If your car's engine is overheating when you drive, then you need to determine the cause of the problem before you drive your vehicle again. If you allow your vehicle to overheat, then the engine's seal can fail or the heads in the motor can crack, causing the need for very expensive repairs.
Here are the most common problems causing a car to overheat and their solutions:
No Water in the Car's Radiator
The first step in diagnosing a cooling problem is to open up the radiator cap and ensure that your vehicle's radiator has water in it. Never open the cap when the car is hot as this will cause hot steam to escape that will burn your skin.
If there is no water in the radiator, then you should add antifreeze or water and then drive your vehicle to see if it still overheats. Sometimes, the fluid has been dripping out of a small leak for an extended period of time, and simply adding some water will solve the problem.
A Clogged Radiator
Located within your car's radiator is a system of very small-diameter water tubes. As the water flows through these tubes, it is cooled by the outside air as you drive down the road. When a radiator tube becomes clogged with sediment or the natural salts found in tap water, then it blocks the flow of water through the radiator. When the radiator becomes blocked, then the water is never cooled and your engine will quickly overheat.
To fix a clogged radiator, you can take you car to a local radiator shop and have it flushed out with a special solvent. Additionally, due to the inexpensive cost of a new radiator today, many people opt to simply replace their old radiator with a new one.
A Failed Thermostat
Finally, your car has an internal thermostat that controls the flow of cooling water through your car's engine as it heats up. When the thermostat fails, then it fails to open and your engine will overheat because no cooled water is flowing from the car's radiator to its motor. If you have auto repair experience, then you can replace the thermostat yourself. However, if you do not have the mechanical expertise, then you should take your car to a local auto repair shop. Changing a thermostat is not a difficult task in and of itself, but it requires that you take off other parts of your car's engine to access it.