Common Reasons a Car Overheats in Stop & Go Traffic - Service Questions serving Sacramento, CA

When the BOXER® engine in your Subaru is running, it produces an incredible amount of heat. If the heat isn't being effectively removed by the cooling system, the engine can suffer major damage. Generally, an overheating engine can begin to overheat at any time. However, there is something peculiar that can happen from time to time: an engine can begin overheat when you're sitting still at a stoplight or in stop-and-go traffic, but be fine once you start moving again. This is still a serious issue, and your Subaru will need to be inspected and repaired. If this is happening to you, start by turning off the engine as soon as you can safely do so. Then, have your vehicle towed to an authorized Subaru service center. The technicians will inspect the cooling system, and will often find that the problem is one of these three things.


3. Low or Contaminated Coolant

The coolant is the lifeblood of your vehicle's cooling system. It's responsible for dissipating much of the excess heat generated by the engine. So, if there's not enough coolant in the system, or if the coolant has been contaminated, it won't be able to do its job as well.

Learn what may be causing your engine to overheat while in traffic. 
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2. A Bad Thermostat

The thermostat is what tells the cooling system to start going. When your engine is warming up, it doesn't need to be cooled, so the thermostat valve will be closed. Once the engine reaches operating temperature, the valve will open so that coolant begins flowing through the system. If the thermostat has failed or been damaged, it may not open the valve, even when the engine has reached operating temperature. If you're sitting in traffic or at a light when the engine reaches operating temperature, the gauge may begin to creep towards the red.


1. A Broken Radiator Fan

While both of the previous problems can show up when your car is idling, they may persist once you start moving again. If your car begins to overheat when idling, but the temperature gauge moves back down once you get going, it's most likely due to a broken radiator fan.

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When the coolant goes to the radiator, it's spread over a large surface area to cool it down. Airflow further cools it before it returns to the engine. When you're driving, the natural airflow does the trick. However, when your car is sitting still, the radiator fan should kick in, keeping the air moving over the radiator to help cool down the coolant.

If the fan isn't working, the engine will begin to overheat until more air flows over it. There are many potential reasons a radiator fan may have stopped working: it may have sustained physical damage, it could have a failed motor, it could have electrical issues, or it could even be blocked by a stray piece of debris. In any case, it will need to be inspected and repaired by expert technicians.

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Shingle Springs Subaru

4045 Wild Chaparral Dr
Directions Shingle Springs, CA 95682

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