An engine overheating can cause irreparable damage - preventing that from happening is crucial to keeping your car, truck, or SUV on the road. Here’s a rundown on the causes of engine overheating, from Evansville Auto Repair in Evansville, IN.
Thermostat - The thermostat is an inexpensive and simple part that plays a very important role. The thermostat is made up of different kinds of metals, which expand and allow the thermostat to open. Essentially, the thermostat is an automatic valve, which opens and closes depending on the temperature of the coolant. When the thermostat malfunctions or clogs, it won’t open or close correctly. When it’s stuck open, the engine won’t heat up to temp - when it’s stuck closed, coolant can’t circulate, and the engine begins to run hot. Bad thermostats may cause the gauge to suddenly drop or spike if it’s opening at the incorrect time. It may also stay closed, causing the temperature to rise until the engine eventually goes, at which point it will likely need to be replaced.
Water Pump - The water pump circulates coolant throughout the engine. If one is failing, the engine will run hotter than usual - if it fails completely, the coolant will stay stagnant and overheat the engine in short order. Often, when a water pump is bad, you’ll also notice a slight coolant leak from the pump itself. If your water pump is making noise or leaking, it must be replaced. If the engine is running hot, the water pump could still be at fault, even if there are no obvious symptoms of a bad pump. Radiator/Heater core The radiator and heater core are different components but work in the same way. The radiator cools the liquid flowing through your coolant system, and the heater core is a much smaller version of that; the fan blows hot air radiating from the heater core through your vents to heat the car. Either are susceptible to corrosion or clogging, since the passages inside are very small. If one becomes clogged, the engine will overheat, since coolant won’t be able to circulate correctly.
Coolant - The coolant itself could also be to blame. If the coolant hasn’t been flushed correctly in a while, rust and other debris may be flowing through it, causing buildup at the thermostat, radiator, and other components. Regularly flushing your coolant will avoid this situation. If your vehicle is overheating, don’t take a chance on it. Shut the engine off and get the vehicle to the shop, for inspection by a professional technician.
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