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Car Running Hot but Not Overheating

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Why is the car running hot but not overheating? If the temperature warning lights on the dashboard go up in a car it means that the coolant temp is high and so is the engine. Engine temperature goes high especially when the weather is hot.

Car troubleshooting

The usual cause of the gauge that reads high is the lack of engine coolant. So the first to check is if there is enough coolant.

Now, open the hood of your car and remove the radiator cap. Make sure that the engine is cold when removing the radiator cap to avoid getting burnt when the steam pops out of the radiator. After removing the radiator cap, look down into the radiator fill hole to check the coolant level. The coolant should be enough to cover the radiator fins to tell that the radiator has enough coolant if not then the coolant is low. Another way of checking the coolant level is by looking at the coolant recovery tank. Check your vehicle owner’s manual on how to check the coolant level on the recovery tank.

The car running hot but not overheating is a result of the following

(1) Lack of coolant.
(2) Clogged radiator.

1. Lack of Coolant

The engine must have the right amount of coolant to cool it so that the engine works more efficiently. If the coolant level is low it is not sufficient to cool the engine and it causes the temperature gauge to go up.

If your vehicle is experiencing a lack of coolant, it's essential to address the issue promptly to prevent potential damage to the engine. Coolant, also known as antifreeze, plays a crucial role in maintaining a proper operating temperature for the engine and preventing it from overheating. Here are some steps you can take if you suspect a lack of coolant:

a. Check the Coolant Level. Open the hood of your vehicle and locate the coolant reservoir. It is usually a translucent plastic tank with minimum and maximum level markings. Ensure that the engine is cool before opening the reservoir cap. If the coolant level is below the minimum mark, you indeed have a lack of coolant.

Coolant Expansion Tank

b. Top Up Coolant. If the coolant level is low, add a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water to the reservoir until it reaches the maximum mark. It's essential to use the coolant recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer.

Make a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze. Pour enough amount of the fluid mixture into the radiator. Remember that the coolant level must cover the fins inside the radiator. Also, check the radiator for any leaks because why is the coolant level inside the radiator gets low. Crawl beneath your car and look for any puddle of coolant, if there is none then it might be an internal leak that causes coolant to become low. Bring the car to the repair shop and have it checked to make sure.

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c. Inspect for Leaks. A sudden loss of coolant usually indicates a leak in the cooling system. After topping up the coolant, closely inspect the engine bay, radiator, hoses, and water pump for any visible signs of leakage. Puddles or stains on the ground under your vehicle might also indicate a coolant leak.

d. Address the Leak. If you find a coolant leak, it's essential to have it fixed as soon as possible. Leaks can be caused by various factors, such as a damaged hose, a faulty radiator, a worn-out water pump, or a cracked coolant reservoir. Take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic or a dealership to diagnose and repair the issue.

e. Check for Overheating. After topping up the coolant and addressing any leaks, monitor the engine temperature gauge while driving. If it continues to rise abnormally, it could indicate an ongoing problem, and you should avoid driving the vehicle until the issue is resolved.

f. Perform Regular Maintenance. To prevent coolant-related problems in the future, make sure to follow your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule. Regularly check the coolant level and have the cooling system inspected during routine service intervals.

Remember, driving with insufficient coolant can lead to severe engine damage due to overheating. If you're unsure about handling the coolant level or diagnosing leaks, it's best to seek assistance from a professional mechanic.

2. Clogged Radiator

If the radiator is clogged it can cause the engine temperature gauge to reads high because the coolant is not cold by the air that hits the radiator fin, especially when driving fast. The radiator is the one that cools the coolant, if the radiator is clogged then it will not work well to cool the coolant.

Car Radiator

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The first is to clean the radiator for any debris located on the face of the radiator, clean the debris with hot water, and a soft brush then backflushed the entire cooling system. Backflushing is done by running water through the cooling system in the opposite direction of normal coolant flow. This procedure will remove rush and particle build-up inside the cooling system and restore the efficiency of the system.

If you suspect a clogged radiator, it's crucial to address the issue promptly to prevent engine overheating and potential damage. A clogged radiator can restrict coolant flow, leading to poor heat dissipation and reduced cooling efficiency. Here's what you can do if you suspect a clogged radiator:

a. Check for Signs of Overheating. Keep an eye on your vehicle's temperature gauge while driving. If you notice the temperature rising above the normal range or the engine overheating warning light comes on, it could indicate a problem with the radiator.

b. Inspect for Visible Blockages. Allow the engine to cool down completely before opening the hood. Visually inspect the radiator from the front of the vehicle. Look for any visible signs of debris, leaves, or other obstructions that might be blocking the airflow through the radiator.

c. Clean the Radiator. If you find any visible blockages, carefully clean the radiator using a soft brush or compressed air. Be gentle to avoid damaging the delicate cooling fins. Also, check for any obstructions between the radiator and the condenser (if your vehicle has one) as this can also impact cooling performance.

d. Check Coolant Level and Quality. Ensure that the coolant level is adequate and topped up as needed. Additionally, inspect the coolant for any signs of contamination, such as oil or debris, which could indicate a more serious issue.

e. Flush the Cooling System. If the radiator appears to be clogged or if you suspect a more severe blockage, it might be necessary to flush the entire cooling system. Flushing helps remove any accumulated sediment or debris that may be hindering the coolant flow.

f. Consider Professional Inspection. If you are uncertain about diagnosing or resolving the clogged radiator issue, or if you suspect more severe engine problems, it's best to take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic or a dealership. They can perform a thorough inspection, identify the root cause, and provide appropriate solutions.

Preventing a clogged radiator is crucial for maintaining your vehicle's cooling system's efficiency. Regularly check the cooling system during routine maintenance and avoid driving in conditions that may lead to the accumulation of debris in the radiator, such as dusty or muddy environments.

Car Overheating Full of Coolant
Overheating full of coolant cars have problems with the cooling system, it is possible that the radiator is clogged or the radiator is plugged. Read more… Car Overheating Full of Coolant

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