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How to Keep Your Car From Overheating (and What to Do if it Happens)

Prevention: How to keep your car from overheating.

Want to keep your car from a feverish visit to Autobahn? Check your coolant level at least twice a year to make sure it doesn’t overheat.

Coolant — also known as antifreeze — keeps that hardworking engine nice and cool. When you pop the hood, the coolant cap will be clearly marked. Just take a peek and if you’re too low, fill it up to the line marked inside the tank.

There are also a few rules when you’re adding more coolant:

  • NEVER check it when your engine is hot or the car is running. Rule of thumb: check the coolant only when the car is cool.
  • Make sure you’re adding the same type of coolant that’s already in the tank.
  • Is your coolant a concentrate? If so, you’ll need to add water before you give your car a drink. Be sure to read the label’s directions before you pour.
  • Your coolant should be completely replaced once every two or three years. You may need a pro for that part.

Damage control: What to do if your car overheats.

An overheated engine is a common problem, but driving with it for too long can completely wreck your engine. If you notice the temperature gauge rising, take it seriously. And of course, give us a call at Autobahn and we’ll get you back on the road quickly.

1.  Make sure you’re packed.

Always carry a spare bottle of antifreeze (and also a jug of water) in your car. Often, engines overheat simply because the coolant level is low. So give the car a drink of antifreeze, then grab the water jug and take a big ol’ swig of your own. You’ve earned it.

2. Watch the temperature gauge.

If it creeps into the red, you’ve entered the danger zone. Singing Kenny Loggins is optional at this point. Turning off the air conditioning, however, is mandatory. If you need to cool off, roll down the windows for the au naturale experience.

3. Step 2 didn’t work? Crank the heat.

If it happens to be summer, this step is about as fun as a gut punch. The next few miles will be uncomfortable, but moving a little heat away from the engine might just save it.

4. Step 3 didn’t work? Time to panic.

Just kidding. Keep calm, pull over (when it’s safe) and turn the car off. You’ll have to pop the hood to take a look at the coolant level, but give your engine time to cool first. It’ll probably need about a half hour to do so. Now is also the time to call for a tow if you can’t fix the problem yourself.

When you pop the coolant cap, do it while gripping a washcloth. If the tank is completely empty, you might have a leak. Check under the car for drippage. And if the tank is full, it might be a mechanical problem.

Either way, hitch a tow to Autobahn and you’ll be surprised by just how fast we diagnose, doctor and dismiss that pride and joy of yours.