Summer time. The time for hitting the road and heading to the beach with friends and family. Also the time for many people when their car’s temperature gauge rises well above the normal and steam pours out of the bonnet, aka their car’s engine has overheated.
Why is this? How can you prevent it? Let’s find out.
Why Does an Engine Overheat?
Car engines can overheat for various reasons but typically it is a result of a fault in the engine and that it might have been left without a proper service for too long. Most commonly an engine will overheat due to when your car is low or out of coolant. Coolant is the fluid that goes in the radiator to help transfer heat away from the engine itself. If you notice this on a rare occasion you needn’t be too worried, however, if this occurs regularly then this may be a sign that you have a leak or cracked radiator which allows the coolant to escape.
Keep in mind that coolant fluctuates from the cooling system to the reservoir depending on the engine’s temperature. So if you’re unsure of whether you are ‘actually’ low on coolant or not, have a trained mechanic take a look at it.
If your engine is overheating but the coolant isn’t low or empty, this could mean there’s a problem with your thermostat. Other reasons your engine is overheating could be related to issues with the radiator such as clogs or damaged caps. If you are certain of what the cause is, it’s best to have a qualified mechanic take a look at it to diagnose the problem.
How to Prevent Your Engine From Overheating
To best prevent an overheated engine from spoiling your day, make sure your car is getting serviced regularly by a trained mechanic. This means you can find and address the little problems before they become much more significant later down the track. Remember, it’s better to prevent a problem before it even happens.
Another measure of prevention, and a great habit to get yourself into, is to regularly check and ensure your engine has enough coolant. This is especially important when taking long trips. If you are unsure of where the coolant level should be, you can check the by referring to the coolant reservoir.
If you’re out of coolant, you can pick up a new bottle at any auto good auto store. Just remember to buy coolant that is the same colour as what’s currently in your engine – typically it will be either red or green. NEVER mix green and red coolant fluid together. If you need to top up the coolant and are unable to access the right colour coolant, you can use water. If the coolant in your engine is looking faded or rusty, this is a sign that you need a full coolant flush. This process should be completed by a qualified mechanic to ensure you don’t end up with air bubbles in your coolant which will result in the air becoming trapped in the coolant system restricting the coolant from cooling down the engine.
Servicing your car involves a whole lot more than just changing the oils. One thing that should always be inspected and maintained is your car’s drive belts. Not every car has the same type of belts but they all play an extremely vital part in keeping your car running.
Let us explain they are and why they’re so crucial.
The timing belt is a notched rubber belt that allows the crankshaft to turn the camshaft. A timing belt is sometimes called a Gilmer belt or a camshaft drive belt. The camshaft opens and closes the valves in synchronised movement with the engine’s pistons.
If your timing belt breaks, your engine will stop working and may cause major engine damage. That’s why it’s important to have your timing belt regularly inspected as per manufacturer guidelines. If the belt is loose or has slipped the valves could open at the wrong time and be struck by your engine’s pistons. Warning sounds include a slapping noise coming from your engine. This indicates a slipped belt.
Manufacturers recommend Timing belts should be replaced in line with Manufacturer Recommendations, check your Service book or speak with our Service Department for more information.
Serpentine belts, also known as drive belts, provide power to the air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, cooling fan, air injection pump, and more.
If your vehicle’s serpentine belt breaks, all of the engine parts it is powering will stop working and your engine could overheat and be damaged. Big Box Cars technicians look for cracks, wear, and stripping to determine if your serpentine belt is in danger of failing. Like the timing belt, we recommend having your serpentine belt inspected every time you have your vehicle serviced. Warning sounds include a screeching noise coming from your engine, especially during start-ups on cold mornings or on sharp turns.
So, it’s time for your next car service? You might be wondering what the difference is between a minor, major, and interim service is, why some service centres are more expensive than others, and what the mechanic actually does each service. We’ve compiled a very simple guide for you to understand everything you need to know about car services.
Minor, major & interim
In your service logbook, you will likely see that your manufacturer has included services in between the mandatory scheduled service slots. These are called interim services and they would usually be performed if the vehicle has been driven regularly under harsh conditions, for example, driving off-road, towing, or racing. In this service, the engine oil and engine oil filter would be replaced as well as anything else that the driver knows needs immediate attention and cannot wait until the next scheduled service.
A minor, basic or general service generally includes replacing the engine oil and engine oil filter. Aside from any other parts you and your mechanic discuss and agree upon replacing prior to the service, these should be the only parts used in this service. Minor services should also consist of a safety inspection under the body and under the bonnet. Other basic things will be checked such as the fluid levels, the brakes, tyres, and the lights.
A major service is determined by your car manufacturer based on time or a certain mileage. Once your car reaches this time or mileage it is due for a major service where something ‘major’ like perhaps a timing belt or differential and transfer case fluid is changed. These types of replacements are not as regular as other things like a fuel filter or a coolant change. This obviously requires more time to perform the service and extra tasks involved so it’s best to speak with your mechanic about what’s involved and get a rough estimate of the total price.
Ultimately it is best to follow your manufacturer’s scheduled services in the service logbook but also stay vigilant at monitoring your car for any warning signs that it needs an interim service.