You don’t have to keep an eye on your temperature gauge at all times when driving, but you should at least glance at it from time to time. It will warn you when your car overheats. The moment you notice it moving into the hot territory, you should immediately find a spot to pull over and turn off the engine. Pull over at a place shaded from the Sun if possible, but if there’s none it’s okay.
When your car overheats; if you see steam coming out of the bonnet while driving, put on your hazard lights immediately and move your car to the side.
Open the car bonnet to allow the heat to disperse faster. Find a thick cloth to cover your hands when opening the bonnet. Some cars have safety latches that are positioned close to the radiator cap. If the steam is actually coming from the radiator cap, your hand could get burned.
Do NOT open your radiator pressure cap – the cap on top of the radiator. In fact, you should never open the radiator pressure cap after you’ve just turned off your car engine. If you open it while the engine is still hot, it may cause a high pressure release of steam and radiator fluid that could result in serious burns.
Take a look at your coolant reservoir tank. Your car most likely has a plastic reservoir of coolant connected to the top of the radiator. Check to see if the liquid reaches the “full” line on the side of the coolant reservoir.
If the coolant is below the proper level, fill it up with a 50/50 mix of water and coolant. If you have no coolant on hand, then you can add a bit of water, and add more coolant when you’re home. But if you’re using waterless coolant, don’t add any water.
If the radiator or cylinder head seem compromised, check for any leaks in the cooling system. If you know your stuff about cars, check for signs of leakage around the radiator, cylinder head (near the head gasket), or core plugs in the engine block.
If you’re unsure about what to do, and it’s your first time experiencing a car overheat, call your local mechanic for help.