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Q: Battery light on, temperature gauge maxed out, A/C system not working correctly

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My car has been making a lot of noise after a 2 hour trip from a few weeks ago, but today my car displayed the battery light and the temperature gauge was maxed out . Also when I put my car in park smoke/steam was coming from under the hood, I was too afraid to look to see what was going on. The A/C and Heat are not functioning correctly also the steering was extremely stiff. Please help me!

My car has 70000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi, thanks for writing in.

What you are describing happened to me personally a few weeks ago. It sounds like one (or both) of the accessory drive belt(s) that turn your alternator, water pump, and power steering pump is broken. The fact that all the symptoms occurred simultaneously explains this perfectly.

Unfortunately this was caused be the overheating. If you lose the belt, then your water pump, alternator, and power steering pump will all not spin. This is why the battery light, overheating condition, and stiff steering all happened at the same time. Any time you see your temperature gauge rise, immediately turn your heater on high with the fan speed on high and if the temperature does not drop, and immediately pull the vehicle over. Otherwise, the water in the engine gets hotter and hotter until it begins to boil, explaining the steam. This is dangerous because the oil temperatures rise as well and you can do a lot of damage to the engine.

I suggest verifying that your accessory drive belts are still there. Once that is fixed, all the symptoms you described should be fixed. You will need to refill the radiator because that steam was water so your levels will be low. Hopefully the overheating didn’t warp the engine head.

If you continue having issues with the vehicle, it may need to be serviced for a head gasket. But hopefully, all you need is a new belt and a little coolant and you’ll be good to go!

If you would like help getting your Civic looked at, consider having an expert automotive technician from YourMechanic come to your home or office to inspect and diagnose the issues for you, and make or suggest any repairs as needed.

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