An Overheating Overview
Have you ever had this problem with your vehicle?
Your car is starting to run a little hot. You don't want to be stranded by the side of the road with steam coming out of your ears and the hood. What should you do?
I'd say take it to a professional repair shop and let them handle it, but the cost of diagnosis alone could be enough to give you a full head of steam without even opening the radiator. Instead, let's do some under-cover, err, under-hood detective work ourselves and save the $50.00…$60.00…$75.00 an hour most repair shops would charge to run the same tests.
First, either clean the engine yourself or have it done professionally. Too much grease, oil and dirt can hide leaks and keep cooling air from the engine. Inspect the radiator for damage and clean it of bugs and debris. Get a new radiator cap if the rubber gasket on the old one is dried-up, cracked or missing.
Check to make sure it is the correct cap for your make and model. Look into the radiator or the radiator overflow bottle. If the coolant looks rusty, flush the system and fill with 50% plain tap water and 50% ethylene glycol anti-freeze. Inspect all radiator and radiator hoses and replace any with leaks, cracks or soft spots. Also tighten all hose clamps.
Check all engine belts for excessive wear or cracks, especially the V-ribbed serpentine belt which operates many of the engine's hangons. If the belt grooves show excessive cracks or if pieces have actually been "chunked" off, replace them. There you have it. The basic repair shop procedures for finding and repairing most over-heating problems.