Let’s Learn About Overheating Engines

Every system in the world has its limit, engines included. Engines can get very hot during the time they’re running, which is normal. But due to a variety of factors, which will be further explained below, engines will eventually reach their breaking point and overheat. This is an important thing to know as a driver because a car primarily relies on its engine to function.

 Image from:  Car From Japan

Image from: Car From Japan

So why does a car engine overheat? Well, that’s because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (yay science!) because it’s actually impossible to convert 100% of the engine’s heat energy into mechanical energy needed to move your car. The leftover heat is what makes your engines super hot, especially when your car is running at full capacity.

But how hot do engines get? Well, you may have seen examples of metals that are placed in fires and come out glowing red. That’s how hot engines can get. Most car engines have the maximum heat capacity of approximately 121°c, which is actually the temperature of the liquid coolant. Other components such as exhaust valves can go even hotter. Some car engines can even reach 150°c to 200°c, although these temperatures can only last for a while because the engine ultimately stops working or the spark plugs starts malfunctioning.

 Image from:  Free Auto Mechanic

Image from: Free Auto Mechanic

Factors that contribute to this are towing, driving under the intense heat of the sun, and using the AC in its maximum setting. If your car is constantly overheating, it triggers the cooling system to develop extreme pressure. If that indeed happens, the coolant goes out of the pressure relief valve in the radiator cap. If the hoses, radiator cap and other components are not strong and heavy enough, they will not be able to handle the coolant’s pressure, and you’ll see a hefty chunk of money flying out for repair works. Even in a short driving distance, an overheated engine has the tendency to break important components such as internal parts, the cylinder head, or the engine block.


Fortunately, most modern cars have a dashboard gauge showing nonstop temperature reading of the engine’s coolant. The gauge provides an urgent warning when the cooling system starts to get a little too hot to handle. It may not present the exact temperature, but it has hot and cold markings on both sides and a normal temperature mark at the center. If the needle constantly moves to the hot mark, your car’s cooling system starts to act up.

 Image from:  AutoEvolution

Image from: AutoEvolution

An immediate solution for this is to stop on the side of the road for a few minutes. Then, make sure to turn off the air conditioner. What you need to turn on, however, is the heater to remove heat from the engine and transfer it somewhere else. On the other hand, if the needle is already near the actual hot marking, call or visit a professional to check your cooling system.

So what do you think about this article? Did you find it helpful? Leave a comment below!