A Complete Guide To Know When and Why your Car Is Running Hot 2021


car is running hot

A Complete Guide To Know When and Why your Car Is Running Hot.

car is running hot

Hi friend, welcome to Automotorr.com, You are here because your car is running hot and you need to know why, when , how and what is making your car run hot. you are in the right place, in this article I will explain everything about a car’s temperature and why they run hot.

When a car is running hot, there is no need to panic once you notice. What you need to do is take actions that will prevent the overheating from getting worse. 

A car running hot is a sign that there is an underlying issue with the cooling system of the car that needs immediate repair. This Mostly Stems from a fault in the radiator, thermostat or water pump. If it is not repaired promptly, it will worsen and lead to greater damage to your engine components. 


What is the normal running temperature for a car?

The normal temperature for cars is between 195-225 degrees. Some vehicles can also run normally at a temperature around 190 degrees. But to be on the safe side, you should consider 195 degrees as the starting point of normal running temperature for a car.


At what temperature does a car overheat

Different cars can handle different levels of temperature before the engine gets overheated. A car starts overheating when its temperature is beyond 225 degrees. For some vehicles, it might be when it is beyond 200 degrees. For a more definite temperature, you can contact your dealership to inquire about the different temperature guides for different car types based on your type of vehicle. You can also do a quick search online.

Why your car is running hot

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when you see your car’s temperature gauge go crazy high, DO NOT PANIC!, There are common reasons why this happens and i have highlighted them below;

  1. Low coolant 

If your car has a low coolant, it will make the engine start to overheat. Check the reservoir markings, and if the coolant is below the normal level markings, you’ll have to fill it up to that level. 

  1. Leaking coolant 

If there is no coolant in the reservoir, this could be that it is leaking. You can ascertain this by checking the ground for puddles. Take it to the repair shop to get it fixed. 

  1. Low oil 

The job of the oil is to lubricate the components of the engine so they can function properly; however, when it is low, it will lead to clanking, and it will make your car start overheating. 

  1. Radiator issue 

Radiators and the fan fitted on them is what make the coolant circulate to keep the engine cool. If the fan is no longer functioning well, it will reduce the cooling power necessary to remove heat, thereby increasing temperature, which will make your car run hot. 

  1. Broken water pump 

The pump also functions with the radiator in the coolant circulation. If there is a lot of debris in the coolant, this will prevent it from passing through the pump, making the car run hot. 

  1. Worn belt and leaking hoses

If the coolant hoses get blocked or start leaking, they won’t flow coolant through the engine and other components. The same applies to a work belt. 


How to know when a car is running hot 

When your car is running hot or over heating, there are certain signs that indicates this. and below i will be highlighting the most common signs to look out for when your car is running hot;

1 Harsh Odor 

The odor coming out of your engine is distinctive, so you can easily pick up the smell. What causes this smell is the melting of the engine resin, the rubber seals of the engine, and even valves made of plastic. 

As you can see, these are materials with fumes you wouldn’t smell on a normal day. It’s a smell termed the “hot smell.” 

There are cases where the coolant is leaking and letting out a sweet smell with toxic fumes. The sweet and hot smells are different, but they’re distinctive, so they’re easy to pick up. 

To be on the safe side, anytime you perceive an unusual smell, that is a sign showing you your car is running hot, and don’t sit around inhaling it. Visit the auto repair shop immediately. 

2 Very hot hood 

There is a difference between a moderately hot hood and a very hot hood. A moderately hot hood is normal because when an engine is running, there will be an emission of heat so that the hood will be warm/moderately hot. 

However, if the hood is very hot, that is not a good sign. 

If you can touch the car hood for about 10 seconds without getting your hands burnt, then your car is moderately warm and working fine. If it’s extremely hot, you will burn yourself within just a second or two. 

3 Hot Steam From Grills

If your car is running hot, steam will start escaping from underneath the hood. This steam is very noticeable, and if you’re driving, stop your car immediately and turn off the engine or else you could damage it. 

Your car is steaming because the coolant is stuck in the reservoir due to its inability to circulate through the engine. This causes the coolant to boil to a point where it is now converting to steam and adding pressure to the engine cooling system. 

Another cause of this is that the radiator cap is not fitted tightly or it has started failing. 

When this steam starts escaping from underneath the hood, you’ll notice it coming from the sides and the front. 

  1. Leaking coolant 

To notice this issue, you’ll have to be someone who does a frequent inspection of their vehicle. Looking at the ground, you’ll notice liquid coming from underneath your car. What is leaking might be from your coolant system. 

This happens because the coolant got boiled when your engine was overheating, which resulted in high pressure causing the excess liquid to be released. This shows that the amount of coolant flowing through the engine is not enough, and if it continues leaking for a long time, it will make the engine components get worn out then damage them. 

  1. High-temperature gauge

All cars are designed with a temperature gauge that lets you know the temperature of your engine. If your engine temperature is normal, the gauge’s needle should be sitting in the middle or near it. However, if the needle is far from the middle and into or near the red zone, it tells you that your car is overheating. If your car has a warning light beside the temperature gauge, it will flash as a signal. 

However, you can’t always rely on the temperature gauge to alert you when your engine is overheating because it measures the engine coolant temperature. If the coolant sensor is faulty, you will get no indication on the temperature gauge. 

  1. Ticking Noise From Engine

If you hear a ticking noise from the engine, it means you have engine oil issues. The oil is required to lubricate the moving components of the engine and to cool them down.  When the engine oil has overheated due to the improper flow of the coolant, the oil will thin out.

When it thins out, its lubrication abilities will reduce, leading to the clacking of the engine mechanical parts. The clacking is the ticking noise you hear, and if it continues for a long time, it will wear and tear the components. 


How to cool a car that is running hot?

car is running hot 1

When you notice your car is running hot, there are a few things you can do temporarily to cool you car but I advice you to call the garage as soon as possible and schedule and appointment to have your car looked at. but below you can try the following temporary fixes;

  1. Turn off the A/C

When driving and you notice the car is overheating, turn the A/C off to worsen the issue. 

  1. Crank the heater

Turn up the heater to its maximum level so it can help the engine bay release the heat and cool down your vehicle. You’ll feel a bit hot yourself when you turn the heater on, so roll down the windows. 

Doing this will resolve the overheating issue, and it will help cool the engine so you can resume your trip (if it’s a short distance trip). 

  1. Park the car and let it cool off

If the temperature gauge is still at the hot zone or keeps climbing up, you’ll have to pull over. Turn off the car and leave it for at least 30 mins so the engine will cool off. 

Open the car hood so the heat and steam will leave the engine faster. The hood and everything underneath it will be hot, so make sure you handle it with care. After putting the hood up, do not try to fix or diagnose the issue until the car is no longer overheating and its parts are touchable without hurting yourself. 

The temperature gauge should start moving back to the normal zone. It could take up to an hour or less, depending on your vehicle.

Note: When the engine is hot, you should never attempt to remove the radiator cap. If you do, pressurized coolant that is extremely hot will pour out and burn you and people nearby. 

  1. Check the coolant 

Check the coolant. It is inside the reservoir that is connected to the radiator top. Open the reservoir cap and check if the coolant is low. On the body of the reservoir, you’ll see markings indicating where the coolant should reach, and if it’s below it, you have a low coolant problem. 

Add coolant to the reservoir, then put the cap on. You can also add distilled water if you have no coolant. Never use cold water because it will lead to more issues. Warm water is still useable; however, only use it to top it off; never use it to replace the coolant.  

Replacing the coolant won’t solve anything if the main issue is because the water pump or radiator is broken or the coolant hose is clogged. 

  1. Start the engine 

You can start the engine now but don’t yet start driving. Keep your eyes on the temperature gauge for a few minutes. If it is still at the normal level without showing increasing signs, you can start driving your car. 

Still, you can’t drive your car long-distance; instead, take it to the mechanic shop to inspect it. Driving it for long will lead to additional complications. The sooner it is inspected, and the issue is resolved, the better. 

  1. Call a tow truck 

If the coolant reservoir is leaking, no amount of coolant will resolve this issue because it will keep draining away, or if after all you’ve done to resolve the issue, the car is still hot, you’ll have to call a tow truck. 

Never attempt to start your vehicle if signs are showing the engine will overheat again. Call a tow truck and have them tow your vehicle to the mechanic shop. This is much better than driving the vehicle and causing more damage to it which will be costly to repair. 


How to prevent a car from running hot 

Prevention they say is better than cure, so there are a few things you can do to prevent your car from running hot.

  1. Regular inspection of coolant 

Since the coolant is usually the main culprit of an overheating vehicle, you’ll have to take the inspection of the coolant seriously. Always check if its level is at the normal range, and if it isn’t, refill it. 

Also, inspect the coolant for leaks, regardless of the coolant being full. 

  1. Turn off A/C

You can use your A/C at any time, but if you notice your car is running hot and you don’t want to stop the car, you’ll have to turn off the A/C. Reducing it will reduce the load on the engine because the A/C puts a strain on it. 

Turning it off will help maintain the operating temperature necessary for the smooth functioning of the engine. While the AC is off, you can roll down the windows. 

To make the engine cool faster, switch on the heater to pull out the heat of the engine. The interior of your car might get a bit hot, but it helps reduce the chances of your vehicle overheating. 

  1. Check the Radiator cap for damage

You should also inspect the radiator cap from time to time. If it has been damaged or isn’t closed properly, it will influence the pressure required to circulate the liquid. The radiator cap can get weak at any time, and once you notice this issue you’ll have to replace it quickly before it causes a major problem. 

  1. Check for wear and tear on the drive belt 

This is another component you should check out from time to time because it can break at any time, and when it breaks, the water pump won’t work, and the coolant won’t circulate. If you notice your engine overheats quickly, it will affect the belt over time, so you need to act quickly. 

  1. Flush the radiator

Just because the coolant in your car is still at the normal level doesn’t mean it can be left alone for a long time. You’ll still have to replace it from time to time by draining the old fluid and cleaning its lines with a flush fluid compound before filling it with a new coolant. 

You can check the owner’s manual to know when to flush coolants. Most new coolants will last for up to 100,000 miles or five years. If you notice debris in the coolant before then, you can change it. 


We covered everything you need to know in an easy-to-digest manner, without leaving out the necessary information, which will lead to better maintenance of your vehicle or spotting the underlying issues. You don’t need to get worried about your car running hot; all you need to know about this issue is covered in-depth here. 

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