Why is my Car Overheating in Traffic Service FAQs in Seattle, WA
Volkswagen overheating in traffic service FAQs

Carter Volkswagen Service FAQs: Why is My Car Overheating In Traffic?

Get answers about overheating in traffic

The damage a modern car can sustain when overheating is no joke, so it's always smart to pay attention to your vehicle's temperature warning light or temperature gauge. But what if your temperature warning light seems to activate at stop lights, in traffic and when waiting in line at drive-thrus — but goes away once you get moving again?

It might seem a mystery to you, but it tells us a lot at Carter Volkswagen. In all likelihood, there's a problem with your vehicle's radiator fan. We'll explain on this page how we arrived at that conclusion. We're not psychic; we just have plenty of know-how when it comes to German engineering. Let us put that know-how to work for you in our service center.

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Learn why your Volkswagen may be overheating in traffic

The Reason Why Your Car Only Overheats in Traffic

To answer this question, you'll want a quick overview of the cooling system under the hood of your vehicle. Coolant circulates throughout the engine, drawing heat away from its rapidly-moving parts. This protects your engine, which would warp from excess heat without the cooling system, and damage itself severely.

Now that the heat has been absorbed by the coolant, it needs to exchange that heat somewhere. This heat exchange takes place at the radiator. After cooling the engine, coolant flows to the radiator, a system of fins that spreads the coolant out over a very large surface area.


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The radiator is located in the front of the vehicle, right behind the front grille. As you drive along, air passes through the grille and across the radiator. The cooler outside air lowers the temperature of the coolant in the radiator as it flows past.

But what if your car is stopped? An electric radiator fan blows air across the radiator when your car is waiting at a stoplight or idling in traffic. If that radiator fan stops working, the radiator won't be able to reduce the temperature of the coolant inside — unless the forward motion of your vehicle creates the necessary breeze.

To keep your engine cool at all times, visit Carter Volkswagen in Seattle! We can repair your vehicle's radiator fan so your ride no longer gets hot under the collar when sitting still.

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What Caused my Radiator Fan to Stop Working?

A busted radiator fan is a relatively easy fix for our factory-trained experts. On older model cars, the fan may have been belt-driven. If that belt failed or the fan clutch gave out, that could cause the radiator fan to stop working.

However, modern cars feature electric radiator fans. The most common reason these will stop working is a failed fan motor. A small, discrete motor powers the radiator fan; if it burns out, we'll simply have to replace it — a pretty commonplace procedure at Carter Volkswagen. Other possible causes include a faulty thermostat, a blown fuse or other electrical problem. These can be a little more tricky to diagnose, so be sure to consult the experts at your nearest authorized VW dealership.

Service Dept Hours

Monday
7:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday
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Wednesday
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Thursday
7:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday
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Saturday
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday
Closed