Most cars run by burning fuel or converting electricity. Either way, your vehicle is going to have a very hot engine temperature when it’s running. It takes up to an hour, sometimes more, for the engine to cool down to the outside temperature.
So, what is the normal engine temperature for a car? Depending on the vehicle, the normal engine temperature ranges from 195 to 220 degrees F (90.5 to 104.4 C). If your engine is too cold, it could have problems starting up. On the other hand, excessively hot engines could cause smoking that leads to fires.
Throughout this article, you’ll learn the following information about car engine temperatures:
- What factors contribute to a car’s engine temperature?
- What are the dangers of an incorrect temperature?
- How can you cool off your car engine?
What Impacts a Car’s Engine Temperature?
In short, a car engine works by firing off small explosions to propel the vehicle. Fortunately, internal combustion is controlled by the vehicle, so you don’t have to worry about it causing a fire or overheating.
However, you have to maintain the car regularly if you want to prevent anything bad from happening.
Here are the main five reasons that the temperature of your car’s engine could increase or decrease over time:
- If you don’t have enough coolant in your car, it could start to overheat. Coolant is used to reduce and maintain the temperature of the engine. When it’s working properly, you should be able to drive without the hood getting too hot, and without smoking or fire any time soon. Coolant fluid should be replaced every 30,000 miles.
- A broken or malfunctioning radiator could be the culprit of a hot engine as well. The aforementioned coolant fluid goes into the radiator of your car, but it can’t work properly if there’s a crack or a missing cap. The radiator is often thought to be the single most important component of temperature control in a car.
- The outside temperature is another impactful factor. If it’s freezing outside, your engine might take a while to start. On the other hand, hot external temperatures can cause an old engine to overheat quickly. Once your car gets running for a few minutes, the engine should heat up to a normal temperature.
- When the oil level is low in your car, it can cause problems very quickly. Oil is used to lubricate your engine, preventing friction from increasing the temperature. Without enough oil, your car starts to overheat. Even if you have enough oil, it can be tough to use it as a lubricant if it’s old and starting to thicken.
- Finally, the water pump in your car is just as important for temperature control as any other component on the list. It’s designed to push coolant throughout the engine block. Without a properly functioning water pump, your car could have perfect coolant and still have overheating issues.
As you can see, these five factors are very influential. That being said, there are plenty of other parts in your car that affect the temperature. For example, hoses, thermostats, belts, fans, and leaks can all increase or decrease it. Check the article below for more information about engine overheating.
It’s safe to say that most engines have the tendency to overheat rather than freeze. With so many moving parts, it’s easy to see why one small mechanical issue can grow into a huge problem very quickly.
What Are the Dangers of a Cold or Hot Car Engine?
Car engines are prone to temperature changes when they’re not taken care of. It’s possible for a new vehicle to have a worse engine condition than a very old vehicle does. Maintaining fluids and other components is only half of the battle.
You should always make a point to drive efficiently. Rather than slamming on the gas to accelerate (causing a surge of internal combustion and oil usage) and smashing the brakes (wearing down the brake pads and fluid), take it slow.
There are numerous dangers involved in having a car engine that too hot or cold. Here are a few examples of each:
Problems with a Cold Engine
If your car engine is cold, it could take a while to start it. Unfortunately, freezing temperatures have been known to ruin car batteries.
The good news is that you can stop this from happening by regularly operating your vehicle when it’s cold outside. You don’t have to drive it every night, but try to drive around the block once a day to keep the engine warm.
The real problems show up when you neglect your car in freezing temperatures for multiple days in a row. Since it doesn’t have anything to keep it warm, your car could have burst hoses, broken belts, and a malfunctioning battery when you start it up.
Problems with a Hot Engine
As mentioned above, cars are much more likely to overheat than freeze. Fluids might seem simple and inexpensive, but they’re actually some of the most important components of owning a car.
If you don’t change coolant, oil, or transmission fluid on schedule, your car’s engine will undoubtedly overheat at some point. Also, keep an eye on the hoses and belts to see if there are any cracks.
All in all, an overheating car can be quite scary to deal with, especially if you’re on the highway. For more information on how to handle such a situation, check out the next section.
How to Cool Down a Car Engine
If you don’t know what you’re doing, a smoking car engine will be terrifying to deal with. Thousands of questions and concerns race through your head, and there’s no exit nearby. What do you do?
The next time you experience an overheating car engine, following these steps:
- Turn off the air conditioner and the radio. Your air conditioner draws power, causing your car to overheat even more. The radio is just a bit distracting during this time of stress.
- Turn on your hazard lights. Any seemingly irrational movements that you make will be justified when other drivers see that you’re in trouble.
- Pull off to the side of the road or move to the slow lane. These areas are much safer for you if you have to stop the car for a fire or a smoking engine.
- Turn off the vehicle as soon as possible. It’ll start to become much warmer inside due to the overheating engine. Don’t panic, just find the closest area that’s safe to stop the engine.
- Get out of the vehicle. You don’t want to be stuck inside if it starts to smoke. If the hood isn’t too hot, you can lift it after about two or three minutes of the engine being turned off.
- Call for a towing vehicle. Don’t try to drive the vehicle! This can cause another overheating situation, or worse. Repetitive overheating can total your car.
- Once you’ve assessed the situation, consider what needs to be fixed. It could be as simple as replacing coolant, changing the oil, or putting on a new cap on the radiator.
The average temperature of a car might seem high, but it’s necessary to maintain the internal combustion process. Remember that you can properly maintain your vehicle to never deal with an overheated engine.
Regularly replace fluids, check the condition of your hoses and belts, and don’t forget to have annual checkups on your radiator, transmission, and engine block.
If you happen to have an overheated engine while you’re driving, do your best to stop as soon as you safely can. The longer you drive, the more severe the damage can be to your engine.
- How to Check the Coolant Level and Add It Like a Pro
- Best Car Antifreeze and Coolants
- Signs of a Bad Water Pump
- Car Oil Levels Check — The Why, When, and How