Vehicles usually overheat in extremely hot weather. Fortunately, today’s BMWs feature sophisticated cooling systems, including engine temp sensors and computer-monitored electric fans, designed to keep your engine running optimally no matter what the season. But overheating is still a possibility, and it’s important to know what to do in the event it happens to you.
If you see that your engine is starting to overheat, you’ll want to turn off the AC and turn on the heat to get the heat away from your engine. This reduces the burden on the cooling system. If that doesn’t work, pull over and turn off the engine. Once the car has cooled, open the hood and check the coolant.
You can do your part to prevent further damage to your BMW’s engine if you can get it cooled down before it overheats and the engine fails. Then, you can get the car safely to your trusted mechanic.
Signs of Overheating
Not sure what an overheating engine looks like? First, you will see steam (it may look like smoke) coming from under the hood. Your dashboard engine temperature gauge may also increase to “H” or go into the red. Consult your owner’s manual for the specific symbol for your BMW model. You may also smell a strange odor coming from the engine compartment. Keep in mind, leaking coolant smells sweet, while leaking oil smells burnt.
Basics of Your Engine Cooling System
Your engine’s cooling system is comprised of the radiator, cooling fan, and hoses that send coolant to and throughout the engine block and head. The coolant absorbs heat as it circulates from the engine, then that air is cooled when it goes through the radiator.
If your BMW has reached its coolant temperature limit, have it serviced immediately. If the cooling process doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, problems will crop up. When your engine temp increases suddenly, damage to components or the engine itself can result. These are very expensive repairs and replacements. So, if you see the warning light on your dashboard light up, indicating your engine is overheating, don’t ignore it.
If an engine overheats, it could seize, which is when the engine gets so hot that the internal parts have become welded together. The engine is then inoperable.
Common Reasons For Your Car to Overheat
- Coolant is being circulated incorrectly: Overheating can arise if the water/antifreeze mixture is not circulating correctly. Check it regularly. You may not have a leak, but it can actually evaporate with time. To cool down the engine so you can get to your mechanic, add half cup of water to the antifreeze tank.
- Leaks: If you have noticed that your water/antifreeze levels are always low, you may have a leak in your cooling system.
- Hose replacement: The hoses responsible for circulating your coolant can get clogged or detached with time. Even partial blockages can keep coolant from circulating.
- Other Issues: Other issues could be to blame, such as a broken water pump, internal coolant leak, coolant passage debris, faulty radiator fan, or clogged radiator.
When Your Car Overheats
Here’s what to do if your BMW overheats:
- Pull over and stop: Pull over at a safe location and shut off the car.
- Turn on the heat: Turning off the AC and put the heat on high if the vehicle is still moving to safety.
- Open all windows: This will allow the heat to escape.
- Check the coolant: Wait till the engine has cooled, then open the hood and check the coolant level in the radiator. Top off if needed.
- Start up the engine again: If you can safely proceed, you can drive to your mechanic. Don’t just assume everything is OK. You still need to get it checked by a professional.
Keep in mind, it takes about 30 minutes for overheated engines to cool down enough so you can inspect what’s going on under the hood. If you check too soon, you risk serious injury.
You may wonder what would happen if you continued to drive an overheated car. You could:
- Warp your cylinder heads
- Blow a head gasket
- Bust a hose
- Damage your exhaust system
- Melt your engine components
Just play it safe, avoid expensive engine repairs, and bring your overheating car to your mechanic as soon as you can.
Contact Rick and Ray’s Auto Plaza
If you are experiencing an overheating engine in your BMW or any other car, contact us today.