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Here's what to do if your car overheats

Here's what to do if your car overheats

As the summer season approaches the NRMA is reminding motorists to be wary of the potential dangers associated with overheating vehicles.

Cars overheat most often in very hot weather and while you might think it’s rare with modern vehicles, even a well-tuned engine can lose its cool when the temperature start to peak out.

New NRMA breakdown data reveals that 64,608 of roadside assistance callouts in the FY 2017 were for overheated engines.

The motoring group has also reported numerous incidents over the past two years where Members have injured themselves as a result of attempting to fix overheated cars.

Too hot to handle

In severe cases the damage caused by overheating can be catastrophic and require a complete overhaul or replacement of the engine if the problem is not caught in time.

If you find yourself in stop-start traffic or climbing a steep incline on an extremely hot day and your dashboard temperature indicator starts to rise into the red zone or the “Check Engine” or “Temperature” warning light illuminates, don't ignore these warnings as the coolant in your radiator will eventually boil and steam will rise from under the bonnet. 

If this happens to you, stay safe by following these three simple steps from the NRMA:  

  1. Pull over to a safe location as soon as overheating is detected and put your hazard lights on. Continuing to drive, even for a short distance could greatly increase the damage to your vehicle.
  2. Call the NRMA on 131111 for help or request roadside assistance using the mynrma app. The call centre staff will dispatch a road service patrol to assist you.
  3. While waiting for a patrol, do not open the bonnet. It's very dangerous to remove the radiator cap from a hot engine. A severely overheated engine can take several hours to cool so don't touch or try to remove any engine components.

In the event your vehicle requires towing after overheating, it's because it's suffered or is suspected of suffering major damage and the cause could not be found or fixed at the roadside.

Although hot weather is the most common cause of overheating, many other factors can cause the same problem.

If your vehicle overheats in traffic in normal weather, one of the following may be the culprit:

  • A leak in the cooling system
  • Water and coolant level in the radiator is low

Regular checks of your car’s cooling system and proper car servicing will significantly reduce the risk of overheating.

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