Most moving parts of an engine expand when it overheats, and they can warp, bend or even break if the car is driven in this condition. A few examples include damaged cylinder walls, bent connecting rods, damaged bearings, broken crankshafts, warped cylinder heads and damaged head gaskets, all of which require expensive repairs.
Hot weather and a malfunctioning cooling system are the main reasons behind an engine overheating. However, low oil levels also increase friction between moving parts, resulting in too much heat. As soon as drivers notice a car's thermostat indicating high engine temperature, they should take steps to cool the engine.
- Turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to reduce the load on the engine.
- Turn on the heater and blower to transfer heat from the engine to the passenger compartment.
- If stuck in traffic, rev the engine slightly to increase air and coolant flow through the radiator.
If drivers notice steam rising from the hood of their car, they should pull over immediately, stop the car and let the engine cool to avoid damage.