Emergency! What to Do If Your Engine Overheats

One of the scariest possible moments for a driver that doesn’t involve a collision is when an engine overheats. While an engine overheating is certainly dangerous and can absolutely ruin a car, following some basic safety precautions and keeping a level head will keep anyone safe.

What to do if your car overheats:


1. Leave the car running and turn off the A/C and any non-essential electronics like the radio. This will allow the radiator to cool the engine properly.

2. If you see flames or suspect that there may be a fire under the hood, do not open it. The additional air will spread the fire rapidly and you could be severely burned before you have time to react.

3. The car may take up to 30 minutes to properly cool down. If you suspect that the car has cooled down, touch the hood with the back of your hand lightly to get a sense for the temperature. Once it feels cool, it should be safe to open the hood.

4. Only when the engine has cooled, look to see if there is any coolant left in the tank. If there is enough to get you to the next gas station or store, you should be able to drive the car without issue. If not, do not drive your vehicle as you may damage it further. Call for a tow.


Keep calm and don’t be in a rush to drive your car after it overheats. It is likely that your vehicle will recover and be fine. Put the safety of you and your passengers first, then worry about the car.

For more car care advice and maintenance tips, check the Strutmasters blog.