The Hot Car Checklist


Cars can overheat for a number of reasons, and in the hot summer months, it becomes much more common. There are a few things you can try to prevent this from happening if the engine temp dial is headed into the red. Keep in mind that these are not fixes, long or short term— just things to get you safely off the road. Do not drive your car if the temperature gauge goes into the red.

1. Roll down the windows and turn on the heater. This will pull heat away from the engine and vent it into the cab. The windows are so you
don’t broil — a hot car in summer is no joke.

2. Pull over and turn off the engine. If you need to drive a few blocks to find a safe spot, that’s okay, but don’t push it any further than that.

3. Wait 15 minutes. That’s how long it takes for the engine to safely cool down before you can open the hood and check for coolant. This is a great time to call a towing company. Why risk further damage to your engine when you can get the car to the shop without turning it back on?

4. Check for coolant. If you’re comfortable, open the hood (stand back, it’ll be like opening an oven) and see if your coolant reservoir is low. If
so, add coolant. Do not touch or add coolant to the radiator unless you know what you’re doing. Do not open the radiator cap— you could 
possibly get burned from hot fluid.

5. All clear is not all clear. If there’s coolant in the reservoir and the engine has been off for 15 minutes, many drivers will try to drive again. Don’t be one of them.

6. Watch for smoke, sniff for burning. Whether driving or pulled over, if at any point you see smoke appear from under the hood, pull over
and move away from the car. Like hot cars in the summer, engine fires are no joke.

7. Get to the shop. Instead of trying to fix things yourself, ignore the problem or limp the car home. Get it taken to a shop you trust instead.
If at any time your vehicle does overheat, pull over to the side of the road and call a tow truck to avoid potential engine damage and
expensive repairs.