By Mike Jones, President & CEO of autopom! Insurance Services, LLC
Some people are surprised to learn that their extended auto warranty excludes damage from overheating. Why is this? Because engine damage due to overheating is avoidable and is caused by the continued operation of the vehicle after the driver has been warned of the condition. All providers of this form of insurance have terms in the policy that require the owner to take reasonable steps to prevent further damage, and it is a legitimate reason for claim denial.
Nothing gets a driver’s attention and raises anxiety, like noticing the engine temperature gauge rising on the dash panel. Or, at least, it should! If driving down the road and your vehicle shows any sign of engine overheating, you should immediately find a safe place to pull over, turn off the engine and call for emergency roadside service.
Breakdowns seem to always happen at the most inconvenient times. It may be tempting to think, “I can’t be late for this important meeting…I can make it… just a little further… I’m almost there.” Don’t do it! Please don’t risk it! Do not ignore this critical signal from your vehicle. In some models, a red light will illuminate or flash, indicating engine overheating. Overheating is a serious mechanical issue and can cause catastrophic engine failure if allowed to continue. Your engine can seize! Depending on your make and model, a replacement engine can cost thousands of dollars! For this reason, it is essential not to delay pulling over.
If you see the check engine light come on:
- Pull over immediately (as soon as you can do so safely)
- Shut the car off and call for a tow truck
- Even if the vehicle has cooled down, do not drive the car one block further because you will risk catastrophic damage to the engine.
- Have the vehicle towed to the repair facility.
What Causes an Overheating Engine?
An overheating engine can be caused by anything that decreases the cooling system’s ability to absorb, transport, and dissipate the heat buildup properly. Here are some issues that may cause the engine to overheat:
- Blocked Coolant Passages
- Cooling System Leaks
- Faulty Radiator/Water Pump
- Bad Thermostat/Radiator Fan
- Worn/Broken Hoses
- Loose or Broken Belt
- Low Oil Level
If you follow this article’s advice, you will most likely not incur severe damage to your engine from overheating. Most component failures that cause overheating are relatively inexpensive to repair if care is taken to prevent further damage to the vehicle.
For example, a water pump failure is a typical cause of engine overheating. This type of repair for a 2018 Honda Civic typically ranges from $640 to $735 in Orange County, CA (estimate provided by RepairPal.com). This claim would almost certainly be covered by an extended warranty or vehicle protection plan if the owner pulled over at the first sign of overheating and called for a tow truck, thereby preventing further damage.
However, suppose the owner continued to drive, causing overheating and subsequently causing consequential engine damage. In that case, the cost to fix the car now can range anywhere from a few thousand to several thousand dollars. The vehicle owner would likely have to pay the entire bill out-of-pocket!
A Vehicle Protection Plan from your local credit union or a reputable provider like autopom! can be extremely helpful in this situation by providing emergency roadside services, towing, and rental car assistance. In addition, it will pay for the repair of any covered component that caused the problem, such as a failed water pump, thermostat, or radiator fan motor. However, a vehicle protection plan will not pay for damage to the engine caused by a driver that ignored the warning signals and continued driving the vehicle causing overheating and consequential damage to other engine parts.
A Vehicle Protection Plan can minimize the pain and inconvenience of an overheating engine or any unexpected mechanical or electrical failure of your vehicle. autopom! ’s plans provide automotive peace of mind all year long and are accepted at most ASE-certified repair facilities nationwide. We recommend using one of our trusted and highly-rated partner repair facilities. You can locate one near you at Repairpal.com/autopom.
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