Getting a Little Hot Under the Bonnet? Troubleshooting an Overheating Engine

Picture this: You’re driving your Peugeot down the motorway and see steam rolling out from under your bonnet. You glance down at your dashboard and are surprised to find that the needle on your temperature gauge has pushed its way into the dangerous red zone. Your check engine light is on as well.

What could be happening? These are often the first signs you’ll experience when your engine overheats. Sometimes all you need to do is pull off the road and let it cool down for a little bit. With an eye on the temperature gauge, you may be able to limp your way home, where you can replace the necessary coolant or car part needed to fix the issue. Other times, certain car parts are so deteriorated that your car can’t go anywhere. You might need to call for assistance to get your vehicle to a destination where repairs and replacements can be made.

No matter the situation, fixing the problem is essential. But what exactly is wrong? There could be several reasons behind an overheating engine. Here are just a few.


Reasons You’re Engine May be Overheating

The pressure cap is often one of the most common reasons an engine overheats. Over time, the gasket on a pressure cap can wear down and deteriorate. When this occurs, pressure is allowed to escape and the cooling system isn’t able to operate the way it needs to. A majority of service stations have the tools necessary to test the cap on your Peugeot and determine whether or not the cap is intact or letting out pressure.

While it might seem like a problem with the cooling system must be related to a cooling system part, this isn’t always the case. Overheating engines can be caused by other issues and Peugeot parts within the vehicle, like:


  • Plugged Radiator- When a radiator is plugged, coolant isn’t able to circulate into and out of the engine like it needs to. This results in a hotter engine. The best way to determine if this is a problem is to visit a mechanic who specializes in cleaning radiators. In many cases, a steam-cleaning of the radiator will fix the issue. In other cases, more expensive approaches must be made.


  • Collapsing Radiator Hose- The water pump creates a vacuum as it operates, placing a lot of pressure on the bottom radiator hoses. These can collapse after a while, making it difficult for fluid to circulate.


  • Late Timing- When your ignition system isn’t timed correctly, everything under the bonnet suffers. The spark plugs fire after the piston moves down instead of when they are supposed to, resulting in the engine heating up by a few degrees. While this issue alone won’t cause the engine to overheat completely, it can make problems worse when it is coupled with other issues beneath the bonnet.


  • Slipped Belt- The water pump is driven by an accessory belt, which it needs to operate correctly and circulate fluid throughout the engine and system of car parts. When this belt slips, becomes frayed or is loose, it can cause the engine to overheat because the water pump isn’t able to operate the way it needs to. Replacing this Peugeot part is the best solution for the issue.


  • Low Oil- Engine oil performs many jobs, like lubricating engine parts. However, it’s also responsible for removing 75 to 80 percent of the heat in the engine. Even being a quart low on oil can result in a dramatic increase in engine temperatures because there isn’t enough oil to remove heat from the engine. Checking your oil levels frequently is one of the best ways to ensure the engine stays as cool as possible.


What to do When Your Engine Overheats

Sometimes, no matter how dedicated you are to car maintenance, overheating engines happen. When it does, make sure you know exactly what to do.


  • Always make sure you have an extra bottle of coolant with you, as well as a jug of water. If your coolant is low, you can solve the problem by simply topping it off. If you don’t have enough coolant to get by, water is also a temporary solution to use. If your engine overheat and you need to put in more coolant, always wait until the engine has cooled completely before doing so. There is a lot of pressure below the radiator cap when the engine is hot. If you open it immediately, it could spray scalding coolant all over you.


  • As soon as you see the temperature gauge creeping into that dangerous red zone, turn off the air conditioner and roll down the windows. If this doesn’t seem to work, transfer some of the heat away from the engine by turning on the heater in your car full blast. If it’s during the summer, this might be uncomfortable, but it’s a lot better than being stuck on the side of the road.


  • If nothing works, pull over to the side of the motorway as safely and quickly as you can. Running the engine when it is so hot can harm it. Turning it off quickly and allowing it to cool is the best solution. Wait approximately 30 minutes until the engine has cooled completely before checking the coolant levels. If they look good, call for professional help. The issue could be with other Peugeot parts you can’t fix on the side of the road.


  • Never poor cold coolant or water into a radiator that is still hot. This can crack the engine block because of the extreme change in temperature.


  • If you’re in the middle of traffic, there are a couple of things you can do if you can’t get off the road quickly. In stopped traffic, switch the Peugeot into neutral or park and rev the engine. This helps to improve air flow and water flow in the radiator. If the traffic is stop-and-go, creep along and try not to rely too much on your brakes. They create friction, which creates more heat.


Having issues with overheating engines? Know what the possible causes are and what to do if you find yourself in a hot situation.

By GSF Car Parts