The summer is here and many of us will be hitting the road to drive to our vacation destinations. Although it happens less often with a newer car that has an owner who is careful about car maintenance, the combination of stop and go holiday traffic, big traffic jams, long journeys and high temperatures can often result in a car overheating, something that could you leave stranded on the side of the motorway rather than checking into your lovely hotel.
Apart from following a regular car maintenance schedule what should you do to try and make sure that you stay safe when your temperature indicator heads into the danger zone or smoke begins to bellow from beneath the hood? Here are a few tips:
Cooling Things Down Fast
If your car starts to overheat and you have the air conditioning on, turn it off immediately. The air conditioner puts an extra load on your car that very often is the cause of over heating, especially if you do not make a habit of going to an auto car parts store and stocking up on (and then using) the right coolants for your engine.
If turning off the AC does not help turn on the heaters, with the blowers on full. Yes its a horrible thought and yes it will make life very miserable for the people in the car but what it will also do is transfer a lot of that heat from the engine to the cars interior. This is a trick that many people are unaware of, but it usually works quite well and is a good temporary fix. And a few minutes inconvenience is far better than being stuck at the side of a road for hours.
Staying Cool in Traffic
If you are stuck in a traffic jam and your engine begins to overheat putting the car into neutral and then revving the engine can help. Doing that will force the water pump and the fan to speed up which can also help cool the engine off quickly.
Don’t ride you brakes in a traffic jam. If traffic ahead of you has slowed to little more than a crawl – something that is fairly common on busy holiday weekend – don’t ride your brakes as you move along, that will make overheating more likely to occur. Instead stay where you are until the space between you and the car in front of you gets too large.
If you think the car really is ready to boil over at any second, pull off the road onto the hard shoulder as soon as you can and open the hood to let the engine get some fresh air and begin to cool down. Do not at this point ever open the radiator cap to try and add water just yet though, doing so can result in damage to your engine and severe burns to you. Let the air do its work for a while before you even attempt such things.
Preventing the Problem
The occasional meltdown is possible in any car, even a very well maintained one if the weather is very hot and the traffic is very heavy. If, however, your car overheats on a regular basis, even when it is not so hot outside, then there may be a more serious underlying problem that has to be dealt with. There may be a leak in the coolant system or your thermostat may be malfunctioning. Both of these items can be fixed with a quick car inspection and a visit to a car parts retailer and doing so before you head of on holiday can save you a lot of heartache!