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Why is My Car Overheating?

The most likely reasons a car would overheat are a leak in the cooling system or a malfunctioning radiator. The result is that your vehicle can’t maintain its normal temperature range between 195 and 200 degrees. If you suspect a coolant leak or radiator issue, avoid driving your car and schedule service as soon as possible!

Keeping up with your MINI vehicle’s routine services like oil changes can help keep mechanical issues at bay. Where can you find MINI service? At East Bay MINI, we offer service specials for Pleasanton-area drivers. Read below for an in-depth look at what causes a car to overheat, and what to do if if happens to you on the road in San Francisco.

What Causes a Car to Overheat?

The most obvious sign of overheating is steam or smoke pouring from your car hood. Before that happens, you may notice a sudden spike in the temperature gauge or an unusual smell coming from the engine.

What does it mean when your car overheats? You most likely have a coolant leak or radiator issue preventing your car from regulating the engine temperature. The most common causes of an overheating engine include:

  • Leaking Cooling System – This is the single most common cause of an overheating engine. The cooling system comprises of your car’s radiator, radiator hoses, a water pump, a head gasket, and a thermostat housing. If any one component breaks or cracks, the system could spring a leak. Read up on the MINI Cooper warning lights that would alert you to such issues in our guide.
  • Coolant Hose Blockage – Even without a leak in the cooling system, a blocked coolant hose can also cause overheating. This happens when trapped dirt and debris build up and inhibit proper function.
  • Improper Coolant Mixture – Your MINI requires a 50/50 water-to-coolant ratio. If that balance is off, or if you’ve used the wrong coolant for your vehicle, you risk overheating. Check with your local MINI technicians to be sure!
  • Radiator Issues – If your radiator stops working or is struggling with a blockage or a leak, you’ll see signs of overheating right away. In some cases, running your air conditioner may be what leads to overheating. Radiator issues can be expensive to fix — but they’ll only get worse if you put them off!
  • Broken Water Pump – A broken water pump is a minor fix compared to a broken radiator, but it could still cause overheating. A leak or a shifted pump shaft would prevent your water pump from delivering coolant to cool the engine.

What to Do When a Car Overheats

If you notice sure signs of overheating while driving in Oakland, don’t panic! Your car definitely needs attention, but an overheating engine is not a sign of imminent danger. Find a safe spot to pull over, and keep these points in mind:

  • Don’t open the hood right away because the extra-hot steam could cause injury. After your car has cooled for at least 30 minutes and you decide to look under the hood, do not try to remove the radiator cap. The radiator can stay hot longer and cause serious burns!
  • You can drive your car a short distance once the engine cools, but ignoring your overheating issue will just cause further damage. You can either wait for your car to cool down and drive it to the nearest Livermore MINI service center, or call a tow service.

Count on East Bay MINI for Car Emergencies!

Need to know more about the reasons a car would overheat? Our service team is happy to answer any further questions. From engine oil to MINI tires and how to jump start your MINI, our experienced technicians have you covered.

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