Checking levels of liquid in cars

What to do if your car overheats

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
What to do if your car overheats

If your car runs out of water or coolant you must pull over as soon as possible and turn off the engine. This helps to prevent overheating which can result in costly damage to the car's engine. Cars that have electronic systems will automatically lose power and come to a complete stop when the temperature gets too high. At we'll provide solutions for what to do if your car overheats.

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Steps to follow:


If your car runs out of water, you face the serious problem of the car overheating and thus damaging vital engine components. Therefore, it's essential to stop the vehicle as soon as possible when you run out of fluid. Signal clearly and in a timely manner so that other drivers are aware that you're pulling over, and immediately notify your roadside assistance company.


If your car has an advanced electronic system, you're in luck, because the car will stop on its own when the engine temperature reaches a certain level due to a lack of water. These types of vehicles have sensors that detect when the engine is overheating and will bring the car to a standstill. You will notice that the car slowly loses power and that the accelerator doesn't respond until the car stops completely.


If you happen to have a water bottle, use it to fill the radiator if the car is out of water. Only do this, however, if there is no smoke coming out of the engine due to overheating. If you believe the car has already been damaged, it's better not to move it but to have it towed to the nearest mechanic.


Filling the radiator with water is quite simple, but you must wait until the engine has cooled sufficiently to avoid getting burned. The water will evaporate at high temperatures so it's best to wait until everything has cooled down. Open the bonnet to allow the engine to cool down faster.


The tank which contains the water is usually a transparent, white colour and is connected to the radiator via a hose. First unscrew the radiator cap a little but without removing it completely in order to slowly release the pressure, and then fully remove it. Add the water, screw the cap back on and close the bonnet.


When you get to where you're going, take the car to a mechanic to ensure that it hasn't been damaged due to overheating because the car was out of water. Ask them to add coolant to the tank as well.


To prevent your car running out of water and overheating in the future, make sure you keep up with your regular vehicle maintenance. About every 620 miles (1,000 km) or every two months, you should check the coolant level in the car to ensure that everything is in working order.

If you want to read similar articles to What to do if your car overheats, we recommend you visit our Car Maintenance and Repair category.

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This is a great article with some great tips - I actually had this problem a few months ago and ever since I've been determined to read up on it to make sure I'm prepared for next time! I was actually reading an article recently that said it's important to switch off the air conditioning. Would you say this is important or is this not really necessary?
What to do if your car overheats