How to Tell If Engine is Damaged from Overheating (8 Ways)

Internal combustion generate a lot of heat in your car engine. But how to tell if the engine is overheating and is on the verge of collapsing? Being stranded on the roadway waiting for a tow truck to come to your rescue is something all of us would like to avoid in our lifetime.

Therefore, knowing the symptoms of engine damage from overheating can help you stay put from actually damaging the engine. Thus, if you seek to know in detail about engine overheating causes, this guide is intended for you only. This guide will explain the possible causes of engine overheating and its symptoms.

how to tell if engine is damaged from overheating
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Also, once you read the article, you will find all the easy ways to tell if your car engine is overheated. Check out how to keep your car engine always in working condition.

Why is My Car Overheating? 7 Possible Causes of Engine Overheating

The engine is the most important and central part of a car, and ignoring the overheating issues of the engine could cost you a high expense later. Therefore, examining the situation and symptoms of engine damage from overheating would help.

For your ease, below are the 7 most common possible causes of engine overheating that you never neglect.

Cause #1: Low Coolant or No Coolant

The coolant is the primary liquid that keeps the engine cool. The whole coolant system keeps the smooth flow of coolant to continuously provide cooling to the engine. This entire process pulls out the heat from the engine, as the combustion part could reach up to 240 Degrees Celsius.

Therefore, the coolant often gets low within the time, which could cause the engine to overheat in extreme situations. Low coolant or no coolant could be one of the causes of engine overheating. If you are maintaining coolant constantly and still facing overheating issues, you must figure out where it is going.

Cause #2: Cooling System Leaks

As mentioned above, you have read the low coolant cause of engine overheating. Adding to this, an internal leakage in the coolant system or pipe could drain up the coolant. The coolant system includes a pump, Radiator, Thermostat, hoses, and gasket, which keeps the engine cool. Therefore, leakage in any part of the coolant system would cause engine overheating even after you stop the oil off.

The leakage in the cooling system would mix the coolant with different things, like your oil, and nothing will cool down as it ought to. Spots or puddles can detect leaks in the coolant system on the surface. If you spot green spots on pipes or the surface would be coolant leakage and the reason for engine overheating.

Cause #3: A Broken Water Pump

The water pump is another main cooling system component that keeps coolant traveling through the cooling system smoothly. The coolant ingests heat from the engine, and the water pump helps to flow it through hoses to the Radiator. When the Radiator sets apart heat from the coolant, the coolant transfers back to the engine, and this process keeps on running to keep the engine cool in any situation.

Although, if you are sure with coolant, no leakages, and still facing engine overheating causes, the broken or bad water pump must be the main reason for engine overheating.

Cause #4: Thermostat Failure

Like any other cooling system part, the Thermostat has an essential role in cooling the engine. The failure of the Thermostat could easily spell overheating to the engine. The Thermostat controls the coolant and helps hold the engine back from overheating.

Apart from overheating issues, irregular fluctuations in temperature are other indications of a bad thermostat.

Cause #5: Clogged or Damaged Radiator

The Radiator is a main part of the entire cooling system. It assists in pulling heat away from your engine. Hence, if anything turns out badly with the Radiator, for example, a build-up from dust particles and debris, it could become another possible cause of engine overheating.

In such a situation, your engine could undoubtedly overheat. Apart from it, sometimes any leakage or damaged radiator cap hinders extracting hot air from coolant and makes the engine overheat.

Cause #6: Head Gasket Failure

The head gasket is only the part that seals the engine’s combustion system for the proper compression of the engine power. The head gasket keeps the engine block and separates the cylinder head in simple terms. Somehow, if the head gasket blows off, it would make the coolant get into the ignition chamber, and the cooling system fills with oil. The weird it sounds, the major it causes the problem.

Consequently, the leakage in coolant or less coolant levels would be the result of this. Therefore, it is one of the reasons for engine overheating. If you detect any milky-white oil stuff anywhere in the combustion pipe, it would be due to a blown head gasket

Cause #7: Damaged Radiator Fan

As earlier discussed, the Radiator helps to extract hot air from the coolant and keeps the engine cool. It eliminates the hot air with the fins as they pull it out from the coolant, yet this process only runs with the moving car. Thus, when your car is stopped, the Radiator has a fan that starts pulling out the heat from the coolant.

The air moves across the Radiator with the fan, but if the fan is broken, your car might start to overheat even if it’s standing by. So, to cool the engine, you need to move it. Hence, a broken radiator can be one of the symptoms of engine damage from overheats.

How to Tell If Engine is Damaged from Overheating?

Car engines are built to handle temperatures up to 110 degrees celsius to easily maintain fuel economy, car performance, and emission control. Therefore, possible damage could happen to the engine if the temperature rises from a specific limit. There could also be other issues that can damage the engine from less to more extensive range, but those are sporadic cases.

If you want to detect damages, particularly from overheating, below are symptoms of engine damage from overheating. Let’s check the 8 best ways to tell if the engine is damaged from overheating.

Engine Detonation

One of the dangerous engine damage from overheating is engine detonation, also known as engine knock. It usually happens when the fuel combusts prematurely or erratically inside the cylinder chambers. With a perfect working engine, this issue ought not to occur usually.

In any case, due to the overheating problem, the engine detonation occurred. The fuel has its highest combustion state, and when fuel combusts before a particular state, it diminishes the fuel’s energy and further affects the fuel economy.

It could also put a lot of pressure on the car’s engine since the fuel’s explosion generally creates a power that pushes toward a path that is inverse to the pressure stroke of the piston. While various elements might cause detonation, overheating will generally be a typical reason.

When the engine gets heated, it makes the gasoline progressively unsteady. Overheating makes fuel immediately detonate, mainly while acting related to different factors like known sensors, nonfunctional EGR valves, and excessive carbon development.

Seals and Gaskets

Do you want to know what happens when engine overheats? Well, check the Head gaskets and seals. The cylinder heads and block are separated by Head gaskets with a seal to forestall compression loss. It also seals oil and coolant entries to hold oil and prevent the mixing of coolant and oil.

As referenced above, extremely high temperatures can cause the cylinder head to expand. Therefore, the swell head further crushed the head gasket. Eventually, any damage to the gasket could lead to compression loss among cylinders and coolant leakage issues in cylinders. All this could dangerously affect the other engine parts. This kind of car engine damage from overheating could affect the owner financially.

Engine overheating damages the head gaskets and causes various issues, and fixing it also costs more. At the same time, the seals are meant to bear the normal engine heat. Yet, overheating, the seals start to melt, break, or crack and cause leaks. It tends to raise specific oil issues.

Warped Cylinder Heads

If you are wondering how to tell if an engine is damaged from overheating, check the cylinder heads. The cylinder heads are built with Aluminum, and it usually melts with overheating. Therefore, if you keep driving an overheated car, there are high chances of warped cylinder heads. It further leads to less power, failing, and high oil-consuming issues.

Apart from the cylinder head, other parts, including sensors, belts, and wiring, could also get melted with overheating problems.

Continuing with a warped cylinder head wouldn’t adequately seal the blocks. If the problem is detected late, warped cylinder heads could further damage the head gasket and stop working. The warped cylinder head is one of the signs of the engine going bad, and the car may not function as expected.

Scuffed Pistons

Metal usually expands due to overheating situations. The car manufacturers consider this propensity while making an engine. Therefore, as long as the temperatures stay under a limit, there wouldn’t be any expansion of metals and mechanical issues. However, an overheating engine often results in metal expansions.

The piston, specifically, often encounters expansion issues from overheating. With the overheating, pistons expand and start hitting the cylinder walls while moving. Touching the walls could arise several matters, including scuffing, scratching, rubbing, or even worn patches that explicitly impact the piston’s ring.

Scraping pistons can ultimately tend to piston failure if the problem isn’t tackled immediately. Once the piston edge wears down, the gasoline moves upwards past the compression cycle. If this issue is ignored for a long time, the piston could affect the engine with severe damage, and it would be costly to get fixed.

Blown Head Gasket

The chamber heads and the engine block are the two main parts of a car engine. In Between these two parts, another component sits that is known as the head gasket. The head gasket makes a tight seal to make sure the air, oil, and coolant remain where they should.

Furthermore, it also guarantees that the pressure produced by combustion remains in the system. The Head gaskets, especially those made from Aluminum, usually experience heavy effects from overheating.

Aluminum absorbs heat and extends significantly from other metals used in engines. The expansion of the head gasket in its restricted area puts pressure, and the gasket wraps or breaks.

Indeed, a blown head gasket is one of the signs of an engine going bad. The blown head gasket tends to begin the engine coolant and oil mixups. Eventually, this coolant and oil mixup flood the engine, causing severe damage to the transmission and essential engine parts.

One of the common symptoms of engine damage from overheating in a blown head gasket is white smoke from a vehicle’s exhaust.

Cracked Engine Block

Engine overheating damage can impact the block, and you can witness cracks on the engine block. Even though the cylinder heads, head gaskets, and pistons directly impact the engine block when expanded with high temperature.

Consequently, the engine overheats for a long time, and some block areas face incredibly high temperatures and might expand and contract, which makes the cracks. A cracked engine block could make the overheating problem worse.

The cracked engine block is adequate to permit the engine’s liquid fluid to spill out of the engine, which may overheat the engine temperature, resulting in a more extensive impact on the car’s performance – the antifreeze of engine circles inside the engine block, in and around the primary engine combustion parts.

Hence, even with a small engine block crack, the cracks would worsen and expand profound enough within an engine to uncover the antifreeze passageways. It would be another engine overheating damage sign.

Burnt Exhaust Valve

An engine has at least one camshaft that opens and closes a series of valves. The engineer cylinder heads are positioned where the valves are situated by guides. Every cylinder commonly has two to four valves, contingent upon the engine’s design.

Indeed, engine overheating outcomes could likewise lead to the exhaust valves. The exhaust valves could get affected by the overheating of the engine and cause significant harm to it. Thus, as a result, these valves might stick or scrape in their guides, prompting critical compression leaks.

The issues like high operating temperatures, valve not seating correctly, and bad engine performance due to heating issues could lead to the burnt exhaust valve. So, next time you notice misfiring or rough running and check engine light flashing, it is better to take it as an indication of overheating engine damage.

Exploded Radiator and Heater Hoses

Do you ever think about what can get damaged when a car overheats? The explosion of the Radiator and hoses might be one of the overheating engine symptoms. The overheating of the engine begins a chain of certain events. With the overheating, the combustion chamber will probably become a hot spot of the engine, resulting in erratic combustion.

Consequently, the combustion will keep on rising the overheating of the engine, which will break the head gasket. This event further led to the blown head gasket permitting coolant leakage, and in the end, coolant would come to a boiling point.

The coolant at boiling point implies whenever it passes through worn old radiator hoses, it builds the tension in the Radiator and the hoses linked to the engine. Perhaps, Radiator could only handle up to a particular amount of pressure; in any case, the hose swells and probably explodes at extreme pressure levels. Even the radiators with plastic tanks carry high chances of explosion in such extreme situations.

How Hot Can an Engine Get Before Damage?

If you are wondering how hot can a car engine get before damage? If the radiator water is not at boiling point, it would be safe to run the car at 100 degrees, and it wouldn’t cause any damage to the engine. However, it is of utmost importance to keep the engine’s temperature below the boiling point of the coolant to prevent any extensive damage. Usually, the coolant starts to boil at 135 degrees Celsius, even if the radiator can’t resist the overheating situation.

In general, 75 to 105 degrees celsius is considered the average operating temperature of a car with ideal performance. Even though the temperature indicator on the dashboard doesn’t alert with this temperature. With the 80 to 90-degree Celsius temperature, the Thermostat starts functioning.

It moves the coolant fluids via the cooling part, and as the temperature rise, the radiator starts cooling down the engine. You could possess a high risk of exploding radiator and coolant if running a car over 102 degrees Celsius, and that would be symptoms of engine damage from overheating.

The answer to the question: how hot can an engine get before damage? It is simply 118 to 120 degrees Celsius. Running above 120 degrees would cause metal expansion cracks and damage the engine and cooling system.

How Long Can a Car Overheat Before Damage?

People often question, how long can an engine run hot before damage? Perhaps, it would be a little challenging to tell the exact time your engine will be a disaster due to overheating situations. As earlier mentioned, 120 degrees Celsius is a warning sign, and if the temperature rises from 120, you would immediately stop the car.

Shockingly, engine overheating is one of those issues that can promptly damage the engine in the blink of an eye. Even though automotive specialists ideally recommend not to run the engine for more than 30 to 60 seconds whenever you detect any overheating signs of the engine.

Perhaps, in the overheating situation of a car’s engine, it would be wise to pull over and turn off the engine as quickly as possible to prevent the devastating consequences that could cost you an extensive amount of dollars down the road.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Overheating Car?

The significant parts of the cooling system rarely get damaged by overheating, and cooling system fixes normally don’t cost much. Usually, the wear and tear of small parts commonly cause overheating. Therefore, decrease the overheating chances by following your car manufacturer’s manual guide, including timely service plans. These plans also include replacing the cooling system and parts at a particular time.

But If you have a damaged engine and other parts and want to know the average Cost to fix overheating car. The cost could depend upon the type and model of the car you are driving and the availability of its parts. In the majority of the cases, flushing the coolant and refilling it will probably be considered an approximate expense of $100 to $200.

To be more precise, the average cost to fix overheating car and its components are:

  • Replacing Thermostat’s approximate cost: $200 to $260
  • The average cost of radiator hose replacement: $110 to $190
  • Cost of radiator fan replacement: $300 to $420
  • The average expense of a new water pump: $400 to $550

On the contrary, with severe damage to the engine, if the head gasket breaks, is wrapped, or damaged to walls. This overheating engine repair cost of the head gasket would cost you $1300.

How to Know If Engine is Damaged from Overheating – Author’s view

In conclusion, engine overheating is serious and could be more damaging if not addressed immediately. Rather than running to a mechanic during emergencies, it is ideal to have regular maintenance, servicing, and inspection by expert mechanics. Mechanics will probably detect all possible causes of engine overheating and cooling before they occur and damage the engine to an extensive level.

However, with this guide, you must clearly understand some primary symptoms of engine damage from overheating and possible causes of an engine overheating. Yet, suppose you detect the exploded radiator and heater hoses, burnt exhaust valve, and cracked engine block. In that case, these are signs of engine going bad and the reasons for engine overheating. So, it is better to rush to the mechanic and address these issues before they entirely damage the engine.

About Jace Cuban

I am an automotive enthusiast who loves to be around cars and pickup trucks. Applying innovative car care products and installing different latest car accessories are my hobbies. Also, I love sharing my adventurous experience with car lovers.

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