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Q: Car is overheating

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There has been a noise coming from under my hood, like something flapping. Today my car started to overheat. The coolant got up to 275 degrees. I would pull over and let it cool down for 15 minutes, then drive a mile or so and it happened again, over and over again. There was also a slight burning smell coming from the vents and the vents only blew cold air. If I wasn't able to pull over right away a light came on that said, "Check Charging System" and white smoke would come from the engine area.

My car has 98000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

The flapping noise may have been the serpentine belt breaking. Once the belt broke completely both the water pump and alternator stopped turning, thus accounting for both the overheating the charging light coming on. In all probability you just need a new serpentine belt. You can obtain a new serpentine belt by requesting serpentine belt replacement. Of course, until you obtain a new belt, be sure not to drive the car because with no serpentine belt driving the water pump, the car will overheat for sure and that can easily warp the cylinder head and/or engine block causing costly damage. The reason that cool air came from the vents (presumably you had the heat on) is because the water pump was not functioning and thus no heated coolant was circulating through the heater core in the cabin. The white smoke under the hood was probably steam from escaping boiling coolant. Please note that the engine cooling thermostat can be damaged during an episode of overheating. You should consider replacing the thermostat to avoid further problems. If you request serpentine belt replacement a certified Mechanic, dispatched by YourMechanic right to your location, will get the belt issue resolved for you promptly. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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