Q: Car Overheating; Unknown cause

asked by on March 15, 2017

For the past week or so, my car has been overheating with no visible leaks, no smoke/steam, oil looks clean, everything seems okay. It will overheat, I'll pull over ASAP, turn it off, let it sit for a while, then its back to normal. Could this be caused by a bad water pump? Any specific indicators I should keep an eye out for?

My car has 208053 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Car is overheating Inspection $79.99 - $99.99 Get a Quote

The coolant could be low, the thermostat could be plugged up or sticking, the radiator could be plugged up restricting the coolant flow, the water pump could have failed, or the head gasket could have burned causing the engine to overheat. Check the coolant to see if its full. If the coolant is full, then feel the upper and lower radiator hoses and see if they are about the same temperature. If they are, then the radiator and water pump is working. If they are not, then either the water pump has failed or the radiator is plugged. If the engine overheats when at a stop, then it would be a radiator. If the engine overheats at any speed, then it would be a water pump. Now, if the hoses are the same temperature, then the thermostat may be sticking or plugged up. To test this, turn on the heater and see if it blows hot or cold. If its blows cold, then the thermostat is sticking closed or plugged up completely. If there is no signs of a failed thermostat, then the head gasket has burned. Usually you will get a white smoke or a sweet smell at the exhaust system if the head gasket is burned up. If the engine coolant temperature gauge says that the engine is overheating, but the actual temperature is normal, then the temperature gauge or the sending unit is not working properly. If you need further assistance with your vehicle overheating, then seek out a professional, such as one from Your Mechanic, to help you.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing


Experienced Mechanic?

Earn up to $65/hr

What others are asking

Shaking engine - 2007 Dodge Caliber

Motor mounts are a possibility, and should be tested but engine vibration can also be caused by uneven cylinder compression (i.e., too much variance from cylinder to cylinder) and a variety of ignition and fuel system faults. Engine ignition and...

Parking brake light on. after changing rear pads, calipers, rotors. Bled brakes.

Hello. There may very well be an air pocket left in your line that needs to be bled out. One efficient way to tell if there's air in your system is pressing the brake pedal with the engine running, the...

Rumbling when coasting - 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Hello. A wheel bearing going bad will definitely cause a rumbling or droning sound as you describe. This will generally get worse as you accelerate as more force is exerted on the bearing and it is caused to turn faster....

Interior lights wont turn off button is broke

It sounds like your interior lights would not turn off, then in trying to turn them off with the dome light switch, you broke the dome light switch. If that's the case, then besides the broken dome light switch, you...

Rattling sound while accelerating - 2007 Nissan Maxima

Hello. Most of the time, when you get this noise with this car accompanied with a loss of power, it is because the catalytic converter is failing, or the timing chain may be ready to fail. Both of these will...

Honda Pilot engine misfire when cold out and engine running warmer than usual?

Hi There, It sounds like you may have a faulty coolant temperature sensor. This sensor relays the temperature of the coolant back to the ECM which uses this information to control many things such as when to turn the coolant...

My car runs hot immediately after starting, I just noticed it yesterday.

A small coolant leak will in time become a bigger issue. It is not good for the engine to be overheated because it can damage the engine internally. Water is okay to use for a temporary fix. Any condition with...

Water pump is leaking, do I need to replace the timing belt, too? The car also has a misfire on cylinder 3.

Hi there. If the engine has too many miles on a timing belt, then a timing belt is suggested for replacement. The misfire for cylinder 3 could be caused by a spark plug failure, fuel injector failure, or a problem...

My Check Engine Light is on - code P0430

Hi there. If you are getting this code along with a loss of power, it usually means that the catalytic converter is failing. When it fails internally it begins to clog the exhaust which will cause the lack of power....

Related articles

Symptoms of Bad or Failing Intake Manifold Gaskets
Common signs include the engine constantly overheating, coolant leaking, engine misfires, and a decrease in power, acceleration, and fuel economy.
How Long Does an AC Compressor Last?
As long as your car is running the way it should, you probably don’t even think about all the parts that are working...
How a Car's Heating System Works
The The sun sets, and the air has a chill. You pause to flip your jacket collar up, and you walk briskly to your car door and slide into the driver's seat. Once you start your car, it’s only moments...