The last thing most people expect when they get behind the wheel is their car engine overheating. But, it’s important to know what steps to take when a car overheats so you can handle the situation effectively and keep safety a priority. Here’s what to do if you find yourself with a vehicle that’s overheating.

Cars today have advanced cooling systems with multiple heat sensors and computer-controlled electric fans designed to keep your engine running in any weather. But overheating can still happen. There are many reasons why your car could be overheating. Components like rubber hoses, gaskets, and water pumps can spring a leak with regular wear and tear. Also, certain driving conditions, like stop-and-go traffic on a hot day, can put significant stress on the cooling system, causing it to fail.

Here are the 5 steps you should take if your car overheats:

1. Put the Heater On

It sounds absolutely to the contrary, but draws warmth away from the engine to the passenger compartment, putting less burden on the cooling system. In certain circumstances, there are chances that it might be enough to reverse the overheating. You’ll know if it’s working or not when the warning light goes off or the temperature gauge returns to the neutral position.

2. Pull-Over

The first thing to do if your car continues to overheat after you’ve been driving for a few minutes with the heater on, pull over and turn off the engine—it’s the safest and assured way to cool the engine. If you have roadside assistance, make sure you use it, there are chances you may need a tow.

3. Don’t Panic

Here’s a thing, your engine won’t keep it’s cool but you can; so be patient. Usually, it takes at least 15 minutes for the engine to cool. Until then, do not even attempt to open the hood; the coolant in a car that has overheated. Once the hood is open, there’s a risk of being sprayed with hot water or steam. Waiting for at least 15-20 minutes allows the hood, engine and leaking coolant to cool.

4. First Check and Add Coolant

If your coolant level is low, a quick top-off could help protect your engine and prevent overheating until you can get things fixed. Cover the cap with a towel and slowly push down and loosen it a quarter of a turn, to release the pressure that has built up as a result of the coolant expanding when heated. However, this step won’t do much good if a coolant hose is clogged or it can be a broken radiator fan or water pump.

5. Drive to the Repair Station

After following all the steps carefully now’s the time to drive safely to the nearest repair station. It’s always wise to let a professional inspect your car’s cooling system. On your way to the repair station, keep an eye on the temperature gauge. And take notice of everything, like fluid under the car or steam under the hood. If it rises again you need to pull over and let the system cool.

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