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Q: Car overheats while idling

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My car has gone 180,000 miles. Lately, it has been overheating. The problem occurs when the car is idling, like at the traffic light or in park. Then, in just a couple of minutes, the temperature would be in the red zone. Even though the fans are working, the temperature cannot be decreased to a normal level. Also, while in the hot zone, I've noticed that the heater quits working. I checked the coolant level and it seems fine. Several years ago, the cooling system was flushed. Everything works normally when the car is in motion. Also, it might be relevant to mention that the overflow tank seems to have rust particles in it. How can I prevent the vehicle from overheating?

It sounds like you may have a problem with rust an scale build up in the engine. This build up may have worn the impeller on the water pump and this is why it only overheats at low engine RPMs. I would suggest doing a complete power flush of the cooling system. Check the radiator for blockage and then replace the radiator, water pump, thermostat as needed. Before any work is done, have the system pressure tested for any coolant leaks at the corner of the heads and intake manifold and replace the head gaskets and intake gaskets if leaks are found. If you want to have the fault verified, a certified technician from YourMechanic can come to your car’s location to diagnose the overheating issue and let you know what needs repair.

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