Knowing how to tell if the engine is damaged from overheating can save you an expensive trip to the garage. When an engine overheats, the pistons and other components expand.
If it continues running, seizing of the cylinder bore occurs. This can cause cracks on the cylinder heads and the engine block.
A car engine can overheat because of several reasons that may not be from within. How to tell if Engine is damaged from overheating may involve certain things.
A leaking coolant, broken fans, stuck thermostat, or broken head gaskets and radiator are some of the prime causes of overheating.
The good news is that you can reduce the extent of damages if you detect and respond fast to signs of an overheating engine.
Next is how you can tell if your car engine is on the verge of breaking down due to overheating.
How to tell if Engine is Damaged from Overheating
1. Hot hood
When driving, the engine emits heat, which is normal. You can even touch the hood to feel the warmth without burning.
But again, if the hood gets extremely hot, there must be a problem. It is recommended that you let the car cool down before opening the hood to check the cause of heat.
2. Temperature gauge
Most modern vehicles have warning alert lights on the dashboard and gauge indicators for different components. If the temperature gauge rises, it means the engine is generating excess heat.
Don’t always rely on the warning light to note an overheating engine. In most cases, the alert is based on the coolant temperature rise because of a faulty radiator or leak.
3. Scuffing noise
Scuffing means friction or wear. When the engine oil fails to lubricate the pistons well, it provokes a ticking sound from within. The oil also overheats and loses its velocity properties.
As a result, the engine parts wear faster than usual.
The pistons again swell and grind against the cylinders, causing seizing. The problem leads to snapped rods and shattered piston skirts.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do except call a certified mechanic to replace the worn-out pistons.
4. Coolant leaks
If you ever notice a puddle of coolant fluid under the car, chances are that one of the cooling system parts is leaking.
Coolant leaks cause the engine to overheat, which can lead to expensive repairs if ignored. This is because the engine gets less cooling effect to regulate temperature.
A wise thought is you pull over and shut off the engine before checking the cause of the leak. If any of the hoses are cracked, you can fix them by adding coolant repair sealant to the coolant.
Ensure you use a 50:50 ratio of the two liquids to optimize their performance. If this fails, replace the hoses altogether and refill the coolant afterward.
5. Fume smells
Any fume smells from the car demand attention right off. When the engine oil overheats, rubber gasket seals and plastic valves can melt, releasing unusual odor.
The coolant then leaks, combining with the melted seals to produce smelly fumes.
In such an instance, there is little you can do to restore the seals and valves. Your best option is to toe the car into a garage.
More so, repairing the affected part will need the removal of the flanges to apply gasket sealant.
6. Steam from the hood
Any steam rising from the hood of a car is a sign of an overheating engine. This suggests that the radiator isn’t eliminating heat from the liquid coolant.
Also, the steam could imply the thermostat isn’t monitoring the coolant temperature.
The aftermath is the vapor that escapes from the car hood through the radiator cap, brown hose joints, or coolant reservoir.
7. Thumping noise
The thermostat is the cooling system controller. It contains a valve that allows coolant flow to the radiator from the engine. If the valve fails, coolant can trap in the engine block and overheat.
Whenever the hot coolant gets into contact with the cold coolant, the engine produces a thumping sound.
The good news is you can fix the problem by replacing the thermostat. First, wait for the engine to cool down, drain the coolant, and disconnect the top hose at the thermostat housing.
Scrape the surface carefully to remove stains of the old gasket before applying a new one and replacing the new thermostat.
8. Reduced engine power
An overheated engine alters fuel combustion and can lead to excess exhaust emission. This results in the engine losing power to propel the car, regardless of how much you press the fuel pedal.
Keep an eye on the exhaust and dashboard engine light—pullover when you hear noise from the engine after accelerating.
Frequently Asked Questions about Car Engine Overheating
1. Will a car start after overheating?
It depends on the extent of the heat. If intense, the cylinder head will expand, allowing engine compression to escape through the gasket. This will often prevent the car from starting.
2. Why did my car shut off after the coolant leaked?
Most modern cars have computerized sensors. If the coolant level subsides or the temperature rises above average, the engine turns off to prevent damages.
3. What happens when the car overheats and shuts off?
In most cases, the thermostat may be stuck or the head gasket burned. If the gaskets burn, the underside of the oil reservoir cap gets soaked.
4. What should I check after the car overheats?
It is wise you call a mechanic to inspect the cause. But again, you can check the condition of the radiator, thermostat, water pump, and whether the hoses have cracks.
5. How can I prevent the car from overheating?
Proper maintenance is the only silver bullet you’ll have. This means you check engine and coolant system parts regularly and fix any potential issue before it escalates.
With the above descriptions, you know how to tell if an engine is damaged from overheating. The wisest thing to do after noting symptoms is to stop the car. Achieving this prevents further damage to the engine.
Never touch the hood soon after stopping or switching off the engine. Give the car about 30 minutes to cool down. At the same time, consider toeing it to the garage or calling your mechanic.