what is wrong with my car?
June 19, 2009 12:12 PM Subscribe
Why is my car overheating in traffic jams?
posted by A Terrible Llama to travel & transportation (29 answers total)
My 96 Honda Civic (you're jealous, right?) overheats in traffic jams after ten, fifteen minutes.
The fans kick on for a while: the temperature will crawl upward as I sit there, fans kick in, temperature drops.That keeps happening until the upward creep exceeds the capacity of the fan to cool it. The temperature indicator crawls upward until it gets about 3/4 up and then I crank the heater to diffuse the problem.
I took it in last week and the mechanic could find nothing wrong. He ran it for a couple of hours, he said, checked all the fluids, monitored the temperature, and gave it a once over to be sure it would pass inspection (which is coming up.)
He kind of convinced me that I was imagining it, that it wasn't really unusually high, just maybe that I didn't notice it before. So yesterday I let it creep up to just a tick beneath the red zone, took a cell phone picture, and then cranked the heat. The picture I think will convey the urgency to him a little better, when I take it back to him.
Other maybe relevant details: as soon as the traffic jam ends and I speed off the engine cools down. I commute long distances routinely and have problems only sitting idle in traffic. Since he said he ran it for a couple of hours, I'm assuming he ran it in park. That's the main difference between my traffic jam experience -- in traffic, my foot's on the brake. We have a lot of construction going on around here and creep along at five miles an hour.
He's quite competent and a good guy who we know personally. Is there something I can tell him to look for?
Please note that I am really, really, really ignorant about cars and engines.