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How Long Does It Take a Car to Cool Down?


So, how long does it take a car to cool down? The engine uses flammable fuels during internal combustion and also operates in many revolutions in one minute. So, it will not be a surprise when the system heats up.

The question of the duration an auto takes to cool down often comes up, there could only be three main triggers to that: either you are planning to change some engine parts, change the engine oil, or you are stranded somewhere with an overheating engine.

It typically takes half an hour for a car engine to cool down enough for safe handling. Some vehicles might take slightly less or more time, but the thirty minutes is average to allow you to perform any necessary mechanical work. Trying to handle the vehicle engine, coolant, or radiator before this time elapses can lead to severe injuries. 

Please keep reading this to learn more about car engine overheating and cooling down. It is common among many drivers to try to accelerate the cooling, but you have to be keen with the methods you use. You may also want to know why your auto is heating up and probably how to control that. 

What Is the Fastest Way to Cool Down a Car?

People living in hot climates experience overheating cars more frequently than in other places. If your vehicle is overheating, there is a quick way to cool it down, but the most vital thing is to calm yourself down first. Here are quick steps to cool down your heating car. 

1. Shut the Air Conditioner

A running air conditioner makes burdens the engine and makes it strain. When you notice the temperature gauge creeping near the danger zone, immediately turn off the air conditioning. The extra work might be forcing the engine to overheat. Open the window also to allow air circulation for yourself. 


2. Put It in Neutral

The car is likely to get hotter once you shut the air conditioning. The best option now is to put the car in neutral and then give the engine some light revolutions hoping that it makes the radiator fan and water pump increase their speed that will help in cooling down the engine. 

3. Turn on the Heater

Opening the heater blows the excess heat from the engine into the car’s interior. It may not be the best option on a sunny summer day, but it helps cool the engine. 

4. Open the Hood

If everything else is not working, it is time to set your auto in a time-out. Pull the vehicle over and open the hood. Also, open the doors and windows and leave the car to cool down. It will be extremely hot, and attempting to touch it won’t be very pleasant. All it needs is time and cool air.  

Please do not try to remove the radiator cap when the vehicle is heating up. The coolant can splash out and cause severe injuries to you and anyone else around. 

How to Cool Down a Hot Car

Vehicles getting super-hot is a common occurrence, especially in summer. Luckily, there is always a way out. Use these tips to cool down your hot car.

1. Fan the Interior of the Car

First, lower the windows on the passenger side, both front and rear. Please open the door on the driver’s side and use it to fan to force some hot air out through the open windows.

You can repeat the open and close motion up to three times if necessary to expel as much heat as possible. Do not open the sunroof if you are fanning the car from sunlight.

2. Set the Air Conditioning Correctly

Once you expel some hot air, close all the doors and windows and open the air conditioning. Set it at the coldest temperature possible and set the fan power high to get more air circulation.

Turn off the recirculate feature to get as much cooler air from the outside as possible. Turning off the recirculate feature also helps cool the seats faster for any passengers riding with you.

3. Redirect the Airflow with the Lower Air Vents

Redirecting some air to the lower air vents can help cool the car faster. You can achieve this by slightly cracking the windows. The cold air from outside forces its way to the bottom, and the hot air rises. The cold air then shoots back up and forces the hot air out through the windows. 

It only becomes more effective if you direct all the airflow to the lower vents by shutting the upper vents. But, if you fear feeling sick from the heat, you can open the upper vents and angle them down as much as you can and make sure you stay comfortable.

4. Maintain the Windows Open 

Start driving your car while keeping the windows open for a few minutes to allow all the hot air to flow out. Wait until the air from the vents feels colder than the outside temperatures. 

5. Shut the Windows and Change to Recirculated Air

Consider getting more advanced air conditioning systems to set and maintain a uniform and constant temperature within your vehicle.

If the air conditioning starts to blow cold, shut all the windows and switch to recirculated air; pre-cooled mode. You may then open the upper vents and adjust them to your preference. 

Can I Drive My Car After It Overheats?

It is advisable to stop driving when you notice that your car engine is overheating. If you continue driving, you are putting your engine at risk of severe and, in some cases, permanent damage.

Car Overheating

Apart from car insurance, here are common sense tricks to save yourself when your car is overheating. 

  • Turn on the heat – you might be tempted to turn on the air conditioning, but that will only worsen the situation. Instead, turn on the heat to scatter the heat coming from the engine.
  • Pull the Car Over – find a safe place and pull over, keeping your distance from oncoming traffic, then kill the engine.
  • Call for Help -after packing the car, try to open the hood to allow excess heat to escape if you can do it yourself. An overheating engine can spew out hot steam or coolant, so be extremely careful. If you are uncomfortable performing the task, there is no harm in calling for help.
  • Look Out for Leaks- leaking coolant is a possible cause of an overheating engine. It is not necessary to have mechanical skills to identify these leaks. Check the radiator and hoses for leaking signs.
  • Fill the Coolant– if there are no leaks, you are probably low on coolant. You can refill this on your own. If you are not familiar with the task, you can check how to fill your coolant safely. 

Can I Pour Water on My Engine to Cool It Down?

While it sounds like a quick technique in case of an emergency, avoid pouring cold water on an overheated engine as much as possible. Cold water can slightly lower the engine temperature, especially on the outside, but it will pose a significant danger to your machine in the long run. 

Why It Is Wrong to Pour Water on Hot Engine

Pouring water on a hot engine will create a temperature difference between the inside of the engine. The impact of the sudden temperature difference will lead to the cracking of the engine block. 

If you are out of options but using water to cool the engine, though not advisable, you have to add the water gradually. Also, make sure that the vehicle is operating on neutral or “P.” 

What Are 10 Common Causes of Overheating?

Every car owner or driver knows that internal combustion engines produce a lot of heat while running. The problem is more dominant in hot climate regions. Here are some possible reasons for engine overheating. 

1. Defective Thermostat

The thermostat is set between the engine and the radiator, and its work is to regulate temperatures. It blocks the coolant from flowing via the engine block until it gains a sufficient temperature, which helps it attain operating temperature faster.

Car thermostat

Under normal circumstances, the thermostat will start opening from 95 to 110 degrees centigrade; it opens a valve and allows the cooling system to perform its task.

If the thermostat breaks, it blocks the much-needed coolant from flowing through the engine block and around the engine. It means that there will be nothing to retain the engine within its operating temperatures, a situation that leads to the engine overheating. 

2. Low Oil

Oil plays an essential role in lubricating moving parts within the engine of an automotive and cooling them. It means that the lubricating system will not have fluid, and this will increase friction within the engine, leading to heat build-up.

Whether it is a sealing problem in the cylinders or a gasket leak, oil can somehow flow into places where it should not or get burned during combustion resulting in a bluish tinge to the emissions.

 The heat energy accumulation could overpower the cooling system’s capacity and, at times, cause the engine to weld itself and probably seize the pistons. 

3. Head gasket failure

A defective head gasket is the primary cause of coolant loss. The head gasket is between the cylinder heads and the engine blocks and its purpose is to thermo-expand with the engine and block the coolant chambers, oil pathway, and hold cylinders apart from each other.

A decrease in fluid in the cooling system reduces the heat transfer between the engine and the coolant. If you allow this to drop below the minimum operating level, engine overheating will result in the engine.

Coolant can slowly leak into the oil depending on the part the gasket head fails and form a white suspension, usually evident on the underside of the cap if this process of water and oil curdling may result in gradual overheating of the engine.

If it fails beyond repair, the best option is to get a new head gasket fitting to your vehicle. 

4. Presence of Air in the Cooling System

Typically, the coolant pathway is blocked, but there are tiny inlets that appear with time and allow air to enter the coolant, causing air pockets within the fluid. These pockets block the free flow of coolant or stimulate a higher coolant flow when it is not sufficient to keep the car cool. 

To curb this problem, you can bleed an air-cooling system. It is a simple task, but it can save you the pressure of an overheating engine. 

5. The Wrong Coolant

Sometimes you may fail to notice any leaks or engine faults, but the car is still overheating. Suppose you have changed your coolant in the recent past; the chances are that you put the wrong fluid in your vehicle. 

The only possible way to solve this challenge is to flash out the entire coolant content and replace it with the right one. If you cannot access an automotive store near you, you can consider ordering the coolant of your choice online, according to your type of car. 

6. Defective Radiator 

The radiator transfers heat from the hot coolant to cycle back into the engine to cool it down. If your radiator is faulty, the coolant will remain hot and ineffective in cooling the engine. 

Sometimes you may have a broken radiator fan that prevents hot air from escaping, clogs or leaks in the radiator, or a defective radiator cap. All these can lead to overheating of the engine.

7. A Bad Water Pump

A water pump propels the coolant fluid to flow into the cooling system. A spoilt or worn-out water pump will result in overheating of the engine. A bump shaft or impeller vanes are some of the most common reasons for a defective water pump. At times there could be leaks too.

8. Clogged Hoses

Suppose your engine is overheating, but there are no leaks; check the hoses for clogging. It might happen that dirt from the road or sediments accidentally got into the hose. If this happens, the coolant fluid will not flow through the system well. 

9. Little or No Coolant

Driving an automotive without adequate antifreeze of coolant fluid can cause the failure of the coolant system. Check if the coolant is in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations; if not, then top up. If you do not know how to go about the task, please refer to the vehicle owner’s manual. 

low level of coolant

10. The Heater core is plugged up

A blocked or clogged heat exchanger unit can compromise coolant flow. The result of this will be overheating in the car engine. 

What Are the Signs of Car Overheating?

When your engine starts to overheat, you will see warning signs. It would be best to take prompt action immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms of overheating. 

1. Smells “Hot”

When the engine overheats, the plastic valves, rubber seals, and other resin parts holding the engine together starts melting and releases an unusual smell that some people describe as a “hot” smell.

Sometimes the coolant containing ethylene glycol may release sweet-smelling but poisonous fumes into the car. Take any unusual odor as a warning sign. 

2. Steam From the Hood

Check your engine for overheating if you notice steam flowing from below your hood. It is probably coolant at its boiling point, turning into steam. Once you see this, pull over and kill the engine. 

3. Coolant Leaks on the Ground

If you notice some coolant on the ground under your car, there is a leak in the cooling system. It is also a sign of an overheating engine causing the coolant overflow. Whichever the case, the cooling system will have insufficient coolant fluid and will be prone to overheating.

4. Temperature Gauge or Light

You should see a gauge or light on your dashboard that indicates the temperature in your engine. If there is a lot of heat in the engine, the light will flash on, or the gauge will move towards the maximum.

The work of the warning light is to detect the temperature in the coolant, meaning that if there is an excess coolant leak, you cannot rely on the warning light as there will be nothing to measure. 

5. Ticking Noise

If you hear a ticking noise from the engine, there is not enough lubricating oil for the engine parts. When the oil overheats, it loses its lubricating properties and becomes more like water than oil.

If you do not act on this promptly, the engine parts clicking against each other will wear out faster than usual. 

Final thoughts

Now that you are aware of the signs of an overheating engine, it would be best to act immediately if you notice any. If you cannot conduct the cooling-down tasks, please call for professional help. It would also help to read about preventing your car engine from overheating. 

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