Four Reasons Why Your Engine Temperature Warning Light is On

Four Reasons Why Your Engine Temperature Warning Light is On
| By: Christian Brothers Automotive

Why is My Engine Temperature Light On?

As a car owner, it's essential to keep an eye on your vehicle's dashboard warning lights for obvious reasons – they alert you when something's wrong.

The engine temperature light is one warning light that can leave drivers feeling alarmed. Even though this signal can appear frightening, it’s often an easy fix and easy to prevent if you understand why it appears in the first place!

What Color Is Your Temperature Light?

The color of the warning light can tell you a lot about the severity of the issue:

  • Red or Yellow – When the engine temperature warning light is red, it could mean your vehicle's coolant temperature is higher than normal. Driving should be stopped for at least 20 minutes.

  • Blue – If the light is blue, your coolant's temperature is too low to work properly. When properly warmed up, it should turn off. Driving should be delayed for a moment.

  • Flashes Blue and Red – If both lights flash one after another, there is a problem in the electrical section of the cooling system. Driving should be limited.

Keep in mind that all makes and models are unique. Some cars have temperature lights that are white, and some will post an actual statement on your dashboard that may or may not come with a symbol.

Other than a brief, temporary blue light, you should have your vehicle inspected ASAP. The management of temperature in your engine is paramount. As with most of the lights in your car, if you see red, you should STOP. Pull over and get it checked out immediately. This could save you from destroying your engine!

Here at Christian Brothers Automotive, we understand the importance of being informed about potential issues with your car. That’s why we’ve rounded up four of the most common reasons your engine temperature warning light may be showing up on your dashboard.

Four Causes of Temperature Warning Lights on Your Dashboard

Now that you understand the various warning light colors a bit more, here are the four most common reasons why your engine temperature warning light may be on:

  • Coolant Leak – If your coolant levels are low, it can cause the coolant temperature to rise and trigger the warning light. To prevent this issue, make sure you’re regularly checking your vehicle's coolant levels and topping off as needed. If it seems you are topping off your coolant often, it’s probably due to a leak. Have it inspected soon.

  • Faulty Thermostat – A faulty thermostat can cause the coolant to stay too cold for your engine's optimal temperature, illuminating the warning light. To prevent this from happening, periodically check that your vehicle’s thermostat is properly functioning. Our expert Technicians can inspect this for you.

  • Malfunctioning Fan – Your car's radiator fan plays a crucial role in keeping the engine cool. If the fan is not working correctly or has stopped working, it can cause the engine to overheat, triggering the temperature warning light. A malfunctioning fan can occur due to electrical or mechanical issues, such as a broken or burnt-out motor, faulty wiring, or a blown fuse. No matter the cause, the issue should be inspected, diagnosed, and repaired promptly.

  • Broken Pump – The pump helps circulate coolant throughout the engine and keeps it cool. When the water pump is broken or malfunctioning, it can impede the engine's cooling system, leading to overheating and even major engine damage if not taken care of.

There can be several other reasons your engine temperature warning light may be on. It’s important to have it looked at right away and not wait until the situation gets worse.

What Should I Do if the Temperature Warning Light on My Car Shows Up?

The first step is to pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine. Give your car a chance to cool down before checking the coolant level. We recommend 20 minutes minimum. Top it off with the recommended coolant mix if it's lower than it should be.

If the coolant level is at optimal levels, it could be related to a faulty thermostat or a malfunctioning cooling fan…or something else. If that’s the case, it's best to take your car to a trusted mechanic to diagnose and fix the issue before it causes further damage. Regular maintenance and inspection of your car's cooling system can help prevent temperature warnings and avoid costly repairs! We can take a look during our complimentary Courtesy Inspection, which is a great, overall health checkup on your car. Best part…it’s a free inspection!

Can I Drive with the Temperature Light On?

We don’t recommend this, because it could lead to many problems for your car's engine, beyond overheating. These include:

  • Damaging engine components such as the head gasket, piston rings, and valves.

  • Warping or cracking your engine's cylinder heads due to excessive heat.

  • Wrecking the catalytic converter if the temperature gets too high.

Rather than risking such damage to your car, it's best to get your car serviced immediately if you're experiencing a temperature warning light.

Dealing with an Overheating Engine? We're Here to Help

Whether your engine is running too hot or too cold, bring your car to our local auto repair shop. At Christian Brothers Automotive, our expert technicians can help you diagnose and fix any issues with your engine temperature warning light (or any other dashboard indicators) so you can have peace of mind while driving!

Schedule an appointment with a Christian Brothers Automotive location near you today to get started!

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