Is Your Car Running Hot but Not Overheating?

overheating gauge, car running hot but not overheatingHow often do you look at your temperature gauge?  If you are like most drivers, our guess would be almost never.  Most drivers look at their temperature gauge so rarely that many vehicle manufacturers don’t even include temperature gauges any more but just lights that will come on if your car is either extremely cold or extremely hot.  However, if your car is running hot but not overheating, you might not know it without a gauge.

However, even if your vehicle has a temperature gauge it may not be telling you as much as you think.  Many factory temperature gauges are designed to read in the middle of the gauge over an extremely wide range of temperatures and may not tell you if you have a car running hot but not overheating.

f you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get an accurate reading of your coolant temperature, you may consider using a device that can read the exact temperature from your car’s coolant temperature sensor.  There are many options for tools can use but one of the most versatile is a BlueTooth OBD2 code reader and an app on your phone where you can read different values from each sensor, including the coolant temperature sensor.

If you find that you’ve got a car running hot but not overheating there might be a few reasons:

  • Clogged or damaged radiator
  • Low coolant level
  • Damaged water pump or thermostat
  • Overworked engine

Assuming your cooling system is working properly meaning it’s full of clean coolant and doesn’t have any damaged or clogged components, then it’s possible your cooling system just needs a little help to keep things at the right temperature.  To give your cooling system a boost, add BlueDevil Engine Cool to your coolant to give it that extra cooling capacity to keep your car from running hot.

You can find BlueDevil Engine Cool at any of our partnering local auto parts stores like:

  • AutoZone
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Bennett Auto Supply
  • CarQuest Auto Parts
  • NAPA Auto Parts
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Pep Boys
  • Fast Track
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
  • S&E Quick Lube Distributor
  • DYK Automotive
  • Fisher Auto Parts stores
  • Auto Plus Auto Parts stores
  • Hovis Auto & Truck Supply stores
  • Salvo Auto Parts
  • Advantage Auto Stores
  • Genuine Auto Parts stores
  • Bond Auto Parts stores
  • Tidewater Fleet Supply
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts
  • Any Part Auto Parts
  • Consumer Auto Parts

Pictures Provided By:

overheating_guage.jpg – By Allanswart – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link

 

56 responses to “Is Your Car Running Hot but Not Overheating?

  1. What about this scenario: so far, this has only happened on an unseasonably warm day and a colder day, the day later. I was warming up my car like I normally do in cold weather, and I probably shouldn’t have done this on the warmer day (about 55). I was in house while car was warming up; heat was on, but not full blast. I came out about a half hour later and temp gage was ridiculously high, but not on “overheat”. As soon as I got into gear and started driving, it came down to normal and I had no issues the rest of the day, with a good amount of driving. The next day I did the same thing, although I only warmed up for about 10 minutes. Again, looks like gage was getting high. I had heat on full blast. Again, I drove car and temp gage came right down to normal. Before answering, please consider that I DO normally warm my car up in the winter for long periods of time and have never had this problem.

    1. Will-

      Based on your description, the best place to start would be to check that the thermostat is functioning properly. You can test the thermostat yourself by placing it in boiling water and ensuring it is opening up at the correct temperature. Assuming your cooling system is working properly meaning it’s full of clean coolant and doesn’t have any damaged or clogged components, then it’s possible your cooling system just needs a little help to keep things at the right temperature. To give your cooling system a boost, add BlueDevil Engine Cool to your coolant to give it that extra cooling capacity to keep your car from running hot.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

    2. Cooling fans …check to see if they come on…….if not take connectors apart and make sure there clean and in good shape…..

    3. Why is my car overheating, it only overheats when the oil coolant sensor is on, as soon as I take it off the car runs perfect without any issues no smoke or anything( i take the negative charge off the battery allow the computer to reset and the car is brand new again). It also jerks and stalls when the sensor on ?

      1. Robert-

        Based on your description, we would recommend replacing the oil coolant sensor. It’s possible that a faulty sensor would send incorrect information to the vehicle’s computer system and affect engine performance. Based on the vehicle running normally with the sensor removed, a faulty sensor is likely the culprit for your issues.

        Thank you!

        -BDP

  2. Car isn’t overheating at all but the temperature hand goes all the way to hot,what is the problem and how can I solve it

    1. Pamela-

      If the temperature hand is going to the H indicator on the temperature guage, it would indicate overheating. Is the vehicle losing water/coolant? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  3. whenever i sit in traffic or a long drive thru line my car begins to overheat. when i drive off it goes back down but when i turned my car off it started smoking. what could possibly be the issue?

    1. Alexus-

      Where was the white smoke coming from? Have you noticed a loss of water/coolant? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  4. My car warms up fine. After a short drive in the city, tempreture will go up close to the red and then within seconds it will drop back down to normal. It does this every 10 minute or so. When I drive on the freeway its never does this only driving in city. I’m thinking of changing the thermostat and then flushing the radiator? Thoughts?

    1. Mike-

      Based on your description, it does sound like you are having an issue with flow, although intermittent. Checking the thermostat and flushing the cooling system would be a great place to start. A faulty thermostat and/or a contaminated cooling system could restrict circulation and cause the temperature to rise. If doing those two things doesn’t correct the issue, another component to consider would be the water pump.

      Hope this helps!

      -BDP

    2. Make sure coolant level is good……..if it’s cold out and you lose heat while idling and get heat back when your moving check fluid level……cheapest fix…

  5. My car has been losing coolant lately. The temp hand is slightly higher than usual sitting on 1/2. Usually it’s a little below that. I can’t drive it for 10 minutes before it starts steaming from under the hood because of the loss of coolant. All the time this is going on the temp hand remains at 1/2. Any ideas on what this may be?

    1. Audree-

      How quickly are you losing coolant? Typically, the temperature hand reading at the 1/2 way mark doesn’t indicate overheating and in most vehicles, actually indicates normal operating temperature. Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  6. Our radiator had a blow up in December. It got hot and spewed on the engine. We took it to a mechanic and he flushed it and refilled it. He said the coolant was like “tang” (drink). A week later we had issues with the heaert not getting hot and took it back. He fixed it and everything seemed fine. The temperature gauge then began reading at the 2/3 mark and it never went past 1/2 before. We took the vehicle to another mechanic and they flushed it again and said it was fine. Now 2 months later we are still having it read at the 2/3 mark when we have driven about 45 min and then park. After parking it will go to the 3/4 mark and back to half in a matter of 2 minutes. While driving, city and highway miles, it stays at the 1/2 mark. It USUALLY only reads a hotter temperature when we have driven for a while and then park it. The engine does not feel hot when I lift up the hood. I don’t know what to do! We are going on vacation in a month and want to be sure it will be ok. Can you help?

    1. T. Childers-

      Have you noticed a loss of water/coolant? Based on your description, it is also possible that you are getting combustion/exhaust gases pumping back into the cooling system. You can use a “Block Dye Tester” to confirm whether or not that is the case.
      BlueDevil Head Gasket Sealer would still work if your vehicle is getting combustion/exhaust gases blowing into the cooling system and creating pressure. To give yourself the best overall chance of BlueDevil working successfully, in addition to the directions, you should remove the spark plug from the cylinder with the leak; this will be the spark plug from the cylinder with the low compression reading. If you are not sure which one that is, you may pull all of the spark plugs and will notice one will have a white-crystal-like substance on it and/or may look dirty; this is the plug you should pull. Leave that plug out for the 50 minute idle in order to relieve the pressure from building up and thus allowing the product to seal properly. Be sure to follow the guidelines for the proper amount to use based on the size of your cooling system.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

      1. Thank you for the reply! There has not been loss of water/coolant since we first had it fixed. I will try your suggestions. Thank you so much!

  7. My car does not have any leaks and full on coolant. After driving for about 45min to a hour while on the highway most of the time, the temperature gauge start to show the temperature go up but only 1 bar nothing to bad or to hot but when i put it in neutral and rev my engine just a little it will go down. But 20-40min later it will do it again. I all ready had the water pump replace and radiator cap replace about 5 months ago and it just started happening last couple of weeks.

    1. Evan-

      Based on your description, it is possible that you are dealing with a slight restriction in the cooling system, causing the temp gauge to fluctuate. If you have not done so already, try checking the thermostat to make sure it is opening up at the correct temperature. You can place the thermostat in boiling water to make sure it will open up. If the thermostat seems fine, a cooling system flush would be the next recommendation. Feel free to contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 with any other questions.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  8. my car is going straight to hot after getting my alternator replaced but there is no smoke coming out but it is making this grinding noise

    1. Treazura-

      Is the vehicle overheating or is the temperature just fluctuating? Was the vehicle losing water/coolant? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  9. My vehicle’s entire engine bay (hood and all parts under the hood) becomes very hot to the touch in a short amount of time. The vehicle does NOT overheat, and temperature gauges are all normal. The vehicle did not always feel so hot to the touch after use but has for some time now. I am concerned with parts becoming damaged over time even though most are heat resistant–the amount of constant heat is unusual. I am curious if this is potentially a radiator, thermostat, or water pump issue.

    1. CJ-

      Are the fans kicking on in this short amount of time? Usually, if the thermostat and/or water pump are faulty, you will have an issue with overheating. The fact that you are saying the temp gauge is staying in the normal range lends to reason that both are working properly. Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

    2. Cj mine does the same thing in my 4.8 silverado but my 4.8 tahoe and my 5.3 z71 tahoe do not even at idle. It’s not really a concern for me except somedays my 4.8 silverado is my work office”security”.I have the same concern that you have about Parts being at a constant high temperature when I am sitting in the lot I usually raise my hood and park in the shade if not heat can be felt from 5 ft away from the vehicle with the hood closed to the point that the AC have a hard time cooling the vehicle on the inside other than that though my AC blow frigid when the hood is open and on hot days rolling down the road. It is an older truck so I was even thinking about cutting a hole in the hood and putting a louvered Hood like some 4x4s have or putting a exhaust fan on the top like you see external radiators have.

  10. 2013 2.4 liter Dodge Advenger…all new top engine heads and gaskets and thermostat a year ago. 160k miles, was running great until yesterday. When I noticed that the car is running hotter then usual. Its usually at the 1/2 way mark…its now creeping above it. I see no leaks, fluids are full. No white smoke coming from exhaust…I am frustated. Any ideas, spent so much money on this last year…Help. thanks. Jen in NJ

    1. Jen-

      Thank you for asking about your Dodge Avenger. Are you hearing the fans click on when the temperature starts to rise? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  11. Hello I’m having the puzzling issue with my car, so I have a 2007 dodge caliber that doesn’t quite over heat but my sensor comes on after driving for a long period of time. The maximum drive time is about 2hrs straight (road trips) and the CTS will come on but the temperature gauge will remain at a cool level , but the CTS coming on will cause the car to slow down to a complete stop and will not start till the car has cool down why is that ? Remind you the car doesn’t overheat

    1. Keisha-

      Thank you for asking about your Dodge Caliber. Are you hearing the fans kick on when the coolant temperature sensor light comes on? Based on your description, it may just be a faulty temperature sensor, which replacing the sensor would alleviate the issue. Feel free to contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 with any other questions.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  12. Hello,
    Last night my car was running warmer than usual- at about the 3/4 mark- and after i parked it, it started to leak quite a bit of coolant. I thought there was a hose or reservoir leak so i let it cool. Now i can not find any leaks, and my coolant is still sitting close to full. There was no steam and it never actually overheated. Any ideas on what could cause this?

    1. Caitlin-

      What kind of vehicle was it and how many miles are on it? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  13. My Hyundai i20 2009 is the fan is kicking, everything runs fine, the temp gauge is seating at half but the engine and the radiator pipes are very very hot no leaks just hot I removed the thermostat, thought it was dead but I never replaced it I biapassed it. Any idea

    1. Lannie-

      Thank you for asking about your Hyundai. Based on your description, it doesn’t seem like there is an issue. The temperature gauge sitting at about the half way mark is normal operating temperature in most vehicles. Feel free to contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 with any other questions.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  14. I have a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder i started smelling antifreeze so i parked vehicle to cool off as it was cooling off antifreeze started leaking. My gauges never showed hot. I filled it up again let it run for a few minutes and noticed there was no circulation. What can be the problem?

    1. Candie-

      Thank you for asking about your Nissan Pathfinder. Circulation can be restricted for a number of different reasons. Perhaps the thermostat is stuck closed and not allowing proper circulation. You can test the thermostat by removing it and putting it in boiling water. The water pump could also be the culprit, as its responsible for circulation. Another possibility is that jellied antifreeze or other debris could be clogging/restricting flow. Flushing the cooling system should alleviate the lack of circulation if that is the case.

      Hope this helps!

      -BDP

  15. 2002 Honda Accord. Car is running hot. Runs good for about two weeks and guauge starts rising. Changed thermostat. Flushed raditor, fans running good, coolant good. Could new radiator be needed.

    1. Wendy-

      Thank you for asking about your Honda Accord. Depending on the mileage on the vehicle, the water pump is another possibility as to why it would be running hot. A water pump that is just starting to go could not be pumping water/coolant properly but, circulate just enough to keep it from overheating immediately.

      Hope this helps!

      -BDP

  16. i have a 2005 honda civic. Recently the temperature gauge has been reading hot, all the way up passed the H. the engine however is not running hot at all. coolant levels are fine and i even have a bluetooth ODB code reader that shows the coolant temperature at around normal, nor am i getting any engine codes for the cooling system. at first i thought it might be the temperature sensor under the hood but now im just thinking the dial is stuck in the wrong position. when i turn the car off and all the other gauges including fuel drop down, the temperature one stays all the way up. any ideas or suggestions??

    1. Joseph-

      Thank you for asking about your Honda Civic. The fact that you are not getting any engine codes or warning indicators leads us to believe that it wouldn’t be a faulty temperature sensor. Have you noticed any issue with engine start up or have you experienced a lack of power? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

    1. Ross-

      It sounds like you are losing coolant very rapidly. Are you noticing any other symptoms? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

      1. My 2002 pt cruiser has been red lining the temp dial.. out of know after driving a bit the temp hand will start rising up pretty fast to the max, and il turn the heat wide open and try to hit a pot hole in case the thermostat is sticking and then the temp hand will go back to normal. This will happen at least once within a 20-30 min time frame. I’m not losing any water .. please help!

        1. Jessica-

          Thank you for asking about your PT Cruiser. Based on your description, a faulty thermostat is the likely culprit. The thermostat regulates your engine temperature. If antifreeze can’t flow through your radiator, the heat can’t disperse into the air as it should, causing the vehicle to over heat. Replacing the thermostat should solve your problem.

          Thank you!

          -BDP

  17. I got an 06 Chevy Malibu and when I drive it for a long period of time it won’t overheat but it’ll run hot and quit driving acting like it don’t wanna go anywhere.

    1. Trevion-

      Thank you for asking about your Chevy Malibu. Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  18. My 2006 Jeep has the 5.7 hemi and lately has been getting up to temp in less than 5 min of idling but never goes past normal running temp. I believe it is also sometimes causing the engine to stall if it heats too quickly. I’m thinking thermostat or a sensor any thoughts suggestions.

    1. Travis-

      Thank you for asking about your Jeep. If the thermostat was stuck closed, you would have an issue with overheating, not just getting up to normal operating temperature. Have you noticed any other symptoms? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  19. I have a 2000 Dodge Durango, and when I drive my truck after an hour or two the temperature starts to increase. It never overheats though.. It will run at a low temperature for the first hour or so.. Then it will increase to about 210. Then it starts to drive funny and it has even smoked( that stopped when I got a new radiator cap) I don’t know what’s the problem. Any suggestions?

    1. Isaiah-

      Thank you for asking about your Dodge Durango. Have you noticed a loss of water/coolant? It’s possible the thermostat is becoming stuck at times, causing the rise in temperature. You can test the thermostat to make sure it is functioning properly by placing it in boiling water and testing to see it is opening up at the proper temperature. If not, replacing the thermostat would be your best bet.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  20. Hi I have a 2013 Chevy Cruze and the tempature light comes on as soon as u start the car and the check eingine light is on… there seems to be no leak and the gauge goes to H but the car isn’t really hot like I said u can start it and it will start off saying it is hot what could this be thanks

    1. Laura-

      Thank you for asking about your Chevy Cruze. If it seems like coolant is flowing normally and you are not experiencing a leak, it may be an issue with temperature sensor being faulty. If coolant flow seems restricted, some possibilities as to why it would overheat are a faulty thermostat, water pump going bad or a clog in the cooling system.

      Hope this helps!

      -BDP

  21. I have a 2005 Honda Accord hybrid and it stalled out and when I press the gas the whole car looses power and won’t go and jerks and it’s only happened in weather over 105 degrees but the temperature gauge is not going up. What is wrong?

    1. Jeffrey-

      Thank you for asking about your Honda Accord. Have you noticed a loss of water/coolant? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  22. I have a 01 Honda Accord V6 EX or LX Sedan. My cars temperature gauge (while driving) goes down to about 1/4 but then when i stop or go idle, the temperature gauge slowly goes right to the middle. Radiator fluid level is in between min and max also. And when i start my car I hear almost a bumbling noise that’s coming from the passenger side, (where i think maybe my water pump is at) behind the vents. Do you know what may be the cause?? I know a good bit about cars and i think it might be a sign or my car trying to tell me my waterpump is about to go or break very soon. Thank you so much, and i appreciate you taking the time to read my post.

    1. JD-

      Thank you for asking about your Honda Accord. Usually, if the temperature gauge shows the temp going down while driving, it is indicating the thermostat isn’t functioning properly and may be stuck open. We recommend replacing the thermostat.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

  23. Hi I have a 2011 Kia Sorento , About 98,000 Miles And Just recently my car started leaking coolant and the temperature gauge goes up all the way To the H , when I turn on the car all the coolant just falls out , do you know what this might be?? Thank you So Much!

    1. Mariana-

      Thank you for asking about your Kia Sorento. Are you able to locate where the coolant leak is coming from? With the amount of coolant it sounds like you are losing, and how quickly you are losing it, it’s possible you have a loose hose connection allowing coolant to spew out when the car is started. If you are unable to locate the leak, you may want to bring the vehicle in to a shop for an inspection.

      Thank you!

      -BDP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *