Owners Tips

Lesson Learned: Dramatic Video Shows Why an Overheating Engine Should Never Be Ignored

When we aren’t feeling well, we might get hot and have a fever.

A fever is typically a sign of illness – your body’s immune system is working overtime trying to get better. When we’re running a little hot, we notice quickly and take precautionary steps right away. Your car isn’t too different and if the driver in this latest story acted quicker, they could have saved a ton of money.

In this post on r/Justrolledintotheshop, Reddit user cdmertz shares a video that dramatically illustrates the importance of acting urgently when your engine overheats.

Sometimes engines overheat because of a coolant leak, a faulty radiator hose, or bad engine software programming. Other times, engines overheat because they’re suffering from a failed cylinder head or cylinder head gasket that’s allowing engine oil and engine coolant to mix together.

In human terms, that’s like replacing your blood with pancake syrup.

A bit more viscous than syrup, actually

And while the petroleum goop leaking from the customer’s oil pan looks like something from a cool science experiment, it’s actually just the engine’s oil and coolant chemically reacting with one another while being churned around at high temperatures for a very long time.

The result? A gooey sludge made of engine oil and engine coolant that can’t do its job of oiling or cooling the engine’s internal parts.

The prognosis is official: this engine is mucked. What a waste.

What engine oil is supposed to look like

As cdmertz reported, the owner of this vehicle said it had been overheating for the past month. The first or second overheat event may have been caused by something minor like a wonky radiator hose or thermostat. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if they fixed it quickly, but extended periods of overheating, especially when repeated, can cause damage to the engine and the vital parts inside of it.

In this case, the result of repeated overheating seems to have caused some internal engine damage that allowed oil and coolant to blend freely. After destroying internal bearing surfaces, the sludge just gums up the whole engine and it graduates to brick status.

It's not the first time we've seen engine sludge like this

Mind you, the vehicle in question was a Chevy Tahoe, so the owner could have repurposed the broken V8 into a cool coffee table or something.

Lesson learned? Engine overheating is a sign of trouble that you should take seriously and tend to immediately to prevent possibly catastrophic results.

If you’re driving and your engine overheats, pull off the road as quickly as possible, max out your vehicle’s heating system (this helps cool the engine), and check the owner’s manual for additional instructions.

Remember that continued driving in an overheated state can damage your engine and void your warranty.