How to Prevent Overheating at High Altitudes

by Contributor

Go ahead and plan your road trip to the mountains or a popular American city. Just make sure to take some simple preventative measures when taking your vehicle into high altitudes. Neglected preventative maintenance can end up costing you a lot of extra money and possibly bring your vacation to an early end. Read these simple steps to help deal with rough road conditions.

Check your radiator cap. The radiator cap isn't just a stopper. It's the pressure regulator for the whole cooling system. Boiling points change at high altitudes which can cause overheating. You need to replace the sealing washer if it has cracks, splits or noticeable worn ridges. When in doubt, you should purchase a new cap.

Examine your thermostat for dirt, debris, cracks, splits or any noticeable damage. The expected temperature is stamped on the thermostat. If it is high above the stamped number, or if there is no stamp at all, replace it.

Listen to your vehicle for noises from the cooling pump. If it's getting ready to go out, you may either hear a rumbling sound or a continuous high pitched squeak. Check your manual for proper tension of the drive belt. If the belt is too loose it can slip and cause overheating.

Flush your radiator as it can have a build up of sludge and limescale, caused by hard water, after long periods of time. Once you remove the radiator, "back flush" it by inserting a hose in the bottom fitting until the water runs clean. Re-connect the radiator and fill with an anti-freeze/water mixture. This prevents debris from blocking airflow and causing overheating.

Replace any hoses that are splitting, bulging or have changed color. Invest in hoses used for motorsport engines if you plan on straining your engine in high altitudes by pulling an R.V. or horse trailer.


  • close Always make sure to have a mixture of anti-freeze and water in your cooling system.

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