Emergencies and Breakdowns

My engine has overheated, what do I do now?

Follow this link on how to deal with car Basic Car Maintenance, or carry on reading to help you deal with your car overheating

The two signs that your engine has overheated are the temperature gauge shows "Hot" or the coolant warning light comes on when you are driving.

Stop driving as soon as possible and allow engine to cool down for at least 15 minutes before checking. If you remove the radiator cap before the engine has cooled down you could get scalded.

If you use a cloth or rag bunched around the cap when opening this will reduce the risk of any mishap should it not have cooled down completely. Most radiator caps come off in two stages, a quarter turn will allow most of the pressure to release without letting blast of steam out into your face and the second quarter turn will completely release the cap.

When the engine has cooled down, check the level of coolant, either in the radiator by slowly removing the cap using a glove or cloth or some cars have a plastic expansion tank where the level can be seen easily.

In many cases you can get going again by topping up the water level to the mark on the expansion tank or just below the filler cap on the radiator.

In winter one of the tell tale signs a car is running without enough cooling water is when the heater starts to blow cold air into the car instead of hot.

Whilst waiting for the engine to cool down, check for any obvious signs of a leak. A leaking coolant hose can be temporarily repaired by binding with tape. A leaking radiator can be temporarily sealed with chewing gum stuck over the hole.

Check the belt that drives the water pump and radiator fan on many cars. All cars have at least one belt to drive the generator and water pump and perhaps a power steering pump as well. A slipping or broken generator drive belt will not allow the battery to be charged efficiently. On many cars the same belt drives the engine water pump and fan, so the engine may overheat. If the belt is slipping it will make a screaming noise when the engine is running. This means it needs adjustment and is wearing badly and should be replaced as soon as possible, otherwise, it could break. Some belts are fairly easily replaced, however, as many are difficult (if not impossible by the amateur), it is probably best to seek advice.