What kind of damage is observed in an overheated car engine?

This blog post will answer the question, ‘What kind of damage is observed in an overheated car engine?’, and cover topics like causes of an engine that overheats, symptoms of a car engine that overheats, how to prevent this problem, and the cost of repairing an overheated car engine.

What kind of damage is observed in an overheated car engine?

The following kinds of damage can be observed in a car that is suffering from an overheated engine:

  • An overheated car engine causes engine knocking, and thus subjects the engine to increased stress, leading to the piston, piston rings, and timing belt damage.
  • Engine seals and gaskets can get heated by coming into contact with an overheated engine and melting as a result.
  • Cracked or warped cylinder heads can be observed as a result of engine overheating, and results in reduced compression ratios and leakage of engine coolant.
  • Head gaskets can get damaged and allow the engine coolant to seep in and cause severe internal damage to the engine and its components.
  • Pistons can undergo thermal expansion and rub against the cylinder walls, resulting in expensive repairs.
  • Valves can also get stuck open and lead to compression leak issues.
  • Burning or exploding radiators and hose pipes, melting in case they are made from plastic.

Causes of an engine that overheats

These are the following causes that influence a car engine overheating

Leakage of coolant

The cooling system of the engine is responsible for maintaining a normal operating temperature for the engine and for sucking away all the heat. It comprises the water pump, radiator, coolant hoses, a head gasket, and a thermostat.

These components are crucial for helping the cooling system function optimally and with time and frequent use they can get worn out or even broken, thus causing the coolant to leak out everywhere and hindering the cooling of the engine.

Obstructed hose pipes

In the event of no coolant leakage, the problem might lie in the hose pipes that have been clogged or obstructed due to the accumulated dirt and other debris from the roads, thus hindering the flow of coolant to the engine.

Defective water pump

The water pump is responsible for transporting the coolant material to the engine and can get damaged or worn out after frequent use. It is advisable to take a look at the bump shaft and impeller vanes of the water pump if they are working optimally.

Defective radiator

The radiator is another vital component of the car’s cooling system and helps to suck out the heat from the engine coolant, thus allowing it to be recirculated to the engine to cool it.

At times the radiator can face a broken fan or clogged channels and thus hinder the escape of the heat from the coolant thus keeping both the coolant and the engine hot. The radiator cap might also be loose or broken.

Insufficient oil levels

Oils that are meant for the car act as both a lubricant for moving components and a cooling agent for the internal temperatures of the engine.

Low oil levels will result in lower cooling being done for the engine and all its components and also cause a lot of friction between moving components as they rub against each other without any lubrication.

Faulty thermostat

The thermostat is responsible for opening and closing whenever needed to keep the engine at a normal operating temperature. If it gets stuck in either an open or closed position, it can cause the engine to overheat.

Symptoms of a car engine that overheats

These are the following symptoms that help in identifying an overheating car engine.

The temperature gauge reads red

The temperature gauge is vital for determining the car temperature and it consists of a needle that points to the current state of the car. The needle should almost always stay clear of the red area that indicates the car is overheating.

Fumes from under the hood

The car engine when overheated will cause fumes to radiate out of the engine hood, that might be caused due to a faulty radiator that prevents the heat from escaping from the engine coolant.

Distinct smell

A car engine is made up of different components like metal, plastic, and rubber. In case of the engine overheating, a distinct burning smell is present inside the cabin and should be tended to immediately.

Weak engine performance

An overheating engine will result in a drop in engine performance, and trying to accelerate or get more out of the car will result in no results as the car will fail to meet any of the demands.

How to prevent this problem?

The problem of a car engine overheating can be prevented by adhering to the following protocols:

  • The engine coolant level must be checked on a regular basis, as it is the primary source of cooling for the engine, and also the first suspect in the case of an overheating engine.
  • The temperature gauge should not be ignored, as the needle pointing to the red zone can indicate severe overheating of the car engine. The temperature gauge should not be broken or defective, or else it becomes difficult to make out the true state of the engine.
  • In case the car AC is on, and the temperature keeps rising, switch it off and after opening the doors and windows, turn on the heater to suck in the heat from the engine into the cabin and send it outside. 
  • Make sure to check for leaking coolant puddles under the car, and also replace the old coolant with a newer one whenever needed.
  • A faulty thermostat must be replaced immediately as it is tasked with regulating the flow of coolant within the engine.
  • A broken or worn-out timing belt needs replacement as well, as it helps run the water pump for the coolant circulation within the engine.
  • Regularly inspect the radiator cap to make sure it is tightly sealed to keep the coolant under optimal pressure conditions.

Cost of repairing an overheated engine

The cost of an overheated car engine can range from 150-2000$. The repairs related to the refilling of coolants and antifreeze, hose pipes, thermostats, etc are comparatively cheap.

Although the repairs pertaining to damaged pistons, gaskets, radiators, water pumps, etc are the areas where the wallet can feel a bit light after investing.

Research has shown the different types of coolants and the various factors that need to be taken into consideration when selecting the best engine coolant for your car.

Conclusion

This blog post addressed the question, ‘What kind of damage is observed in an overheated car engine?’

We came across the various causes of an overheating car engine, the symptoms of this condition, and the various ways to prevent this scenario from taking place, along with steps to tackle it. Furthermore, the cost of repairing an overheated engine has also been discussed. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What kind of damage is observed in an overheated car engine?

What temperature is considered overheating in a car?

An engine with an operating temperature of more than 220F is considered to be an overheating engine.

What temp is too high for coolant?

The normal operating temperature of the engine coolant should be somewhere between 235-250F.

Why does my engine feel so hot?

The primary reasons behind a car engine feeling hot are a defective water pump, damaged head gasket, a faulty thermostat, or, insufficient coolant levels.

References

https://www.firestonecompleteautocare.com/blog/maintenance/when-car-overheats/

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