How long does it take for engine to cool down?
Discover the surprising truth about engine cooling times and their crucial importance.
Modern cars have temperature gauges that display the engine temperature. If the gauge needle is at or near the midpoint, your engine is within the average temperature. In some cars, the gauge needle is never at the center. With the cooling system in perfect condition, the engine has an ideal temperature between 195°F – 200°F. Anything above that screams trouble. Once your engine exceeds 200°F, you have an overheating problem.
If you’ve ever had this problem, the logical question is: how long does it take for an engine to cool down? Generally, it takes at least 30 minutes for a car engine to cool down. The time could be longer depending on the level of overheating. Besides waiting, there isn’t much you can do to accelerate the cooling process.
Apart from the temperature gauge, a warning light warns drivers when the engine overheats. Depending on the car, the warning light could be either yellow or red. Once your engine exceeds the average temperature, we advise you to stop the car. You can’t drive an overheating vehicle. Let’s look at some factors that affect your engine and the cooling system.
How does the engine cooling system work?
As engine parts work to produce power, they generate a lot of heat. Without a cooling system, the engine would break down from severe overheating.
To stop this, manufacturers use an elaborate system to cool the engine. Well, the cooling system prevents the car from overheating and from possibly freezing. Cars use antifreeze as a coolant fluid to control heat and avoid freezing. The cooling system consists of components like the radiator, thermostat, water pump, and radiator cooling fan. More elements form the cooling system, and they help keep the engine at an ideal temperature.
Cars have coolant lines around the engine cylinders and through the cylinder heads. These coolant lines, as you can guess, carry coolant fluid/antifreeze. The antifreeze keeps the engine at an average operational temperature.
After running around the engine, the coolant circulates through the radiator. If you are wondering about the question “what does a radiator do in a car“, the radiator also has tubes through which the coolant passes. As the coolant passes, the radiator fan blows air to help cool the coolant in the lines.
The water pump works to pressurize the coolant and keep the cooling system in shape. As for the thermostat, it serves as a temperature regulator. The thermostat also opens and closes to allow coolant from the engine into the radiator. After getting to the radiator, the coolant becomes cool before it recirculates to the engine.
How long do I wait for my car’s engine to cool down?
As we already said, it takes a minimum of 30 minutes for an engine to cool down. If your car is overheating and you need to check under the hood, you should let the engine cool down first.
The car gets hot after running, and you can burn your skin when it’s hot. Even the radiator is off-limits when the engine is still hot. If you attempt to open the radiator cap while the engine is overheating, you’ll get splashed with hot coolant fluid.
What to do if my engine overheats
Engine overheating is quite common and can happen to anyone anywhere. You could be driving randomly and then start hearing a ticking or thumping noise. In difficult situations, you can see steam coming from the hood.
What do you do? The very first step is to find a safe spot and pull over. If you have your AC and other electronics on, turn them off. Next, step out of the car and try to diagnose what is causing the overheating.
Notice how we haven’t mentioned opening the hood yet. Don’t be in a hurry to open the hood because there might be hot steam under it. Let the car rest before you open the hood to cool the engine.
As you wait, keep monitoring the temperature gauge. After about 30 minutes, you can carefully open the radiator cap and check around the system. If you can’t find what is causing your engine to overheat, you might want to call a friend for help.
Next, you can call a tow truck to move your car to the mechanic. If that isn’t an option in your situation, you can restart the engine. Before you restart the vehicle, the engine should cool enough for the temperature gauge to return to normal.
As you drive, keep monitoring the temperature gauge. Once it starts warning you of high temperature again, stop the car. Let the engine cool down, and the gauge should return to normal before you start driving again.
What causes the engine to overheat?
Many things can cause your engine to overheat. In most cases, the problem is related to the cooling system. Each cooling system component has unique functions, and if any element gets faulty, your engine overheats.
Here are some common causes of engine overheating;
Low or leaking coolant
Coolant fluid is vital in keeping the entire engine cool. Now, imagine what happens when there isn’t enough coolant in the system. Exactly, the engine overheats.
The good thing about the low coolant problem is that you can quickly fix it by topping coolant fluid. However, leaking coolant lines might not be easy to fix.
You can diagnose a leaking coolant issue by looking under your car after driving. If your coolant leaks, you’ll find wet patches on the ground. Also, make sure to use the correct 50/50 coolant and water mixture.
Faulty water pump
The water pump mainly acts as a pressurizer to keep the coolant flowing. As one of the main water pump failure symptoms, the cooling fluid can’t pass through the engine. It’s a vital component to keep the coolant pressure proper and distribute the liquid through the cooling lines.
Broken radiator fan
We briefly discussed how the radiator fan cools coolant in the radiator. The coolant fluid in the radiator is hot from the engine, and it cools in the radiator. If your radiator fan breaks, the coolant can not cool down for recirculation. As a result, hot coolant from the radiator returns to the engine. That sounds like a recipe for overheating.
Besides the causes we listed above, engine overheating can arise from broken belts, a faulty thermostat, a blown gasket head, and more.
What determines your engine cooling time?
The primary determinant of your engine cooling time is the overheating cause. We’ve looked at the various problems that can cause overheating, and they are not equal. Some causes are more severe than others.
Supposing the cause of your engine overheating is a low coolant level, it wouldn’t take much time for the engine to cool once you add coolant. If the overheating cause happens to be a faulty radiator, it might take longer for the engine to cool.
A faulty radiator is a much more severe problem. Coolant cools off in the radiator, but with a defective radiator, the coolant can boil instead. An engine with a defective radiator problem will likely take more time to cool than an engine with a low coolant level.
Can I pour water on my engine to cool it down?
You can’t pour water on your engine to cool it down. While it might sound like a quick fix, it causes more harm than good. The last you want is a terrible engine.
Here’s what can happen when you pour cold water on a hot engine. Some manufacturers build engine cylinder blocks with cast iron, while others use aluminum. If you pour cold water on an engine with a cast iron cylinder block, the block can develop cracks.
The difference in temperature between the hot engine and the cold water is responsible for possible cracks. Many new cars have aluminum cylinder blocks, and their blocks might not be affected by water. You can never be too sure, so it’s better to take precautions and protect your engine.
What can I do to cool my engine down?
When you’re driving, and you notice the temperature gauge or the engine temperature light, do not panic. Also, don’t keep moving. Engine overheating is severe, and you can cause further damage if you keep driving.
Turn off your air conditioner to reduce strain on the engine. Also, put the car in park or neutral mode. Then, give the car a few light revs to get the radiator fan and water pump working.
The next thing you should do is to find a safe spot and park the car. Then, you wait. That’s the easiest way to cool the engine. We advise that you open the hood and let the vehicle sit for at least 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, the car could still be hot. Everything depends on how much the engine is overheating. The solution is that you wait for more time.
Once the engine cools, you can open the radiator cap without getting splashed with hot coolant. If your coolant is low, add more to accelerate the cooling process.
In most cases, you need about 30 minutes to cool an engine. After the engine cools, take precautions while handling the engine. Use a towel to shield your hand because the parts under the hood might still be hot. Avoid handling the engine while it’s hot to prevent any hazards.