be tempting to inspect the engine, but after you’ve opened the bonnet, take a step back. A climbing temperature gauge often means boiling coolant; never open the radiator cap while the engine is hot or the cooling system is under pressure – coolant could spray and burn you.

3. Get your car to a mechanic

Don’t continue driving an overheating car as you’ll likely cause more damage. If you’re broken down on the side of the road, call AANT on 13 11 11. They’ll take a look at your car to see what’s causing the problem, and if it needs to be towed to a mechanic for further analysis.

4. Find out what’s causing the problem

There could be a range of reasons your engine is overheating. A mechanic should be able to run tests and diagnose the problem. A leak in the cooling system is the number one reason for an overheating engine, followed by worn out or burst hoses, a poorly performing radiator and loose or broken belts.

5. Have your car repaired AANT Approved Repairers

Once your mechanic has determined the problem, they’ll repair your car. Overheating can result in a blown head gasket and severe damage to your cooling system. So while they’re repairing it, ensure both are thoroughly checked. The radiator, engine and heater core must be flushed, and hoses, hose clamps, cooling fans, drive belts and the water pump should be inspected.

AANT Approved Repairers

If you are looking for a mechanic, specialist mechanic, crash repairer or a vehicle inspection check.  We strongly recommend the services of AANT Approved Repairers.  

AANT’s free Technical Advisory Service has heaps of handy car hints. Give them a call on 1300 661 466.

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