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Why Your Engine is Too Hot Under the Hood

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Everything was going fine, until it wasn’t. All of sudden your car is having a major freak-out—there’s alerts and lights going off on your dash, and is that smoke? Yes, yes it is. Your car’s engine is overheating, and you need to pull over somewhere safe like immediately.

An overheating engine is not only terrifying, if not dealt with in a timely manner it could also mean expensive and irreparable damage to your car. So, exactly what, how, and why did your car get too agitated under the hood and turn into a smoking hot mess?


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According to YourMechanic.com writer Jason Unrau, “An engine operates efficiently at a certain temperature. Overheating is when the temperature of the engine climbs to a point where mechanical damage can occur.” And, that excessive temperature is reached when your car’s cooling system has failed.

A car’s cooling system—like everything about a vehicle—is complex and comprised of many parts working (or not working—hence overheating) together. According to Unrau, the parts responsible for keeping your car’s engine at a level temperature include the water pump, thermostat, a heater core, coolant hoses, a radiator, and the engine.

Even though an overheating engine can be the result of several malfunctions, according to Unrau the malfunctions “almost all stem from a lack of circulation.”

A leak in the cooling system or a blockage in the cooling system are considered indirect causes of overheating, according to Unrau, whereas a broken water pump or when coolant gets gunked up enough to cause a blockage (typically occurs when temps get to freezing degrees) are considered direct causes.


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“A lesser known system that assists in cooling the engine is the engine oil itself. It plays a large part in engine cooling and also in preventing excessive temperatures from building up. The engine lubricates internal engine parts to prevent friction, which is the main cause of heat inside an engine,” reports Unrau.

Overheating is serious; if your car does it even once, it’s a smoking sign that your engine needs professional attention and repair, according to Unrau. So, once your engine cools off, get it checked out by a trusted auto mechanic as soon as possible.

News Source: YourMechanic