If your car recently got involved in an accident and started overheating, this guide is for you. You could be asking yourself whether the overheating is due to the crash or it’s just a coincidence. Why is your car overheating after an accident?
Car overheating after accident is usually caused by a damaged or leaking radiator. This is even more possible after a front-end crash. Other components of the cooling system that get damaged during an accident will also cause your car to overheat.
This guide delves deeper into all the possible reasons your vehicle may start to overheat after an accident and all the fixes to consider. Plus, we’ve also shared other helpful information you need to know.
Why your car overheats after an accident
It’s not uncommon for your car to start overheating after an accident. And it is usually due to damage the accident causes to the radiator and other parts of your car’s cooling system.
When your car gets in an accident, the cooling system will likely get affected. To be more precise, the radiator can get damaged or start leaking—this is a reason enough for your car to start overheating.
The chances of the radiator getting damaged are even higher if your car suffered a front-end crash or head-on collision. This is because manufacturers generally place the radiator at the front part of your car to help keep effectively keep your car temperatures under control.
This radiator placement helps provide fresh air for the heat exchange process and thus keeps your engine from overheating.
Front-end accidents will impact not only the radiator but also the cooling hoses, cooling fan, and other nearby components of the cooling system.
With this in mind, we advise you against driving your car after an accident in case you notice any fluid leaking to the ground. The fluids are probably coming from the cooling system, transmission, oil pan, or any other critical components.
Instead, have your car towed from the scene of accident to an auto shop for careful inspection and repair of the damaged parts. This will ensure your engine system doesn’t suffer further damages which attracts expensive repairs or even risks totaling your car!
What should you do if your car overheating after an accident
As we have advised in the previous section, if your car starts overheating after an accident, you should avoid operating it any further to prevent further damage to the engine.
Proceed to check the condition of radiator coolant in your car’s cooling system. Inspect the oil pan as well.
If your notice any leaks or damage, contact emergency services immediately.
Or you can have your car towed to a collisions or body auto shop for careful inspection as to what could be causing the damage.
While some car owners believe that replacing the radiator may help resolve the issue following a front-end collision, this doesn’t always work.
As Michael Parra of YourMechanic, with 27 years of auto repair experience, explains, the mounting points are most likely out of alignment at this point due to potentially bent radiator support.
This leaves you with only one option—take your car to an experienced body shop to have your car’s front end correctly fixed so that your car continues working as designed/ intended.
Why your car overheats after a front-end accident
We’ve already mentioned severally in the previous section that a crash involving the front end of your car usually results in damage to the radiator or any other parts of the cooling system.
The front end of your car is where the cooling system is positioned, making it highly vulnerable to impacts resulting from a crash. The radiator can easily get bent or damaged or a hose connected to the radiator may have broken.
If the coolant reservoir is also empty or the coolant is low, that’s another sign of a damaged radiator.
In such a case, your best bet is to have your car towed to a body shop for damaged cooling system and repairs.
In some cases, your car may not start overheating after the front-end collision. This means you can drive it to your body shop yourself without using the towing services.
Check out this forum discussion about a motorist whose Camry got involved in a front end accident and started overheating, and all the possible suggestions he got from other motorists as well as the body shop.
Why your car overheats after rear-end accident
If your car starts overheating after you got rear-ended, you may also be curious why this is happening.
Most of the time, motorists tend to rule out damage to the cooling system and a rear-end accident since the cooling system sits at the very front end of the vehicle
Unfortunately, this type of accident also can affect your car’s front-end components—including the radiator and other parts of the cooling system—increasing the chances of overheating.
Your car will likely suffer a cracked radiator, though this will heavily depend on the type of car you have and how it’s constructed. If it features little room between the engine front end and the radiator, then a crack is likely to happen and make your car overheat!
The amount of force that gets transferred to your car in a rear-end accident is enough to cause destruction to any part of your car, even in a low-impact incident.
This force behaves like a ripple effect that gets easily carried forward through your car, causing damage even in the places you least expect.
We came across this motorist whose car started overheating after another car rear-ended him. After diagnosis, it turned out his car’s lower radiator hose was cracked, causing the overheating problem.
How to know if your radiator is damaged after an accident
Your car radiator plays a crucial role in your car’s cooling system. So, if you notice your car overheating, it’s highly likely the problem is tied to the radiator. Also, if your car is exhibiting cooling issues, it can be traced back to the radiator.
But how do you tell for sure that your radiator is damaged after an accident?
Here are some surefire signs that your radiator is damaged:
- Overheating: This is the key sign of a problematic radiator. The radiator’s primary function is to cool your car engine, so if it ceases to work properly, it can cause the temperature to read excessively high temperatures.
- Radiator fluid color change: Healthy coolant in the radiator should be bright red, green, or yellow. If you shine a flashlight in the reservoir and notice rusty color or if the coolant appears milkshake-like and thick, then the radiator could be failing.
- Coolant leak: Do you notice any leaking fluid under your car that’s orange, red, or green in color? If yes, that’s the coolant and could be a sign that your radiator is ailing. However, a coolant leak doesn’t always mean the radiator is bad, so you should have a professional check its condition.
- Low coolant level: Low levels of coolant in the reservoir could be another sign that the radiator is in bad condition.
- Heater malfunctioning: If your car doesn’t seem to give out hot air on tuning the heater on, that’s another sign that you could be having an issue with the radiator. When the radiator is functioning properly, hot air should come out of the vents as hot coolant passes through it (the radiator).
- Trouble shifting gears: Though less common, issues with shifting gears could also be a sign of a bad radiator as fluid from integrated transmission cooler gets tainted with the coolant.
If you recently got involved in a car accident, whether involving the front or rear end of your car, and you don’t see any signs of damage, don’t get comfortable. The damages may take some time before it shows.
We advise you to keep an eye on your car for the next few weeks. Look out for the above signs of a bad radiator to help you catch it early enough and do the necessary repairs before it can start causing overheating as well as a cascade of other issues in your car.
Can a crash cause coolant leak?
An accident can cause coolant leak, which will then result in your car-overheating-after-accident scenario.
If you get involved in a crash and your radiator develops a crack or some other form of damage, it may start leaking the coolant or some of the hoses in your coolant reservoir might have loosened up and caused the leak.
One of the symptoms of a coolant leak is overheating engine. As the coolant leaks, air takes its place. Since air is easily compressible, the boiling point goes down, allowing some coolant to flash into steam form.
Air and steam are good insulators and will keep the cooling system from getting rid of excess heat in your engine system.
If you can see visible fluid leak under your car (look for a puddle of red, green, or blue fluid), then it’s another sign that the crash resulted in a coolant leak.
Note that the coolant leak can happen regardless of how small the impact of collision was. Case in point, this Redditor shares his story of noticing a coolant puddle under his car after a low-speed collision of around 5-10mph. After diagnosis, he discovered his radiator has developed a dent.
In another Redditors case involving coolant leak after an accident, experienced motorists explain how a minor collision is capable of cracking the radiator and causing leaks.
We recommend checking your radiator carefully for the cause of the leak and having it fixed. If you can’t find the leak yourself, take in your car for diagnosis and fixing of the problem by a professional before it ruins your engine.Car overheating after an accident can be a serious problem that requires immediate attention to prevent damage to your engine. At MotorAdvices, we understand the importance of keeping your vehicle running smoothly and safely. Our website features informative articles on car overheating, including what to do after using BlueDevil to fix a head gasket leak and how to deal with overheating when there are no leaks. Our article on car overheating after using BlueDevil discusses the possible reasons for overheating and offers solutions to help you keep your engine running cool. Similarly, our article on car overheating but no leaks explains the common causes of this issue and provides tips on how to diagnose and fix the problem. Visit MotorAdvices to learn more about how to prevent overheating and keep your car running smoothly.
Don’t continue driving your car if it starts overheating! Further operating your car only risks further damage to the engine. Your car overheating is a roadside emergency and you should stop driving your car immediately and have it towed to an auto shop for diagnosis and repair.
If your radiator only needs minor to major repairs, however, you may only need to spend between $150 and $500, depending on the issue. However, radiator replacement will cost you approximately $300 to $1000. It’s best to consult your mechanic for a more precise quote as the repair costs tend to vary from one auto shop to another.
Absolutely! The amount of force exerted on your car when you get rear-ended gets carried forward through your vehicle and can cause damage to the radiator sitting in the front end of your car. If you notice overheating after rear-end accident, stop driving immediately and have a professional inspect the radiator and other cooling system components for possible damages.
Now you know why your car overheats after an accident. The issue is usually due to the accident causing a leak or damage to your radiator or other parts of the cooling system. This damage can occur regardless of whether your car is involved in a front-end or rear-end collision.
A damaged cooling system can’t keep your engine cool, leading to overheating. We advise you to off your overheating car and avoid operating it any further to prevent further damage to your vehicle engine system. Get an auto mechanic to inspect the car cooling system for damages that may be causing the overheating and fix them for you.