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Your engine produces an immense amount of heat during operation – that’s why you have a radiator filled with coolant. The coolant circulates through the engine and absorbs heat, then recirculates it into the radiator where it cools, and begins the cycle once more. In a properly operating system, overheating isn’t an issue, but if your car is quickly overheating, there’s something wrong.
Your coolant system is actually pretty simple to understand. There’s the radiator and coolant reservoir, where the bulk of the coolant is held. There are also upper and lower radiator hoses, which are responsible for sending the coolant through the engine and then allowing it to return to the radiator to be cooled off.
You have a thermostat, which keeps the coolant locked in a certain portion of the engine until normal operating temperature is reached, and there are radiator fans that blow air across the radiator to wick away heat. Of course, there’s also the water pump. It’s located behind the timing belt cover, and pumps coolant through the entire engine.
Coolant cycles through the engine, accumulating heat as it goes. This reduces the operating temperature of the engine, but increases the amount of heat in the coolant. It then recirculates back to the radiator where air flows over the radiator fins and removes the heat. Then the coolant begins the journey once more.
Low Coolant: Perhaps the most common reason for your car to overheat quickly is low coolant in the engine. If there isn’t enough coolant, the engine’s temperature cannot be regulated correctly. Coolant can be lost for a number of reasons, ranging from boiling over (serious overheating) to leaks from aging hoses, gaskets and more.
Failed Thermostat: Another very common reason for your car to overheat quickly is if the thermostat fails. The thermostat opens and closes based on engine operating temperature, allowing coolant to flow throughout the engine, or restricting it. If it sticks closed, your engine will overheat very quickly. Your car’s heater will also blow cold air.
Failed Water Pump: While rare, water pumps do eventually fail. They’re usually replaced with the timing belt, so if you haven’t had this service yet, it might be the culprit. If the water pump fails, coolant will not circulate through the engine at all and it will overheat very quickly.
Failed Radiator Fan Motor: If the motor on your radiator fan fails, it will cause your engine to heat quickly. Overheating isn’t always a problem here, particularly if the weather isn’t that warm, but it is a possibility.
Failed Radiator Fan Relay: If the radiator fan relay fails, the fan will not cycle on and off, which eliminates some of the airflow over the radiator. This is particularly problematic during stop and go driving (highway driving generally provides enough airflow to cool the radiator without the need for the fan).
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to inspect your car’s coolant system, including the radiator, the temperature gauge and other components. The mechanic will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
The mechanic will inspect your coolant level, the condition of your radiator, radiator hoses, reservoir and more. The mechanic may need to crank the engine and let it idle, or test drive the vehicle in order to duplicate the rapid heating problem.
If your car overheats quickly, the problem is serious. Too much heat can destroy an engine. It can cause head gaskets to leak, and it can even crack the block in extreme situations. Coolant system maintenance is an essential consideration – it allows you to monitor most of the system and spot problems before they become serious issues. One of our professional mechanics can inspect your car and provide the necessary repair.