An overheating engine is nothing to play around with or put off for later. Driving around in an engine prone to overheating can lead to some permanent, expensive damage that can't be simply patched over in many cases, but the causes of that overheating may be cheaper than you'd expect. Consider a few possible causes to at least go into the next auto repair shop with facts and haggling ability at your disposal.
Thermostat: The Cheapest Cause Of Expensive Problems
Thermostats are round devices that are used to regulate the flow of liquid through your vehicle's cooling system. It has a bulb that detects the temperature of the water, which controls whether a small amount of water is allowed to pass through the system or if the floodgates need to be fully opened for fast cooling.
A closed or clogged gasket is an obvious problem because no liquid will be able to flow, which allows your engine to get to high temperatures simply from operating normally. This is especially a problem in the summer months then temperatures are already elevated because of the outside air and sunlight heating up the entire car.
A constant flow of water isn't a good idea, either. Engine temperatures can get hot enough to boil and evaporate water, so a constant flow of water will just result in hot water moving against a hot engine. The small amount of heat absorbed and taken away from the engine isn't enough to be worth constantly hot water, although carefully adding water to the radiator of a running vehicle can help in an emergency.
In some cases, the thermostat is clogged because of debris from the radiator and the general cooling system. This can be from rust, or from a buildup of old or bad quality coolant. The thermostat could be damaged to the point of being stuck at a specific, unhelpful water flow setting, or the thermostat could be backwards if an amateur installed the component.
If you can check the thermostat yourself and don't have any mechanically-inclined friends, just suggest the problem to an auto repair professional and watch them check the thermostat with a new supply of coolant and/or water.
Bad Gaskets Ahoy!
Gaskets are inexpensive seals made of paper, paper-like materials, or rubber-like materials. They're designed to seal in water or air between two connected pieces of metal like a sort of membrane that can be flexibly sucked in or molded to fit a particular shape.
When a gasket goes bad, you get a leak. This can either result in leaking coolant, oil, or pressure of any liquids in various car systems. A bad gasket on the engine can result in misfiring because the right fuel, air, or oil mixtures aren't reaching their destinations.
Although gaskets look simple, some can reach dozens or up to a hundred dollars in some general consumer cars. Such a simple problem can be fixed by replacing a torn, deteriorated, or otherwise damaged gasket, but this assumes that you didn't ignore the overheating problems to begin with.
There are many problems that lead to overheating at higher cost points, such as leaking heat pump or a hole in the radiator. Contact an auto repair professional, watch their work, and ask for a demonstration to see if your problem is cheaper to fix than you'd imagine.
For more information, you will want to contact a company such as Felix's Auto Repair & Towing.