Is my car overheating?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1989

Dear Tom and Ray:

I own a 1983 Ford LTD that I would like to keep as long as I can. It has one big fault. I dread driving this car in very hot weather, because after several stops, the temperature light will be on when I restart the car. According to my mechanic, the car has enough coolant, the thermostat is alright, and he now says "It's the nature of the beast." What do you think?

TOM: The question you don't answer for us is whether the light goes out right after you restart the car. In very hot weather, it's not unusual for a car to get very hot right after you turn it off. That's because when you turn the engine off, the cooling system shuts down too. If you stopped at the Post Office on a 90 degree day to mail this letter to us, the engine could be much hotter when you came out then when you went in.

RAY: If the light goes right out, it's probably just the extreme outside temperature, but it could be an early sign that your cooling system is getting blocked up. If it only happens on very hot days, and if the light goes right out, your mechanic is probably right.

TOM: If the light does not go off right away, however, this beast of a mechanic is leading you down the garden path. Regular overheating will do serious damage to your LTD.

RAY: If the light is staying on, have another mechanic flow test the radiator, check the temperature sending unit, the fan, the fan clutch, and the water pump for starters. And until you get it fixed, don't stop to mail any more letters; especially to us!

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