If your car overheats while you are driving down the freeway, then it is important for you to know what the next step should be. Do you need to call a tow truck? Can you wait for your car to cool and add water to the radiator? The answers to these questions depend on the root cause of the overheating problem.
Before you reach for your cell phone and call a tow truck when your car overheats, first do a bit of detective work to determine if it is absolutely necessary.
Look Under the Hood While the Car is Still Hot
While your car is still hot, open its hood and look for the location of the steam release. Start by looking at the radiator itself. If the steam is not coming out of the radiator, then check the hoses that go from either side of the radiator to the motor. Also, check the water pump to see if water is leaking from it.
Repair Radiator Hose Problems
While you can't fix a water pump or failed radiator problem on the side of the highway, you can fix a radiator hose if its clamp has come loose. Wait for the engine compartment to cool down, and then put the radiator hose clamp back in place and tighten it down with a screwdriver. If the radiator's hose has split, then it will need to be replaced with a new section of hose from a local auto parts store.
Refill the Radiator When it Has Cooled Off
If your car overheated on a very hot day or while running its air conditioner while climbing up a steep grade, then you may be able to fix the problem by simply refilling your car's radiator.
You should never open a hot radiator cap because extremely hot steam will be released and it will burn you. Instead, wait until your car has completely cooled down and then add antifreeze or water to the radiator.
If your car will drive again without overheating after adding radiator fluid, then all is well. To prevent this problem in the future, turn off your car's air conditioner when driving on excessively hot days or up steep grades that put your car's engine under a load.
Have Your Car Towed to a Local Mechanic for Mechanical Problems that Need Professional Repair
Finally, if your car is not having a problem with a radiator hose or simply overheated due to excessive load on the motor, then you should call a tow truck. The other common causes of overheating are radiator clogs, thermostat failures, and water pump failures and each requires a professional repair by a mechanic.
Contact a center like Collins Service Center to learn more.