Reasons Why Your Toyota May Overheat When Idling Around - Service Research at Capitol Toyota

At Capitol Toyota, we're proud to do business Your Way on the Parkway, and that means providing good information. Get to know your vehicle a bit better in this article about why a car overheats when idling or check out other articles that our authorized Toyota dealership service center has put together. If you have any questions, please give us a call or stop by in person to speak with one of our expert service advisers.

Coolant overflow containers like this one make it easy to see how much antifreeze is in the system 

5. Coolant Level

As you can imagine, the internal combustion engine makes a lot of heat. That's why they're equipped with cooling systems that circulate liquid coolant and keep the metal engine at a safe temperature. If the coolant level is low, expired, or the wrong type, you may have overheating problems in your vehicle. Keep up with recommended maintenance at an authorized dealership and check the coolant level regularly. Most modern cars have a coolant container that you can simply look at to determine the coolant level. Remember, never remove the radiator cap on a vehicle that has recently been running. If you're not sure, give the radiator hose a squeeze. If it has pressure in it, don't remove the radiator cap.

Gloved hand removing car radiator cap 

4. The Coolant May Have Leaked Out

Typically, this is something that you'll notice since there's likely to be a significant puddle under your vehicle. Over time, the seams on a radiator get old, hoses don't get replaced when they should, freeze plugs let go, and important maintenance services get overlooked. Often, the result is a coolant leak. The best way to avoid this cause of an overheating car is to keep up with recommended maintenance at and authorized service center like ours at Capitol Toyota.

3. Poor Airflow

The radiator is where hot coolant goes to lose a lot of the heat it picked up in the engine, and airflow is an important part of cooling the fluid inside the radiator. When you're driving along, air will flow over the radiator just behind the vehicle's grille. However, when you stop, get stuck in traffic, or something like a plastic bag prevents air from flowing over the radiator, electric fans will kick on in a modern car to maintain airflow over the radiator. If there's a problem with these fans or the switch that automatically kicks them on, you'll notice the vehicle overheating when stopped or otherwise idling.

May Need A New Thermostat 

2. The Car May Need A New Thermostat

The cooling system for your car's engine is equipped with at least one thermostat. This is a valve inside the system that will prevent the circulation of coolant until a certain temperature on the engine side of the system is reached. Once the coolant around the engine reaches this temperature, the thermostat opens to allow the hot antifreeze to go to the radiator and the coolant that's been sitting in the radiator into the engine. If the thermostat isn't opening and closing when it should, the engine could overheat.

1. Is The Water Pump Doing Its Job?

If the water pump in your engine isn't doing its job, you'll likely notice the car overheating when idling or headed down the road. The water pump does just what you would expect by pumping coolant through the system. This pump is typically belt-driven, so giving the engine some gas may temporarily improve the cooling only for the temperature to rise when the engine returns to idle. Replacing a car's water pump is a big job, and we recommend leaving this overheating diagnosis and repair to the experts.

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    783 Auto Group Avenue
    Salem, OR 97301

    • Sales: (888) 459-7024

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Capitol Toyota

783 Auto Group Avenue Ne
Directions Salem, OR 97301

  • Sales: 503-399-1011
  • Service: 503-399-1011
  • Parts: 503-399-1011