How can you tell if your car is overheating?

What are some signs that my car is overheating? I hear a ticking noise from my engine, but I don’t know what that means.

It’s worrying if you think your car’s engine is overheating.
Here are some signs that can indicate an overheating engine:
  • Touch the hood: If the hood of your vehicle feels warm, that is normal. But if it feels extremely hot, this may be a sign your engine is overheating.
  • Check the temperature gauge: Locate the warning light on the dashboard. Notice if any lights are flashing or the temperature gauge indicates a high temperature.
  • Noise: Hearing ticking noises on your engine is another sign your engine is not working properly. When the engine oil is unable to properly lubricate the engine, parts of the engine will rattle against each other loudly.
  • Leaking coolant: If you see coolant is leaking, this may mean your cooling system is not working properly. However, it can also be a sign that the engine is overheating and is so hot that it boiled the coolant, which results in an excess coolant and overflows the tank.
  • Smell: If you smell a hot odor, this is a result of the melted rubber and plastic parts securing the overheating engine. You should never ignore strange smells from your car.
  • Steam from under the hood: Seeing steam from under the hood is a definite sign the vehicle engine is overheating.
  • Limited engine power: When a car is overheating, the engine does not work properly. Instead, the vehicle will move at a slower or inconsistent speed.
If you notice any of these signs, pull over to a safe place and turn off your car. Be patient and wait for the engine to cool down naturally. Wait to check fluid levels until the hood is cool to the touch.
While you are waiting for the engine to cool down, consider getting a roadside assistance membership so you can get professional assistance. If you’re looking for a roadside assistance membership, try Jerry. Jerry offers industry-leading roadside assistance. Along with traditional benefits, you get Uber-like tracking for the status of your service and the ability to contact your service provider directly for as low as $4.16 a month.
Phoebe Mah
Answered on Nov 19, 2021

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