Overheated coolant triggers “check engine” light

20120911032504CEL_AmberYour car’s “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” light can flash on for more than 1,400 different reasons, and in the coming months, we’re going to share with you what some of those reasons are. The light is part of your vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) system and can indicate anything from a quick fix like a loose gas cap to a major repair like a catalytic converter.

Trouble code: P0217 Engine Over Temperature

If this code is discovered, it means the engine coolant temperature is excessively high under normal engine speed. The engine coolant is overheating if it’s around 240 to 250 degrees.This is a critical light! It means your engine is beginning to overheat.

In addition to the check engine light, you might also see some other type of warning on the dashboard, such as a red temperature gauge or maybe the words “engine hot.”

The warning lights should come on before any damage to your engine occurs, but you need to shut the engine off as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a P0217 DTC may include:

  • Loss of power
  • Coolant expelled from reservoir or radiator
  • Low coolant
  • Acrid smell of coolant due to leak
  • Air conditioner inoperative (In the event of an overheat condition, the powertrain control module on some vehicles shuts down the A/C system to reduce load on the engine).

Potential causes of a P0217 code include:

  • Low coolant due to leak in cooling system
  • Restriction/debris in the A/C condenser or radiator
  • Restriction/debris in the cooling system
  • Thermostat stuck closed or faulty
  • Inoperative cooling fan(s)
  • Cylinder head gasket leaking combustion into cooling system
  • Overloaded trailer towing
  • Faulty water pump

An overheated engine usually ruin the thermostat, so you should always replace the thermostat after an overheating incident.

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