My car overheats and loses water quickly. What should I do?

Hi,

I drive a VW Polo classic, not sure what year it is, between 1997 and 1999. It tends to overheat from time to time and loses water quickly. Would you advise that I buy a coolent/antifreeze for the car? Can it do more damage to the car?

Regards
Sthembile

My car has 200000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

Experienced mechanics share their insights in answering this question :
Your car may have a leaking water pump. Try to keep the coolant level full until you can get the cooling system pressure tested to see where the leak is and get the leak repaired.

If the engine is overheated then the head and gasket may be damaged. Ensure that you do not continue to overheat the engine or damage will occur if it has not happened already.

If you need assistance in diagnosing the source of the leak, get a certified professional, such as one from YourMechanic to inspect the cooling system of your car.

How to Identify and Fix Common car Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced mechanics :

This can be caused by a number of things such as low coolant levels, a faulty thermostat, a clogged radiator or a failing coolant fan switch. As you may know the coolant fan switch helps to maintain the proper coolant temperature by turning on and off at specific temperature thresholds.
If you keep driving with an engine that`s overheating, the engine itself can be destroyed. Call a towing service to bring your VW to an authorized dealership.
If you are regularly topping off your coolant, you have a coolant leak somewhere in the system. It can be difficult to identify where the leak is coming from. Often it is best to have a professional diagnose a coolant leak, but there are a few things you can check before bringing your car into a shop.
If you see this light, you should pull over immediately and shut off the engine to allow it to cool off. If you miss the warning light, you may end up with a few of these other symptoms: Steam emanating from under the hood. A hot engine hood.
Only Use Water In The Radiator In An Emergency

If it`s really low or actually empty, you need to add fluid to your vehicle. While it`s ideal to add a 50/50 mix of coolant and water (or a pre-mixed coolant), if you absolutely have to keep driving, you can add water to the radiator to get you to your destination.

Can you top your coolant up with water? Coolant should only be topped up with water in case of an emergency when the coolant liquid level is lower than it should be. While topping up with water will help you get safely to the nearest RAC Approved Garage and identify any issues, it shouldn`t be relied upon.
That said, a severely overheating engine can cause the cylinder walls or the pistons themselves to warp, bend and deform. This will cause the perfect seal between the piston and the rest of the engine to lose integrity. Oil could be forced past the piston rings and into the engine, where it will burn the oil.
An overheating engine won`t resolve on its own, even if it seems to be fixed after you add a little coolant. It will only get worse if left unaddressed.
If the coolant level is dropping and there is no external leak evident, then the coolant is probably leaking internally, into the engine. If the car has recently overheated then this could have caused the head gasket to fail. If it has, it could be leaking coolant into the combustion chambers.
How long can a car overheat before damage occurs? It only takes 30-60 seconds of overheating for permanent damage to infiltrate a vehicle. As soon as you notice signs of overheating, you need to act. Failure to do so might result in troubles like coolant leaks, damaged radiator caps, and a faulty cooling fan.
No, you should use distilled water or better yet, de-ionized water. The reason for this is that tap water has minerals that can deform deposits inside the radiator and the cooling system passages of your engine. And over a long period of time they can lead to over-heating.
Your coolant is arguably the single most important fluid you`ll find under the hood of your car, and for a good reason: without it, your engine wouldn`t make it more than just a few minutes without suffering a catastrophic breakdown, even including irreparable damage.
Water by itself can`t do the job of antifreeze due to its lack of boiling and freezing point range and its inability to protect your vehicle`s engine. Plus, it doesn`t absorb heat as effectively. In the case of an absolute emergency, you can use water in your coolant rank.
The furthest you can drive an overheating car is about a ¼ mile before you risk irreversible engine damage. While some vehicles could still make it as far as 20 miles, we would never recommend driving very far with an overheating engine.
Water dripping from your car happens when the AC system produces condensation, which starts to drip and form a puddle when you park your car, near the back of the engine housing. If that is not where you find your car leaking, don`t panic.
Coolant Leaks

Oftentimes when the thermostat fails, it remains in its closed position. As the engine overheats, coolant will overflow out of the thermostat housing. This means that coolant leaking out of your engine could be a sign that your thermostat has gone bad.

If your car is overheating, you should definitely not drive it. This could be due to several factors, including low coolant levels or a faulty cooling system. Driving an overheated car puts additional strain on the engine, leading to further damage and costly repairs down the road.
To ensure the engine stays at an optimal operating temperature, your car relies on a fluid called antifreeze, or engine coolant. Driving with low coolant could let your engine get too hot, which usually spells trouble for your engine, your vehicle, and your journey!
If your car is overheating, you should definitely not drive it. This could be due to several factors, including low coolant levels or a faulty cooling system. Driving an overheated car puts additional strain on the engine, leading to further damage and costly repairs down the road.
If your car is overheating, you should definitely not drive it. This could be due to several factors, including low coolant levels or a faulty cooling system. Driving an overheated car puts additional strain on the engine, leading to further damage and costly repairs down the road.
The average cost to fix a leaking radiator is $340, with a range between $125 and $600. Your total cost will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of repair needed, the type of radiator you have and the materials required.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

My car overheats and loses water quickly. What should I do?
ANSWER : Your car may have a leaking water pump. Try to keep the coolant level full until you can get the cooling system pressure tested to see where the leak is and get the leak repaired.

If the engine is overheated then the head and gasket may be damaged. Ensure that you do not continue to overheat the engine or damage will occur if it has not happened already.

If you need assistance in diagnosing the source of the leak, get a certified professional, such as one from YourMechanic to inspect the cooling system of your car.

Water was spilled in the trunk which soaked the car battery. Car won’t start now. Does water destroy a car battery?
ANSWER : Hi, thanks for writing in about the concern with the BMW 320i. If the battery was submerged in water then it’s completely possible for the battery to short out and die. Your friend will need to have the battery replaced. Also be sure to get all of the water out of the trunk. Have a certified technician, like one from YourMechanic, help you guys out if you need assistance with replacing the battery. Good luck.

car is overheating and leaking water and anti freeze
ANSWER : Coolant leaks can occur because of cracked hoses, leaking gaskets, faulty water pumps, or damaged radiators. When the coolant level goes low, the engine will start to overheat due to the low coolant level. I would first recommend giving the cooling system a visual look over. If it is not obvious where the coolant leak is coming from, I would recommed having the cooling system pressure tested in order to determine the leak source. If you would like to have your cooling system pressure testedcoolant is leaking inspection, consider YourMechanic, as a certified technician can come to your home or office to inspect your cooling system.

I put the wrong key in my car and a few weeks later my car just shut down and it will not start I believe it’s the computer but…
ANSWER : Hi there. What had happened is the wrong key set the security to the vehicle. This is to prevent the vehicle from starting with the wrong keys. Try removing the battery cables (+) and (-) for 13 minutes. During that time, put the original key in the ignition and turn it on. Activate everything in the car even though there is no power. Then remove the key and hook up the battery cables. The computer should have reset and reset the security. If the security is still being tripped, then I recommend seeking out a professional, such as one from Your Mechanic, to help you

My engine blew out due to my water pump leaking…i didnt have no problems with my car over heating, no steam, running weird,
ANSWER : It is quite likely that when the car was hit, the radiator may have been punctured which would have caused a lot of the coolant to leak out of the vehicle.

If the water pump failed or if it were low on coolant, there would have been overheating indications on in the dash, so you should have had some kind of warning either way that the coolant level was low.

If you’d like to get this fixed, consider YourMechanic, as one of our mobile technicians can come diagnose the leak firsthand and help address any other potential issues.

My car still overheats, I replaced water pump and thermostat, and now after water pump install it knocks bad
ANSWER : Hi there:

Trying to diagnose an overheating issue remotely is incredibly difficult. However, there are three things you can do to attempt to solve this issue. First, remove the water pump, verify it’s the right replacement part and reinstall with new gaskets. Second, flush the radiator coolant fully, as the issue could be caused by an obstruction inside the heater core or other coolant lines. Third, make sure to check all electrical connections to the radiator sensors and components. If you check and complete all three of those tasks, and you still have overheating problems, contact a professional mobile mechanic to complete a car is overheating inspection.

Replaced alternator on car 2 times each time shows it’s charging 14v let car run for a little bit then test drive and car voltage
ANSWER : There are reports that the replacement alternators will not communicate with the engine computer and will not charge correctly. I recommend using only the manufacturer approved replacement part. It can be new or remanufactured but approved for use in the vehicle. Some lower cost alternators on the aftermarket will have charging problems since they will not communicate with the ECM on the vehicle and will stop charging.

Car does not get to normal engine temperature
ANSWER : Hi there:

There could be multiple issues causing your engine to not reach normal operating temperature. However, continuing to add water instead of coolant to your motor could be very harmful; especially to cooling hoses, connections and cooling system components. The coolant should be mixed at a 50% water to coolant ratio. In order to determine why your engine overheated in the first place and why it’s temperature is low now, the best thing to do is have a professional mechanic complete an engine is leaking coolant inspection. This will allow them to inspect your cooling system for issues and recommend the right repairs.