Why does my car overheat?

A car can overheat for several reasons, but it most often results from a lack of coolant in the radiator. Before you check your coolant level, make sure that your vehicle has had adequate time to cool down. Removing your vehicle's radiator cap at any other time could be extremely dangerous.

  • Step 1: Locate your radiator. A newer car will have a “closed” coolant system that looks like a plastic bottle with a screw-top cap. Older cars have a “non-closed” coolant system that’s identified by a radiator cap (this is usually emblazoned with a warning sticker and is easy to spot).
  • Step 2: Remove the screw-top cap or radiator cap, depending on the kind of coolant system you have.
  • Step 3: Check your fluid level. Newer cars with closed coolant systems have an easy to read level indicator on the side of the bottle. If you have an older vehicle with a non-closed system, you can determine your coolant level by looking inside after the cap’s been removed. The fluid level should be about one inch below the radiator neck.
  • Step 4: Add coolant as necessary.

If you're unsure of what type of coolant to buy, talk to someone at your local auto parts store.

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