Summer Is Upon Us, Ready To Overheat Vehicles

Jim Luff
Posted on June 8, 2016

It’s that time again. The time of year where no matter where you live, it’s hot, hot, hot. This means it’s hot for your vehicles as well. Climbing long grades laden with luggage and large amounts of people can easily overheat fleet vehicles. The same applies to idling your vehicles for long periods in the scorching sun.

In a business that is supposed to be the lap of luxury, we sometimes find ourselves sweating like pigs and watching our clients perspiring as they wait for a "rescue vehicle.” Overheating is not always a case of lack of maintenance. It is unforgiving and blistering heat under heavy loads that causes vehicles to overheat.

While we give the same advice, year after year, it’s important to save you from potentially severe burns from exploding radiator fluid and steam. Never pour water over the top of the engine. You can easily crack the entire engine block as well as receive steam burns to your face and arms. Never open the radiator cap on an overheated vehicle with the engine turned off. Having the engine running keeps the water circulating rather than building up pressure at the cap.

Use a wet towel to open the cap slightly. Never touch the cap with your bare hand. Once the cap has been loosened for at least two minutes, you can remove the cap to add fluid if needed. As you add coolant or water to the radiator, it may appear the level of coolant is dropping although you are still adding fluid. This is normal as it flows through the engine. Continue filling until it either can’t hold anymore or starts pushing fluid out. Make sure you use a wet towel to securely replace the cap.

Once replaced, check under the vehicle to make sure fluid is not coming out from underneath the vehicle. If this happens, there are many factors that could be the cause including a hole in a radiator hose (upper or lower), a crack in the radiator itself, or a water pump that has failed. If any of these are the culprit, you will need mechanical work.

Related Topics: engine fluids, Jim Luff, maintenance tips, Shop Talk blog, vehicle maintenance

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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