How To Troubleshoot An Overheating Honda Civic: Causes & Solutions

Is suddenly smoke coming out of your Honda Civic while you’re driving? Or the engine temperature gauge is burning? It is a clear case of overheating. Pullover ASAP and try discovering the reason behind this overheating Honda Civic.

A coolant system failure is the most common reason behind the Honda Civic’s overheating. It can be a low level of coolant fluid, a leak, or a damaged cooling fan. In most cases, replacing the damaged parts in your car will stop it from overheating.

However, there are many other reasons that can lead to overheating problems. But how do you identify and fix the issue? Don’t worry. Tighten your belt and stay with me till the end as I tell you how to troubleshoot the Honda Civic overheating.

Signs of Overheating in a Honda Civic

Signs of Overheating in a Honda Civic

Engine heating is not always a problem. Sometimes it is natural that your car’s engine will heat. For instance, the engine can get hotter during faster acceleration. There is nothing to worry about.

People often confuse a heater and an overheating engine. That’s why first, you need to know if your Honda Civic is actually overheating.

But how do you know if the Honda Civic is overheating? Here are some symptoms of Honda Civic overheating:

  • Dashboard warning lights: The Honda Civic has a temperature sensor in the front bumper. If the engine or the car overheats, you will get a warning message on the dashboard. However, this feature is not available in older Civics.
  • Engine temperature gauge: The engine temperature gauge shows the temperature level of the engine coolant. If there is any issue with the coolant and the engine gets overheated, then the dashboard will notify you.
  • Strange smells or sounds: Strange or unfamiliar smells or sounds are the most common ways to identify a hot engine. You will often get a burning smell when the engine overheats. Besides, a thumping or cranking noise also indicates an overheating engine.
  • Smoke coming out: If smoke comes out from under the hood, then it surely is an overheating engine. You should stop driving ASAP in this situation and fix the problem.

Common causes of Honda Civic overheating

Common causes of Honda Civic overheating

Your Honda Civic can overheat for various reasons. If you notice any overheating symptoms, try not to drive anymore. Park your car and try to find out the reason behind it.

Some of the common causes of Honda Civic overheating are:

  1. Little or no coolant fluid
  2. Coolant leak
  3. Cooling fan failure
  4. Dirty or clogged coolant hose
  5. Malfunctioning thermostat
  6. Low engine oil
  7. Radiator problems
  8. Water pump malfunction
  9. Faulty heater core

However, there is no straightforward way to tell what the problem is. You need to keep checking different parts until you find the issue.

See Also: What Is The Brake Hold On Honda Civic?

Troubleshooting Overheating Honda Civic

Troubleshooting Overheating Honda Civic

Troubleshooting an overheating vehicle can be tricky if you lack vehicle repair knowledge. But you can do it with a little guidance.

Here is a detailed guide on troubleshooting an overheating Honda Civic:

  1. Checking the coolant fluid level and condition

The coolant system in your Honda Civic keeps the engine and other parts cool. But if your car’s coolant fluid is low or empty, then the Civic will overheat when you drive it.

You can check the coolant level by looking at the maximum and minimum markings on the coolant reservoir. Open the hood and then the radiator cap to look at the coolant fluid.

If it is above the minimum mark, then it’s fine. But if the level is below the minimum marking, then you have low coolant fluid. It is causing the engine to overheat.

Adding new coolant fluid to the system will solve the problem. Get a new bottle of coolant fluid, open the reservoir cap, and pour the fluid until it reaches the maximum mark.

  1. Examine coolant reservoir

While checking the coolant fluid, also have a look at the coolant reservoir or the tank. A leak in the reservoir can drain the fluid. It will result in low coolant fluid and engine overheating. Another sign of a coolant leak is water dripping underneath the vehicle.

If the leak is small, then you can repair it using plastic or epoxy welds. But in case of serious damage to the tank, you will need to replace it.

  1. Checking the cooling fan

The Honda Civic has two cooling fans. One is a high-speed cooling fan, and the other is a low-speed one. A bad cooling fan can lead to overheating.

You can find the fans on the front side of the engine compartment, under the hood. When you locate the fans, you will notice a wire connecting them to another part. Unhook the connector and clean it with a towel. Then connect again.

Now, keep the hood open and go back to your car. Turn on the ignition, cooling fan, and the ac. Now get out of your car and check if the fans are working. If yes, then you have nothing to worry about.

But if the cooling fans are not working, then you need to fix them. Turn off the engine and clean the cooling fan. Rotate the blades manually and turn on the engine again to see if they are working. If not, you need to replace them.

Sometimes it can also happen due to bad fan switches. Use a multimeter to test the switch. In the event of a bad cooling fan switch, you will need to replace it with a new switch.

  1. Check engine oil 

Engine oil helps the Civic’s combustion process run smoothly. Low engine oil can interrupt the process and cause overheating.

You can check the engine oil level using the dipstick in the engine oil tank. First, take it out and clean it with a towel. Then drip it into the oil to see how much engine oil is left.

If there is a low amount of engine oil left or if the tank is empty, then you need to use new oil ASAP. It should solve the problem.

  1. Inspecting hoses

If you have enough coolant fluid and engine oil, but still your engine is overheating, then you should check the hoses. A clogged coolant hose can be the issue here.

When you touch the coolant hose, if you find it hot, then the fluid is not flowing properly and causing overheating in your Honda Civic.

Unless there is any physical damage or leak on the hoses, you will not need to replace them. Cleaning the hose will fix the issue.

First, drain out the fluid through the hose. Then forcefully flow water through the hose for cleaning. Now, it should work fine.

  1. Testing the thermostat

A faulty thermostat can also cause the engine to overheat. You will find the thermostat above the radiator hose in the Honda Civic. The black and thick hose connected to the radiator is the thermostat.

Turn on the engine and keep it neutral. If coolant does not flow through the radiator hose, then it is fine. But if the coolant flows, that means the thermostat cap is open, and you need to replace it.

However, if the coolant still does not flow after a few minutes but the engine temperature gauge starts rising, it means the thermostat is still closed. It is also a sign of a bad thermostat. Replacing it will fix the problem.

  1. Inspecting the radiator

A malfunction in the radiator is one of the common reasons why your Honda Civic is overheating. You can find the radiator on the front side of the engine compartment.

First, look for any physical damage to the radiator, such as a bent pipe or leak. If you find any damage, then you may need to replace the radiator.

Another method to check for a bad radiator is a pressure test. You will need a pressure testing tool such as the DAYUAN Universal Radiator Pressure Tester Kit.

Replacing the radiator in a Honda Civic can be costly. In the case of a bad radiator, try cleaning the hoses first. Then go for repairing the radiator; if that does not work, replace it.

See Also: Honda Civic Timing Belt Or Chain

  1. Examining the water pump

The water pump is crucial to keeping your car’s cooling system running efficiently. A faulty water pump will interrupt the cooling process and overheat the engine.

To know whether your water pump is okay or not, you need to turn on the cooling fan. Then place your hand in front of the fan through the engine compartment. If you feel any heat, the water pump is fine. But if not, it is either a bad thermostat or a faulty water pump.

I have already explained how to test the thermostat in the sixth point. If that is okay, then the problem is with the water pump. You will need to replace the water pump to prevent engine overheating.

  1. Inspect the heater core

Lastly, if everything works fine, then maybe it’s a faulty heater core. If the heat does not come out of the vents while the engine is running or you notice foggy windows, then possibly the heater core is not working.

In most cases, you will need to change the heater core for repair. The process is quite complex, and it is best to visit a mechanic to do it.

See Also: How Fast Does A Honda Civic Go

Safety Tips for Dealing with an Overheating Honda Civic

Troubleshooting a hot engine in a Honda Civic can be dangerous if you do not take the proper precautions.

Touching an overheated engine can burn your skin. Open the hood after giving the engine a little time to cool down. Still, you should wear gloves while dealing with the problem.

Moreover, turn the engine off while it is working, or it can lead to disastrous results. Turn it on only when necessary, such as when checking the cooling fan.

When to Seek Professional Help

When you have major issues related to engine overheating in your Honda Civic, you should seek professional help instead of trying to fix the issue on your own. For example, go to a mechanic when the heater core is bad or the whole cooling system is damaged.

Besides, when you can not identify the reason for overheating even after troubleshooting, you should go to the automotive service center. You should never ignore overheating issues.

Nonetheless, if you still have a warranty, visit an authorized Honda dealer as soon as you notice any overheating issues. They will check the issue for you and provide the necessary solutions.

Read More: Honda Civic Alarm Keeps Going Off


  1. Can a Honda Civic recover from overheating?

A Honda Civic can not recover on its own from overheating. If you notice overheating issues with your vehicle, you should find and fix the issue ASAP to avoid any accidents.

  1. What is the average cost of repairing an overheating Honda Civic?

The average repair cost of an overheating Honda Civic will depend on which part is causing the problem. It will cost you around $80 to $100 for the inspection. Then the repair cost can vary from a hundred to a few thousand.

  1. Can using the wrong type of coolant cause overheating?

Yes, if you use the wrong type of coolant fluid, then the cooling system will not work properly. It can lead to engine overheating. You need to drain out all the fluid and use the correct fluid to fix the problem.

  1. How long can I drive my Honda Civic while it’s overheating?

You should not drive your Honda Civic if it is overheating. If you do, it can lead to serious damage, such as an engine blast. In case you need to take it to the mechanic, give it 15 to 30 minutes to cool down and then drive.

  1. Can I use water instead of coolant?

Yes! You can use water instead of coolant in your car, but only for a short time. When your engine is overheating due to a lack of coolant and you have no access to coolant fluid, you can use water. But you should get coolant fluid ASAP.