Most car engines’ normal operating temperature range between 195F and 220F (90.5-104.3C). While water boils at 212F (100C), you may now assume how hot an engine could get while in operation. At this temperature of water, you can cook beef within half an hour.
Similarly, you can fry an egg at this temperature within seconds! Imagine what this temperature could do to your hands when you accidentally touch your engine without knowing how hot it is.
Most cars have dashboard temperature gauges which do not show a precise temperature reading. There are sometimes marked only as cold (C) or hot (H) on both ends of the gauge, while a normal temperature is indicated in the middle.
In this article, we will discover how hot a car engine gets and find out if it is normal or otherwise. Car engines that become hotter than normal are enough cause for alarm, you will know here what will happen if your car engine gets hotter than it normally operates.
How your car engine’s temperature gauge is read?
Starting cold engine typically takes a minimum of one minute (a couple of minutes is also ideal) before it reaches its normal operating temperature. At this temperature, the needle on the temperature gauge will point on or near the center of the gauge for most vehicles. However, in some cars, the needle may not reach the center of the gauge even if it is fully warmed (normal operating temperature).
This will indicate two things. One, your gauge is not properly calibrated, and two, your engine operates “normally” at the indicated temperature in the gauge. Which at this point is below average. The best to do is monitor when is the needle is pointing when the engine is fully warmed.
This will allow you to know what is “normal” operating temperature your engine operates. On this regard, if the needle starts to rise slowly closer to the hot mark, you can tell that there is something wrong with your cooling system.
What are the causes of “hot” engine?
These are some of the causes of an abnormally hot engine:
- When using your car’s AC in full blast and for a longer time than normal.
- Driving on an abnormally hot day.
- Stop and go driving on a hot summer day.
- Towing can increase the temperature of your engine above normal.
- Malfunctioning cooling fan of the radiator.
- Blinded, deformed, or blocked radiator fins and coils.
- Dehydration of coolant (low level) on the radiator (possible leak or inferior coolant).
- Defective radiator water pump.
- Low level of motor oil.
So, how hot could an engine get?
Since we have stated that most car engine’s normal operating temperature is within the range of 195-220F, when it becomes hotter, it could reach an astounding temperature of 260F (127C) or higher. At this point, engine oil could reach a temperature between 300-400F (147-204F).
What are the effects of driving overheated engine?
When your car’s engine run with an abnormally high temperature, these are some of the possible effects:
- Thinning of engine oil (low viscosity) which may result to inefficient lubrication.
- When oil becomes thinner, it may affect the engine block, cylinder head, and other running internal parts.
- Thinning of oil lets a very minute insulation between running parts on the engine that will cause friction. Metal to metal contact on engine parts is highly damaging to these components.
How to avoid
When your engine becomes abnormally hot while you are driving, you will notice steam or smoke emitting from your engine’s compartment. To avoid abnormally hot engine, these are the things you should do:
- It is unavoidable to drive on a hot summer day, be sure that you have enough coolant in your radiator.
- Check the radiator fan if properly operating.
- Make sure the radiator is clean from debris, deformation, and leak.
- Check also the radiator pump is properly working.
- Check air conditioning system (AC) if properly working. It should be in intermittent operation when it reaches the desired temperature inside the cabin, and vice versa.
- Check the oil level of your engine. Use oil that has a higher tolerance to high temperature.
Check out this coolant from Amazon, this has high resistance from a hot engine:
While you may struggle to find a more reliable motor oil, try the Mobil 1 94001 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil, also available from Amazon. Just check it out if it is compatible with your engine.
Knowing how hot your car engine can get will make you realize that it is nearing a dilemma. Try using the more efficient coolant and motor oil that we have advice you to use, instead of low quality and cheaper ones. This may spell the difference from an efficient engine performance.
Please send us your comments if you have any question regarding this article.