Engine Overheating

Your engine overheating can be an indication of a variety of issues. Many of them can be small and inexpensive. However, not addressing an engine overheating immediately can cause major damage to the motor. Here is some information that you should know in case you run into this issue.

Why is it important?

Engines are designed to operate within normal temperatures. The cooling system is designed to keep the engine within the safe range.  Usually, a normal engine temperature falls between 195 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit . Some may allow as high as 250. Anything above the manufacturers rated engine temperature could cause significant and costly damage to the engine.

What type of damage?

There are many issues that may arise, but here are some of the more common.


When overheating, detonation occurs when the fuel ignites at the wrong time in the cycle. This can cause damage to the pistons, rings and rod bearings.

Malformation of internal components

Vital components such as pistons and exhaust valves can swell and warp causing them to scrape and damage the components around them, further compounding the issue.

Blown Head Gasket

A blown head gasket can cause overheating and be caused by overheating. As coolant leaks into the engine, the coolant level drops, making the problem worse.

Damaged Radiator and/or Hoses

As the engine overheats, pressure builds in the cooling system. As the system builds to pressure beyond its normal range, hoses and the radiator may burst and crack.

It will only get worse…

As one of these issues occurs, it makes the engine overheat more. Accelerating the overheating process and causing further damage.

What causes engine overheating?

Several things can cause an engine to overheat. Here are the most common:

  • Low Coolant Level
  • Coolant System Leak
  • Bad Water Pump
  • Bad Thermostat

All of these problems are much less expensive to repair than the damage that can be caused by an overheating engine.

How Do You Know?

Many times, you car will tell you. Most engines will display a warning on the dashboard with an audible alert. In addition, keep an eye out for these issues:

  • Steam from under the hood
  • Reduced power
  • A funny smell

What to Do

Have one of our Ford Certified technicians take a look if you experience any of the above situations.

In the meantime, you need to cool the engine down. The most important thing to do is turn the engine off! Once the engine is off, it will begin to cool.

Second, open the hood to allow more air flow into the engine compartment. DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! IT will be extremely hot.

How To Avoid an Engine Overheating

Some of the causes of an engine overheating are hard to avoid. Some internal components simply go bad over time. However, two simple things that you can do are:

  1. Ensure that coolant levels are topped off
  2. Regularly inspect your hoses for cracks and damage.

At Sturman and Larkin Ford, when you come in for any vehicle service, we inspect the cooling system for you along with many other items to ensure that your vehicle is in good shape.

Want more information? Contact the service advisers at Sturman and Larkin Ford today and let us show you why we are Pittsburgh’s best car and truck service department.