What causes my car to overheat is a great question
To answer the question why does my car overheat we need to understand the components that make up the cooling system. The major players are the radiator, water pump, thermostat, fan, and hoses. The radiator is a heat ex-changer that coolant runs through. Small tubes with fins carry the coolant where the heat is exchanged into the air. The water pump moves the coolant from the engine block where it absorbs heat to the radiator where the heat is removed by the radiator. The thermostat has two roles, to slow the flow down and to regulate the temperature. If the coolant runs through the system too fast it cannot adequately transfer the heat to the coolant. The temperature of an engine has an effect on the efficiency of the engine. Most gasoline engines today prefer to run around 190 to 212 degrees. This makes them run strongest and most fuel efficient. The fan can be driven by belt or electric motor. It pulls air through the radiator to cool down the coolant before it is circulated back to the engine to start the process again. Hoses are the most overlooked part of the system. They are the pathway for the coolant to flow through to make this all happen. So what causes my car to overheat? If any of these components are disrupted then your car will overheat. Coolant leaks are the #1 issue, but if a fan fails there will not be enough air flow to take the heat out of the radiator, especially at stoplights or drive though windows. If the thermostat sticks it can limit the flow of coolant through the radiator and engine causing an overheating situation. A water pump can fail to move the water or it can leak coolant and cause issues. Hoses generally leak to the outside world.
If you are having a problem with the cooling system some things to consider.
When does it overheat? Only on the highway…at stops…always??
How quick does it overheat? With in a few miles or only after long drives.
This is all valuable information to help your technician narrow down the problem.
Remember always turn your car off ASAP when you discover you have an overheating issue and call a qualified car repair facility to get your car tested. NEVER open a hot cooling system! Remember it is at 200 degrees normally and that is not something to play with!