Learn About Common Reasons a Car Overheats in Stop & Go Traffic from Carlsen Subaru

Don't underestimate the risks of driving a car with an overheating engine! Believe it or not, overheating is one of the fastest ways to utterly destroy a modern car engine. That's why gas-powered engines usually have cooling systems, which circulate coolant (AKA antifreeze) throughout the engine, drawing heat away from the engine block and diverting it to the radiator, where it dissipates as cool outside air flows across it.

If your car's cooling system develops a problem, this can cause your car to overheat. In particular, you might notice your car overheats when idling or in stop-and-go traffic. If you see the temperature warning light come on in your car, pull over and turn the engine off as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Then, speak with one of the associates at the Carlsen Subaru service department. We'll help you get your car fixed so it doesn't overheat anymore! Below, our expert service team has identified four things that might cause your car to overheat, so you can keep an eye out for them.

Learn why it's important to take engine overheating seriously from the service professionals at Carlsen Subaru.

4. Bad Thermostat

A key component of your car's cooling system is a very small one: the thermostat. Its responsible for regulating the flow of coolant through the system. It remains closed until the engine reaches its operating temperature, at which point the thermostat opens, increasing coolant flow through the system and keeping the engine at that safe temperature.

Over time, due to rust, corrosion or just simple wear-and-tear, the thermostat can become "stuck." If it's stuck open, you might notice the temperature gauge runs a little higher than it used to and the heater may not work as well -- but if the thermostat gets stuck closed, coolant won't flow and the engine will quickly start to overheat. The fix for this problem is easy and relatively inexpensive: just get a new thermostat installed by an authorised Subaru dealer.

Visit Carlsen Subaru if your vehicle begins overheating or have your vehicle towed for safety!

3. Low Coolant Level

The coolant system is perfectly sealed shut, which means no fluid should leak or evaporate out of the system. So, if your car's coolant level is low, you've almost certainly got a leak somewhere in the system. Fixing this leak is incredibly important to keep the engine from overheating. If there's too little coolant in the system, the engine will quickly overheat. A long-term fix could require replacing the radiator, thermostat housing or coolant hoses, depending on where the leak is coming from. We have special tools and dye kits that help us locate leaks at the Carlsen Subaru service department.

2. Bad Water Pump

The thermostat regulates the flow of coolant throughout the engine's cooling system, but it's the water pump that actually makes the flow of coolant possible. Over time, the internals of the water pump can wear out, causing coolant flow to cease and allowing the engine to overheat. A belt-driven water pump can also stop working if the belt or pulley that it runs off of becomes damaged. A new water pump will likely be required to keep the engine running at a safe temperature.

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1. Failed Radiator Fan

If your car starts overheating, we'll closely check the cooling system first -- but when the engine overheats can tell you even more about where exactly the problem is coming from.

For example, if your car tends to overheat in traffic, or when idling at a stoplight or a drive-thru, but the temperature falls back down to normal as you drive, you might have a failed radiator fan.

Since heat is dissipated from the cooling system by outside air flowing over the radiator, cooling performance is maintained as you drive. Your vehicle's forward motion forces air through the front grille and across the radiator, cooling the engine. But, when sitting still, the radiator fans kick on so air still flows across the radiator. If the radiator fans stop working, your car might overheat when idling. Checking the radiator fans is among the first things our technicians will check at Carlsen Subaru if your car is showing these symptoms.

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  1. Carlsen Subaru

    480 Veterans Blvd
    Redwood City, CA 94063

    • Sales: (888) 520-5916

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Carlsen Subaru

480 Veterans Blvd
Directions Redwood City, CA 94063

  • Sales: 650-365-6390
  • Service : 650-365-6390
  • Parts: 650-365-6390