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Summer Car 101 - Fear of Overheating in the Summer?


Given that August is upon us all & the extreme heat waves that we've seen throughout the country, there is no time like the present to talk about the implications of your vehicle overheating. The last place any of us want to be during these sweltering days is stuck on the side of I-5 with an overheated/smoking vehicle. Given the expected high temperatures surrounding a running engine and the aid from mother nature, heating the pavement and air around us, the end of summertime creates the perfect storm of conditions for an overheated vehicle. The team here at Bristow’s Auto Repair wants to ensure the safety of everyone on the road & to keep your vehicle from overheating, so we present Summer Car 101 Overheating Edition.


Overheating Warning Signs

  • Hot Hood:  Although it's normal for a hood to feel warm when the engine is running, especially in the summer. One fundamental way to tell if your hood is too hot is if you can't touch the hood for more than 10 seconds without it burning your hand, it is a critical sign that it's too hot and is a warning sign of what's to come.

  • Temperature Gauge on Your Dashboard. If the light is flashing or the gauge is reaching its maximum level, your engine is overheating.

  • Coolant Leaking: if you notice bright green, orange or pink liquid from the bottom of your vehicle, you've found yourself a coolant leak & overheating can follow. 


Why Systems Overheat 

Coolant System Leaks: There are many areas in your vehicle's cooling system that could spring a leak, & this is the most common cause of engine overheating. When a leak occurs, coolant can't flow to critical engine parts, which causes heat to build up without being released by the radiator. The most obvious way to determine if a leak has happened will be visible under your vehicle on the ground. It's not the only fluid that can leak from your engine, and it's essential to recognize what a coolant leak may look like; coolant is usually going to be bright green, orange or pink, and it might have a sweet smell. Remember: If you see coolant leaks under your vehicle, clean it up immediately. The coolant contains chemicals that are highly toxic to both people and pets.  


Blocked Coolant Hoses: When a coolant hose is clogged by different nasty particles such as sediment and dirt from the road, it prevents fluid from going through the hoses and this can lead to overheating. However, to ensure everything is flowing correctly you can get a coolant flush, which also removes dangerous chemical buildups (such as rust, contaminates, and scale deposits) from your engine. 


Water Pump Leaks: A water pump is vital to a car engine's operation because it ensures an optimum operating temperature for the entire internal system through circulation. When there is a leak, the coolant cannot continue moving through the radiator, engine block, and cylinder head. This causes internal heating to parts that need to stay cool will cause the engine to begin to overheat quickly, and you'll soon see steam leaking from under your vehicle's hood. 


Failing Radiator Caps: Your vehicle's radiator cap is a small piece of your car, but it has the enormous job of sealing. Your radiator is highly pressurized, and the small cap creates a tight seal that keeps the cooling system at the proper pressure. When the seal begins to wear, it can allow some coolant to escape causing the internal temperatures to rise.


How to Prevent Overheating 

The best way to ensure you're not stuck on the side of the road is to get a proper summer checkup before the high temperatures reach you; preventive maintenance is vital to ensure your vehicle does its job all summer long. 


Coolant Flush Importance: One essential step to add to your summer plans is getting your vehicle's coolant checked. Your vehicle's coolant is what keeps your car at a stable, comfortable temperature. If your vehicle didn't have any coolant, then your vehicle would overheat almost immediately & cause danger to essential parts of your car's internal system. Your vehicle's coolant doesn't just keep you cool as a cucumber in your vehicle with A/C, but it also prolongs the life of the system. A coolant flush is what it sounds like, flushing out the old coolant to make room for the new! When the system is filled with a new coolant, your engine, and A/C system will thank you. Typical engine coolant fluid needs to be flushed every two years or 30,000 miles to ensure it works at peak efficiency, but getting a check in the summer never hurts. 


We at Bristow's Auto Repair take all the steps to ensure you aren't one of those unlucky individuals on the side of the road with a steaming overheated vehicle. We perform all the needed services to keep your vehicle running at optimum efficiency so you can be cool as a cucumber! We specialize in BMW and Porsche service and repair and would love for you to make your checkup appointment with some of the most qualified auto mechanics in the Tacoma region today. Our regular operating hours are Monday- Friday from 8 AM- 5 PM, closed on the weekends. With our two-year, 24,000-mile warranty, your vehicle is in the best hands. Please make your appointment with us today!

We look forward to seeing you soon & cheers to August!


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