Categorized | Dealer Service Academy

When the Customer’s Engine is Overheating

They’re stranded on the road and there are fumes billowing from underneath the hood. When you try to lift the hood your hands and face are greeted with a gust of hot steam and smoke. If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of having to pull over while driving due to an overheated engine then you probably understand why the problem can be a serious safety hazard. If you find that your car overheats regularly, it’s recommended that you take your vehicle to your nearest auto repair shop as soon as possible for an inspection.

Engine overheating can result from a number of different factors. Most of the time, however, the reason is due to coolant problems.

Coolant Problems
Coolant or antifreeze is essential to the engine’s cooling system. Anything that reduces or prevents the proper functioning of the coolant can result in engine overheating. Coolant leaks or low levels of coolant are common causes of overheating. Coolant must be circulated constantly throughout the engine in order to successfully reduce the heat levels within the engine system. Heat, by nature, is transferred from regions of high temperature to regions of low temperature. The coolant, which is far lower in temperature than the engine, absorbs the heat from the engine. Once absorbed, this heat must be released from the engine in order to prevent overheating. Circulation problems that result in blocked coolant will result in overheating.

Poor Conductivity and Airflow
Heat conductivity is the primary method of heat transfer within the engine. If conductivity is weak between different parts in the engine or between the parts and the coolant, heat may fail to be released from the engine causing it to overheat. Other causes include: a defective thermostat, a malfunctioning cooling fan, a collapsed radiator hose, a defective water pump or event a broken radiator cap.

Fuel Detonation and Pre-ignition
When an engine overheats, the first problem that usually occurs is gasoline detonation. The engine may fail to work under the excess heat. With a buildup of pressure and heat, the fuel may begin to detonate. The auto ignition of the fuel can cause flames to form within the combustion chamber. The explosive force that results from this sudden rise in pressure within the chamber causes a loud knocking noise, which signals that the engine is overloaded. Mild detonation is normal and usually causes no harm. However, if this knocking or overloading is prolonged, it can be very damaging to the engine.

The other consequence of overheating is pre-ignition. With a drastic increase in temperature, areas that are especially hot within the combustion chamber may begin to ignite the fuel. This can burn holes through the pistons and seriously damage the combustion chamber.

Blown head gaskets are another consequence of overheating. A head gasket is a ring shaped piece of metal that that sits between the engine block and cylinder head in an internal combustion engine. The purpose of a head gasket is to seal the cylinders to ensure maximum compression and avoid leakage of coolant or engine oil into the cylinders. The head gasket plays a vital role in preventing coolant leakage which is a common cause of overheating.

Overheating is usually not a serious problem and happens to most car owners once in a while, however if your engine overheats regularly that may be an indication that your engine is in need of serious repair.


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