How to Know if Your Car is Overheating

2020 Michigan Car Collision RepairCars these days are pretty advanced—they’re filled with all sorts of computers and specialized systems to ensure that everything is running smoothly. But despite all that, the internal combustion engine is still a mechanical system, comprised of rotating parts and explosions. Most components will be rubbing up against each other, creating friction. And anytime you have friction, there’s the potential for a lot of heat to be created.

Engines rely on coolants and oil to keep components cool enough to operate. Any deficiency in coolant or oil can mean that your car will overheat. An overheating engine can quickly cause the affected components to become damaged or nonfunctional. When that happens, you’re looking at big bills to get everything fixed. Today we’ll be looking at how to avoid those bills and the symptoms that will let you know if you need to get your car to an auto body repair shop or mechanic to get things sorted.

Temperature gauge in the red

Every car has some sort of temperature gauge or readout that tells the driver the engine temperature. While people generally pay little mind to it when the car is running fine, it’s featured so prominently on your dashboard for a reason. While normally the needle will read somewhere in the middle of the gauge, when your car is overheating the needle can start to approach the red zone that signifies that your engine is at a higher temperature than normal. Granted, there are cases where the gauge itself can be faulty, that’s much less likely than your engine overheating.

Strange smells

A car engine is a giant hunk of metal, with some smaller pieces of plastic and rubber interspersed throughout, along with oils and coolants. Whenever your engine runs hot, all these materials can give off a strange odor that some people can describe as a “hot” sort of smell. We’ve seen this happen with cars where the temperature gauge reads normal and there’s no engine warning light on. You might even smell this through your air conditioning as the intake goes through the engine itself.

Sluggish acceleration and performance

When your car’s engine overheats, the pistons that drive the car expand within the cylinder bore. These expanded pistons will rub up against the cylinder and create friction, slowing down the rotation of the crankshaft. This slowing down means the engine will lose the ability to generate power and accelerate. If you’re noticing that your car isn’t moving as snappily as it should, then it may be time to check the temperature.

Steam or smoke from under the hood

This is probably the most visible indicator of overheating and one that’s hard to miss—after all, it’s pretty hard to drive when there’s a cloud of steam right in front of your windshield. Once this starts to happen, it’s time to pull over and assess what might be wrong with your engine. If it’s not steam but smoke, it could be an even more serious issue—this is usually accompanied by a burning smell coming from the engine or air conditioning vents.

Overheating is an incredibly common sign of car trouble, but it doesn’t have to keep you from enjoying your car. King Brothers are more than ready to help you out and get your vehicle back into tip top condition. If you’re hearing any strange sounds or knocking, a lack of acceleration, or any other indicators of overheating, give us a call. Our highly-skilled auto mechanics will be more than happy to give your car a full run-through. You can reach us at 313-534-8090 (Redford) or 734-744-8557 (Livonia), or feel free to request for a quote here.

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