Antifreeze or coolant is probably the most critical fluid under the hood of your vehicle as it maintains the engine’s temperature to prevent overheating. This is something that should never be missing in your vehicle’s system if you don’t want to experience dire consequences.
What Happens if There is No Coolant in Your Car?
Coolant circulates throughout the engine to sustain the suitable working temperature of the different components. Once coolant runs out while you are on the road, below are some of the things you will likely experience:
Abnormal temperature gauge or dashboard warning light
The number one sign that your vehicle is running low on coolant is a rising temperature gauge or a dashboard warning light.
Damage to different engine parts
When your vehicle lacks a cut-off feature yet you just continue to drive it, there is the possibility that you will damage some engine parts that run too hot. It will not only result to expensive repair bills as it might also lead to irreparable and permanent damage. Some parts of a vehicle that could suffer from an overheating failure are the following:
- Head gasket
- Water pump
- Cylinder head
- Piston and cylinder timing
- Crank failure
- Bent or warped connector rods
Automatic engine cut-off
If you own a modern car, this will already come equipped with the automatic engine cutoff feature. It is meant to prevent damage once the engine begins heating up because of lack of antifreeze. You cannot drive your vehicle further until it cools down.
Other signs of low or no antifreeze
Apart from issues in the mechanical engine as a result of low coolant or complete absence of it, you will also notice some other problems like lack of control on the interior heating system, a bonnet that is dangerously hot, and billowing steam. Once you notice these signs, pull over right away to prevent more damage from happening.
Modern Engines and How They Deal with Overheating and Low Coolant
If you run out of antifreeze, it won’t necessarily result to an instant damage right away as this will still depend on the type of car you are driving. In high end modern cars, the ECU or engine control unit usually features a limp-home or safe mode that lowers the risks of damage through firing cylinders in another sequence.
It means that from the inlet, the cool air will be fed to one cylinder bank at a time to allow the rest of the rack to experience a slight cool down in between firing. It gives you the chance to drive further even if you have an overheating engine, which is sometimes enough for you to get to a garage or home.
As mentioned earlier, most of the cars today also have an automatic cutoff feature meant to keep the engine protected from heat damage. It uses the thermostat of the cooling system to kill power reaching the engine once the temperature rises to a certain point. It means that you cannot restart your car until it cools down sufficiently.
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