How Long Does It Take for a Car to Cool Down? What To Do & Not Do

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 3rd, 2022

How long does it take for a car to cool down? It normally takes at least 30 minutes for an overheated engine to cool down and for you to properly operate it. You should not even attempt to lift the hood if steam is streaming out of it. Keep an eye on the thermometer. It should indicate whether or not the engine has already cooled down.

When an engine overheats, steam is produced in the radiator. If you open the hood without first allowing it to cool, the steam from the radiator may burn your skin. Wait for the engine to cool down in this scenario.

car overheating

Continue reading to find out how long it takes for a car to cool down and what you can do to speed up the cooling process.

How Long Does It Take for a Car to Cool?

It usually takes at least 30 minutes for your automobile to cool down. When the engine in your automobile overheats, you should wait at least 30 minutes before inspecting or handling it. Keep an eye out for steam rising from the hood as well. Boiling water has the potential to burn your skin.

Heat reduction is typically proportionate to the temperature differential between the surrounding environment and the engine. The quantity of heat loss is negligible when the engine cools down near the surrounding air’s temperature. That’s why it’ll take many hours to cool the engine down to a few degrees.

So, don’t merely open the radiator cap after you’ve shut off the engine. The coolant has already become hot, causing serious burns on your skin. It is considered to have cooled down when you can safely operate an automobile engine. Cooling down might take up to two hours.

Again, this will be determined by the ambient temperature and the amount of heat the engine creates. The time required for cooling down will also differ from engine to engine. Thermal engineering consumes a sizable amount of engine design expenses. The rationale is to improve the cooling system’s cooling capability and heat transmission.

To be safe, you should wait for 1 to 2 hours for the automobile to cool down before opening the radiator cap. However, if you want to check the coolant level, you should wait 3 to 5 hours. Because the coolant has already expanded, the gauge will display a misleading high value, which might be misinterpreted as still hot.

How Long Does It Take for a Car to Cool Down based on the type of car

Type of CarCool Down Period
Petrol30 minutes
Diesel30 minutes
ElectricUnlikely of heating

How Long Does It Take for a Car to Cool Down based on different situations

After Overheating, Allow to Cool

The engine functions similarly to a human body, with mechanical organs made of iron and steel, computer units serving as the brain, the engine block serving as the heart, and rubber tubing serving as blood veins. If any component fails, the entire system faces the repercussions.

The most prevalent reason for overheating is a lack of coolant. The radiator is situated towards the front of the engine to absorb the air the automobile must pass through due to drag. The coolant fluid, pumped through the system by a pump, is swiftly cooled.

Coolant issues can be just as dangerous, although they are usually controllable without long-term implications. The temperature indicator on the dashboard should be set to 90 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s typical for it to begin increasing slightly after a long uphill drive, but any departure should be the reason for concern.

The automobile will overheat if the pump fails, there is a coolant leak, or the fan fails to cool properly. As the coolant hits boiling point, it will begin to evaporate and develop pressure inside the system, culminating in the distinctive cloud of white mist released by the pressurized radiator cap.

Despite reaching its maximum potential temperature, an overheated engine has one of the quickest cooling times: roughly 30 minutes. It doesn’t take too long because the aim is to go back to driving as soon as possible rather than working on any of the pieces. However, if you feel that there is insufficient coolant, you may need to top it off.

Exercise patience and do not unscrew the radiator cap until the heat from the engine can no longer be felt. If you remove the cap while the coolant is still hot, the pressure will rupture and inflict severe burns!

Adding room temperature coolant to a hot system might cause the engine to break due to the sharp temperature difference. Overheating has been a typical problem for me after driving a bunch of vintage Skodas. My approach entails lifting the hood to allow the engine to cool off faster and, if necessary, preparing the coolant by placing the bottle in a safe location where it may take some heat.

Getting it just a tad warmer decreases the temperature differential with the engine, making it safer and faster to fill up and get back on the road.

Allow cooling before doing an oil change.

The most vital motor fluid is oil. Coolant issues will progressively raise the temperature until the safety mechanisms compel you to stop before permanent harm occurs. If you don’t pay attention to oil levels and change cycles, a problem might arise unexpectedly and ruin the engine in less than a minute.

If the engine warning light turns on, come to a complete stop as quickly as possible, wherever it is safe. This isn’t an issue that can be put off until the next rest break — each spin of the engine may be it’s last.

Cooling down the engine for an oil change is unique in that it cannot be done while the engine is hot, but it also cannot be done while it is entirely cold. The viscosity of oil fluctuates with temperature. The easier it flows, the hotter it is. There are two approaches to getting an ideal temperature:

Allow the automobile to cool for 30 minutes after driving it to its operating temperature.
Start the engine for a few minutes if it is entirely cool.

In the first scenario, you’re allowing the engine to cool sufficiently so you can get to the oil filter without burning yourself, whereas, in the second, you’re warming up the oil so it flows more smoothly. The times are only estimations and can be influenced by the ambient temperature, so work within your constraints and don’t be too concerned. Just be cautious not to get hot oil all over yourself!

Preparing for a Mechanical Procedure

The amount of time you should wait before changing or examining parts might vary. Most activities may be completed in one or two hours, but if you want to open the engine block or perform a big diagnostic test, leave it overnight. I’ve learned the hard way that you should check the temperature of all the parts around the part you’re working on, not just the one you’re working on. Gloves will shield your hands, but your forearms will be exposed and can burn.

Remember that engine parts are constructed of various materials that disperse heat differently. This is especially true for hoses, which cool faster than the metal pieces to which they are linked.

What Factors Influence the Time It Takes for a Car to Cool Down?

The longer it takes for your automobile to cool down, the more harm it causes to your engine. Many things determine your automobile engine’s capacity to cool down. These are their names:

  • How hot the engine got while the automobile was operating;
  • The quantity and quality of heat insulation in the engine bay; the ambient or surrounding temperature at the location where the engine overheated;
  • The volume or amount of engine coolant; and the material used in the engine block and head’s construction (i.e., engine blocks made of steel are not as quick to cool as those made of aluminum).

The Engine Cooling System: An Overview

The engine cooling system regulates the heat that accumulates in your vehicle. As you drive down the road, oils, liquids, and gasses combine to keep your automobile moving and cool. Your engine cooling system is made up of four components, any of which might be the source of your vehicle’s overheating.

Pump for Water

When it comes to a heating-up automobile, the water pump is a somewhat pricey repair. It’s difficult to get to, but the bits and components to get it patched up and operating again are pricey.


The radiator might also be costly. It works in tandem with the engine to keep your vehicle moving. If there is a problem with the radiator, you may lose the cooling fan, causing your car to overheat fast.

The core of the Heater

The heater core is at the heart of everything and will cost you some money to fix. If you have a problem here, your car will heat up quickly and may begin to emit smoke if you leave it running for an extended period without being repaired.


If the thermostat quits operating, it might not be a huge worry unless additional problems accompany it. To repair it, your expert will inspect beneath the hood to discover what’s causing the problems.

What Could Cause a Car to Be Hot for an Extended period?

Here are some of the reasons why your automobile engine may remain hotter than necessary:

  1. The temperature outside is also high.

If your automobile overheats in a hot environment, it will take longer for the engine to cool down. If you can still drive, park in the shade rather than in the sun’s glare.

  1. Engine oil is scarce.

The primary function of engine oil is to lubricate engine components to minimize friction, which creates heat. If there isn’t enough oil in the engine, it will run hot for a long period.

  1. The cooling fan is not working.

The fan’s purpose is to keep the engine cool. Its cooling efficiency will be diminished if it malfunctions.

  1. The Water Pump Is Not Working

The water pump circulates the coolant in the water jacket that surrounds the engine. If it fails, it will not offer a full cooling effect to the engine.

  1. The Fan Belt Is Damaged

The fan belt transmits the action of the electric motor to the fan, which aids in cooling the engine. No power is transferred from the motor to the fan if it is broken. The fan will be unable to revolve to perform its function.

  1. The Radiator Is Obstructed

The radiator comprises small water tubes that pump water over the fins to keep the engine cool. If these tubes get clogged, the efficiency of water circulation suffers significantly.

A typical car’s engine cooling system comprises four primary components. The water pump, radiator, heater core, and thermostat are the components. A series of hoses link them. These hoses also transport coolant throughout the system, including the engine.

If any of these components fail, the cooling system will not operate properly. Your engine will also heat up. If your car’s engine overheats regularly, it’s a symptom that something is wrong with the cooling system. Your vehicle needs a cooling system inspection before it experiences engine damage, which is more expensive to fix.

You can fill up or change the engine oil as an urgent fix. You can also clean or overhaul the radiator, fix the water pump or thermostat, or perform whatever else is required to prevent the engine from overheating. Then, have a competent auto mechanic inspect and repair any problems with the cooling system.

We’ve addressed the question, “How long does it take a car to cool down?” Now let’s look at some of the things you can do to assist your car cool down faster.

How Can You Get Your Car to Cool Down Faster?

It cannot be overstated: cooling down your automobile faster will assist avoid further engine damage. Here are some ideas about how to go about it:


If you can’t get your engine to cool down, you may pull over for a few moments and switch it off. You’re allowing your car some time to relax and cool up, and you’re not having to worry about pouring oil, gas, and other fluids from one location to another as you drive.

Always have antifreeze on hand.

It’s usually a good idea to keep an antifreeze bottle on hand. If antifreeze isn’t available, water will suffice, but don’t rely solely on it. One of the most common reasons for an overheating automobile is a lack of coolant, which you can easily remedy by adding some to your vehicle.

Apply rapid cooling to the radiator rather than the engine

Pour or spray water on the radiator to cool it swiftly. This should not be done on the engine as it may produce a crack in the engine block. The radiator can withstand the fast temperature drop.

Quickly rev the engine.

Begin the engine and quickly crank it for 1 to 2 seconds. This will aid in the circulation of coolant via the water pump. Before you attempt this method, make sure you have adequate coolant. Stop the engine many times to let the coolant do its job.

Turn the engine off but leave the key in the ‘on’ position.

The fan will continue to run if the key is in the ‘on’ position. This will hasten the cooling of your vehicle.

Ventilate the Car Interior

On one side of your automobile, open the front and back windows. Then, on the other side of the automobile, open the door and swing it back and forth. This will create a fanning effect in the car’s interior. Repeat at least three times.

Start the engine and adjust the air conditioning to the highest setting in your vehicle.

This method will work in vehicles with the ‘external’ air setting. You have this choice if your automobile’s AC switch has an arrow pointing towards the car’s direction. The AC switch in a typical automobile is marked with a circular arrow.

The colder air from outside enters the vehicle when you pick the external air option. Because this approach takes a few minutes to work, open all of your automobile windows.

Allow the lower air vents to open.

Heat and heated air ascend while cold air falls. Cool air may be introduced into the vehicle through the floor holes. This causes heated air inside the automobile to rise and exit via the windows.

Close the higher vents on the dashboard and the lower vents at the bottom of the windshield. This will cause an upward flow of air within the vehicle.

Defrost the Car Windows

Drive the car and leave the windows open for a few minutes. This will allow hot air from the engine, and the vehicle’s inside to escape. Continue doing so until the air in the vents is colder than the temperature outside.

Change to recirculated air and shut the windows.

Close all the windows if the air from the air conditioner is already cool. Then, use pre-cooled or recirculated air. Adjust the flow of air by opening the air vents.

Examine the Coolant

You might open the hood and inspect the coolant tank to determine the source of the problem. This will tell you whether or not your tank is leaking since you’ll be able to notice whether there’s a difference in the amount of coolant you still have in your tank. You should be concerned about pumping oil, gas, and other liquids from one location to another while commuting.

How Do Car Fans Work to Cool Down Vehicles?

Engine cooling fans are an essential component of the vehicle’s cooling system. When the automobile runs at a low speed, the engine cooling fan circulates air through the radiator. In a running automobile, airflow is crucial because it takes heat from the coolant. The radiator functions as a heat conductor. Because they are temperature regulated, these fans only run when needed.

Engine cooling fans are classified into two types:

  1. Electric Fan of Cooling

This fan’s primary duty is to increase engine performance and minimize emissions. These fan types may be fitted in both rear-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive vehicles. A coolant sensor controls the cooling fan through a computer.

The coolant sensor detects an increase in temperature that exceeds the usual range. If it senses an unexpected temperature rise, it will signal the fan relay control to close it. A circuit fuse safeguards this relay control.

  1. Manual Fan of Cooling

This type of fan is linked to the engine’s driving pulleys. It is operated by a thermal fan clutch, which detects heat from the radiator. It will also engage if the automobile engine is running at high temperatures.

When not engaged, the thermal fan clutch is meant to be freewheeling. It has silicone grease in it, which swells when heated. To keep the lubrication in place, a typical device contains a seal and a set of shaft bearings. It is usually fixed or connected to the engine’s water pump.

How to Prevent Your Car from Overheating

It is far better to avoid getting your car’s engine hot than to fix the problem after it has overheated. Follow the steps below to keep your automobile engine from overheating:

  • Avoid parking in direct sunlight. As much as possible, park in the shade.
  • Keep your car’s cooling system in good working order.
  • Cover the windscreen with a parasol when parking in the sun.
  • When it’s too hot, use a moist towel to wipe down the surfaces of your automobile.
  • Leave the automobile windows slightly open if the parking place is secured.
  • Keep your air conditioning system in good working order.

What not to do if your car overheats

  • No matter how eager you are to get your engine running again, never open the radiator or any other parts until it has cooled down to a safe level. You know what it means: the hot coolant and water in the radiator may spray directly into your face.
  • If you discover that your car is overheating, never continue driving. Hunt for the nearest parking spot and pull over. If you continue to operate on an overheated engine, you risk destroying it. To see whether your cooling system is boiling, look at the engine; there should be smoke pouring out of it. Warning lights and gauges must also warn that your car is overheating.

Finally, how long does it take a car to cool down?

To summarize, “How long does it take an automobile to cool down?” It normally takes 30 minutes for an overheated engine to cool down enough for you to handle it.

If there is steam pouring out of the car’s hood, do not attempt to raise it. Keep an eye on the thermometer. It should indicate whether or not the engine is already cooling down.


Editorial Staff

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