Memorial Day Weekend is just around the corner, ushering in the unofficial beginning of the summer season. Last week some cities, including Phoenix and Los Angeles, experienced triple-digit temperatures. Unfortunately, higher temperatures place vehicle engines at a higher risk of overheating, especially if there have been lapses in routine vehicle maintenance.
Here’s some advice from the National Safety Council on what to do when a car’s engine overheats. You may want to pass these tips along to your drivers as a friendly reminder.
- If your car overheats, do not drive more than a quarter mile.
- Have the vehicle towed to avoid further damage to the engine.
But if there is no experienced mechanic or tow truck nearby, or if there is no cellphone coverage to call for help, here are some steps you can take:
- Pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine.
- Do not open the hood until the car has completely cooledor the temperature gauge has moved from hot to cool.
- Check the coolant (also called antifreeze) level in the radiator. Look in the owner’s manual if you are unsure where the coolant reservoir tank is.
- Make sure the radiator cap is cool before opening it. Slowly twist it off with a towel and beware of any hot steam. If needed, fill coolant to the top of the radiator. Put the radiator cap back on.
- Be sure the upper or lower radiator hose and any of the heater hoses have not been blocked, disconnected or burst.
- Restart the engine.
- Carefully monitor the temperature gauge. If you see it crossing the optimal mark, pull over to a safe location and turn the engine off.
While your best bet is to get help from a mechanic, your safest bet is to be prepared. Store these essential items in you car: Coolant, tool kit, working flashlight, towel, non-perishable foods and water.
To watch a video on the subject, featuring Dr. William Van Tassel of AAA, click on the photo or link above, right under the headline. He offers more tips on how to respond to engine overheating.
To watch another video offering summertime car maintenance tips, click on the link or photo below.