What Causes a Car to Overheat & Lose Power Steering?

by Gregory Hamel

A sudden loss of power steering followed by an increase in engine heat in a car is the result of a serpentine drive belt, or "S belt," that has fallen off or snapped.

Function

A car's serpentine belt is a continuous belt that loops around the engine's crankshaft and several other pulleys and powers the car's various internal systems such as the engine cooling system, AC and power steering.

Safety

If you lose power steering and see an increase in engine heat while driving, it is best to pull to the side of the road and call for assistance; it can be very hard to steer a car without power steering and driving too far with no engine cooling can damage the car.

Causes

The serpentine belt can potentially be knocked off or broken in several ways; general wear and tear over time can cause the belt to fray and snap, while driving in wet conditions or through puddles, snow and gravel may kick up debris and cause the belt to slip off the pulleys.

Repair

A broken serpentine belt will have to be replaced, but a belt that has slipped off can often be rethreaded around the pulley system, which should cause power steering and engine cooling to return.

Prevention

Certain vehicles are prone to having their serpentine belts fall off; auto mechanics may offer special modification packages that can help prevent serpentine belt slippage.

About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.