How to skillfully manage and drive a car that is overheating
First of all, it is not advisable to drive a car with overheating engine but there might be situations where it becomes necessary to drive away from a location where the vehicle overheated. Severe overheating can damage an engine within a very short period of time. This article will be brief and straight to the point.
Below are steps to take in order to drive a car with an overheating engine:
Fill the cooling system with coolant to the maximum mark. Even if the cooling system has a large leak, fill it with coolant.
If you can, wait until after the sun goes down and the weather becomes cooler before you drive the car.
Start the car, turn off the air conditioner and wind windows down.
Turn ON the heat and set fan to the highest speed. How this helps is; same coolant that goes to the radiator is also routed through the heater core that provides heat to the cabin when it is needed. The full blast of the fan quickly removes heat from the heater core.
Direct the air vents away from you and direct them towards the window so that the hot air coming from the engine can quickly leave the cabin of the car.
Turn OFF everything that can serve as additional load on the engine. This includes electrical loads like heated seats, high power audio amplifiers, inverters plugged into the cigarette port, extra lights and so on. The impact of this might be very minimal though.
Begin to drive, making sure that you do not press on the gas pedal continously. You need to drive in a way that is similar to when you want to do hypermiling. Give the car a short burst of gas so that it accelerates quickly then make use of coasting technique. When coasting, after giving the car a short burst of gas, you will remove your foot from the throttle and allow the car to glide on its own until when you need to throttle it again in a short burst to keep moving.
Make less use of the brake pedal and rely more on engine braking. This is because braking wastes energy as the energy the car is supposed to use to drive is wasted as heat energy at the brakes. Note that you need to use the brakes when it is necessary to do so.
Do not put the transmission in neutral all the time in an attempt to make the engine run cooler. You may use the neutral gear if you have a long descent that will make the car gain motion.
Check the temperature Guage very frequently and stop as soon as the Guage passes the normal temperature mark. Make sure that you park in a safe location where you won't be too close to passing vehicles and also not in a place that is not secure.
If you are skillful in driving, utilize an opportunity to draft behind a big vehicle. There is actually a driving technique called drafting which is also used for hypermiling. Drafting makes the car encounter less air resistance and make the car to require less effort to keep in motion. Be careful with drafting because to take advantage of drafting, the car needs to be close to the vehicle that is at the front so that it will be in the region of vacuum created by the vehicle at the front. That vehicle can brake suddenly, so be at alert and make good use of your reflex.
Stop at intervals to refill the coolant. Please, do not open the radiator or expansion tank cover until the engine has cooled considerably and the pressure in the cooling system has come down. Do not add coolant to a very hot engine as this can damage the head gasket or crack the cylinder head due to sudden cooling.
While waiting for engine to cool, you may place the container that contains the coolant on the engine to warm the coolant.
Use water as coolant until you fix the overheating. This is because water removes heat faster than ethylene glycol which coolant contains but water does not have some other protective properties which the cooling system needs. Example is rust inhibition.
If the cause of overheat is an inoperative electrical fan or fan that is malfunctioning or intermittent, try to disconnect the signal wire (not the power) of the cooling fan module to make the fan run at the highest possible speed. Even the additional air convection as a result of high cooling fan speed will aid in cooling down the engine block.
Do not drive the car for too long and over a very long distance. These techniques are meant to take you to a safe location where you should fix the overheating condition as soon as possible.
I hope these techniques helps you to preserve your engine and take you to a safe location when the car's engine is overheating.