Keep a cool head (engine head that is)
Keeping your car’s engine cool is essential to having a car (and keeping it running). Every car is equipped with several gauges and lights that alert you when problems are cropping up with your engine. Perhaps the most important of them all is the temperature gauge, that quiet little gauge that never seems to change. It is so steady that it becomes tempting to ignore it, but you do that at your peril. The small changes in the temperature readout can indicate changes inside your engine that can cause serious trouble later.
Your engine is designed to work best within a certain temperature range and the cooling system automatically flushes coolant throughout the engine to maintain that temperature. It doesn’t matter whether it is a hot summer day or an icy January morning, a properly function cooling system regulates the temperature to stay within the standard temperature range.
What Can Go Wrong When your Car is Overheating
Several things can go wrong, and when they do it requires immediate action. An overheating engine can get so hot that the engine will seize up with irreparable damage. Even if it doesn’t reach that extreme, the rings that wrap the pistons can lose resilience and the engine will lose efficiency and may start burning oil. Engines that get too hot are just plain bad news.
Often the cause can be fairly minor, like a leaking hose or a thermostat that gets stuck. In other cases, there may be an internal problem with gaskets that leak coolant into the engine cylinders where it is burned. Without a quick repair, this can cause the loss of the catalytic converter and do permanent damage to the rest of the engine. These repairs can cost several thousand dollars. Every overheating car we see is carefully tested as we look for this invisible issue since the potential harm to the engine is so great.
How to Prevent Engine Damage
In order to prevent this kind of catastrophic engine damage, you should become familiar with where your temperature gauge normally sits. Once the engine is warmed up, it will move up and down slightly as the car moves, but not too dramatically. Once you know what this range is, glance at the gauge once in a while and if it isn’t behaving normally, give us a call. Abnormal fluctuation can indicate contamination or coolant loss and should be checked at the first opportunity. If the temperature indicator is in the red, stop as soon as you can (safely) and turn off the engine. When it comes to an overheating engine, seconds count and can save you a lot of trouble! We highly recommend that you do not drive your car again until the issue has been repaired. You should have it towed in to avoid any further damage.
Even though it seems like a hassle to keep an eye on the temperature gauge, remember, it is much better to look at your temperature gauge than it is to look at a repair bill. Be safe this season and avoid the big repairs!
-The High Road Gang