Q: My car overheated and then eventually died. Now it wont crank and I have coolant all over my engine

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My car started running hot on the freeway. I got off on the next exit and as I was finding a place to pull over, the car completely died. It wont crank anymore and I have an obvious coolant leak because there is red coolant all over my car and engine. Also the steering wheel is extremely hard to turn now. Idk what to do

My car has 138000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Based on your description the engine was overheating and the overheating was accompanied by a large coolant leak. Please note that coolant leaks can be either a cause or a CONSEQUENCE of overheating. Therefore, once the leak is repaired, your vehicle will still have to be tested to make sure that there are no other causes of overheating, other than perhaps just the leak you experienced. In all events, in addition to repairing the leak, and making sure that the CAUSE of the overheating is fully identified and resolved, you may have to replace your engine cooling thermostat as well because episodes of overheating can actually damage the thermostat. If the thermostat is damaged, and left in place, that can set the stage for future cooling system problems.


In your circumstance, you appear to have the additional problem that the car won’t start but that will be diagnosed and resolved after the mechanic restores the cooling system. You can’t run and test an engine, other than VERY momentarily, without an intact cooling system. Overheating can warp the cylinder head and/or engine block, which can cause a failure to start due to loss of compression, valve damage and so forth. The most common causes of overheating include low coolant level (including that due to sudden large leaks), a faulty thermostat, a plugged radiator, a faulty radiator pressure cap, collapsed hoses, non functioning cooling fans, and a faulty water pump or drive belt. Certain engine faults, such as a leaking head gasket or poor engine running condition can also cause overheating. To get all this resolved, just simply request an engine overheating diagnostic and the responding certified mechanic will repair the leak, check to be sure there are no unaddressed causes, and ultimately get the car running for you. 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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