While modern cars have advanced systems that do a great job of cooling down your engine, there’s still times when it can get overheated—even during the winter.

What signals an overheating engine?

  • Steam or smoke coming from under the hood.
  • The engine temperature gauge on your dashboard is moving into the red area or closer to the H.
  • You can smell an unpleasant odor coming from the front of your vehicle. Leaking coolant will smell sweet while oil leaks will smell burnt.

What should you do if your engine is overheating?

  • Turn on the heater. This will draw heat away from the engine, which can lessen some of the strain on the engine’s cooling system. If it’s not a severe issue, the driver might even see the temperature gauge return to the neutral position, which gives you enough time to drive to a service center for an inspection.
  • Pull over. If turning on the heat doesn’t work and the smoke or smell is getting worse, then this will be your next step. Getting off the road and turning off your engine is the safest way to cool it down. It typically takes around 15 minutes for the engine to go back to a safe temperature. Then, you can open up the hood to check it out. Opening the hood right after you pull over could be dangerous if it releases hot steam. If you don’t feel safe getting back on the road, then it’s time to call a tow.
  • Add coolant. Sometimes the engine is only overheating due to a low coolant level. If you’re up to the task, wait for the engine to cool down and then add some coolant. Put on some gloves and slowly open the radiator cap to slowly release any pressure that’s built up. Then add coolant until the liquid reaches the full line. Turn the car back on to see if the temperature gauge returns to neutral. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to visit the service center.

Overall, while an overheating engine can sometimes be a minor issue, it’s always a good idea to get it checked out by professionals. Bring your car into Superior Service Center for expert mechanical repair. We have locations in Eagan, MN and Apple Valley, MN.