Most of today’s cars have an engine temperature gauge as well as a temperature light.  The light for engine temperature will always be red, if this illuminates you need to shut the engine off as soon as possible.  The longer you continue to drive, the more catastrophic the damage will be.  Eventually, you will cause internal damage to the engine.  By continuing to drive the vehicle with the temperature light on you will be creating more problems—very costly problems.  DO NOT drive “just a little farther” to get home or the next exit while the temperature light is on.  We’ve heard the story all too often after telling our client they need major engine repairs for what was a relatively simple repair before the damage occurred from continued driving.  The exception to that is if you are on a bridge or freeway and it’s just not safe to pull over.  Safety first always!

When the temperature light comes on, you should also check the temperature gauge if your car has it and safely pull over.  If the gauge indicates the engine is too hot, turn your engine off as soon as you safely can.  The first step in the process of troubleshooting is to determine if your coolant level is full.  Be very careful, the system is hot!

Exercise extreme caution when checking coolant level or adding coolant to a hot car as you could be severely burned. It’s best to let the vehicle set at least an hour with the hood up to allow the engine to cool down before adding coolant.  In these situations you need to check the radiator coolant level and not just the overflow reservoir.  Before opening the radiator cap you should squeeze the upper radiator hose to make sure it is fairly soft and you can hold it and it without burning your hand.   If it’s hard and feels like it’s under pressure it still isn’t safe to open the cooling system for inspection.

The necessity to add coolant usually indicates that you have a leak that needs to be repaired.  If the coolant level is full and the engine is hot this means a component within the cooling system has failed.  Either way, you will need to get your car to a repair as soon as possible.  If the radiator and cooling system is full, it is always best to have the vehicle towed to a repair facility in order to prevent expensive engine damage.

Call the experts at Express Auto/RV care Center at (928)305-0767. For all your cooling system needs, we will get you back on the road.