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Car Cranks But Won’t Start After Overheating: Causes & Fixes

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Car Cranks But Won’t Start After Overheating

When you have a relatively old car, it’s pretty common to experience overheating and starting issues. But when you have both of these issues at once, finding a proper solution gets even more difficult.

So why your car cranks but won’t start after overheating you think? it’s likely caused by the engine being damaged physically. It might also happen due to a faulty or damaged thermostat, water pump, radiator, and spark plugs or ignition coils. These are a little less common, though.

Even if it sounds complicated to fix at first, it isn’t, and you can do it at home with a little bit of experience. Hence, we’ll cover all the ways you can fix your car when it cranks but doesn’t start after overheating. Let’s begin. 

Car Cranks But Won’t Start After Overheating: Quick Look at Causes & Fixes 

We’ll go through a detailed overview of the problems and how to fix them later on. But if you want a quick glimpse of all the issues and their fixes in short, you can take a look at this table covering them in short —

Car Cranks But Won’t Start After Overheating
1. Engine Damage Or LeaksInspect the engine to see which part is damaged and get professional help to fix it
2. Fuel System IssuesUse high-quality fuel
3. Radiator Or Water Pump DamagePut more coolant or replace the radiator and water pump
4. Faulty ThermostatReplace the thermostat
5. Poor Spark Plug Or Ignition CoilReplace the spark plug or ignition coil
6. Lack Of CoolantUse more coolant on the cooling system

Why Your Car Cranks But Won’t Start After Overheating?

Car Cranks But Won’t Start After Overheating

Here’s a detailed overview of all the problems that might cause your car to crank but not start after overheating, including how to fix them in detail —

1. Engine Damage Or Leaks

The obvious and the most common reason your car might crank at first but not start properly after overheating is because of your engine itself. When your car overheats to a severe extent, it might physically damage some parts of the engine, causing the vehicle not to start.

Likewise, when your car overheats and damages the engine, the engine pistons might expand from the heat and warp the cylinder head. In some cases, it might even crack the head of your engine block or damage other parts nearby, such as the head gasket. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what part of the engine has an issue, though, so you should try to inspect for damage physically. 

Why Your Car Cranks But Won’t Start After Overheating


First, inspect the engine physically to see any damage. If you’re lucky, you can call a professional to help and hopefully fix the damaged part. But otherwise, you’ll need to replace the engine entirely.

This can cost several thousand dollars, so you try to fix the issues with the help of a professional first. 

2. Fuel System Issues

Although it might not seem important initially, your fuel system plays a huge part if your car isn’t starting after it overheats. This is because the conventional oil you use for your car can’t tolerate incredibly high temperatures. Also, it might make the parts of your car not work properly.

The motor oil acts as a lubricator, so it’s expected that the parts to be rough. When your fuel heats up, it might also not flow properly and cause vapor. So your engine might not be getting enough fuel as well.

Thankfully, most cars made in the newer generations are equipped with highly heat-resistant fuel to prevent them from causing issues when the car overheats. If you have a newer car, you won’t have to worry about it much.

Car Fuel System Issues


To fix issues with the fuel system, first get some high-quality fuel and make sure you put enough of it in your engine. Afterward, you can check the fuel systems parts, such as the pressure regulator, injector, and fuel lines.

If you see that these parts are too hot or they are damaged, replace them. The parts individually won’t cost much, but the price may vary depending on where you live. 

3. Radiator Or Water Pump Damage

The radiator in your car, manages the heat and prevents it from overheating, and it does this through the help of some other parts, including the water pump. 

So if any or both of these parts are faulty, you’ll experience overheating, and in the worst-case scenario, your car might not even start after cranking. This happens because when the radiator or water pump is damaged, it might leak the coolant, which keeps your car cool. 

If you’re looking for specific problems, you should consider checking the forums or Reddit page for the issue too. 

Car Radiator Or Water Pump Damage


To fix this issue, you should first try to put in more coolant. If this doesn’t work, you likely have a leak, and you’ll need to replace the water pump or radiator. In this scenario, you should do a smoke test first to look for leaks. 

4. Faulty Thermostat

Your thermostat is another part that controls your car’s temperature. It does this by opening and closing a valve when your coolant gets hot to let it get to the radiator, where it will later cool down.

But if your thermostat isn’t working properly, it might not open to let the coolant through to your radiator. This can cause overheating and ultimately might even cause your car to not start after cranking.

Car Faulty Thermostat


To fix a faulty thermostat, you should just replace it entirely. It’ll take too much time if you bother fixing it, and it’s not that expensive to replace it anyway. 

5. Poor Spark Plug Or Ignition Coil

Your spark plug and ignition coil are responsible for starting the car themselves. So if these parts are faulty, you might experience starting issues even if you get a crank.

This, most of the time isn’t directly related to overheating, though. It’s quite rare for spark plugs and ignition coils to become damaged after overheating, and usually, it’s caused by something else.

Car Poor Spark Plug Or Ignition Coil


Replace your spark plugs or ignition wire after checking for damage.

6. Lack Of Coolant

As obvious as it may sound, a lot of the time, your car might not start properly. That is because there simply isn’t enough coolant circulating in the cooling system for your car.


Simply add more coolant. You can do this by going to the coolant reservoir near the engine and applying more coolant until it reaches the “full” mark. 

You can check this YouTube video by 2CarPros below for a visual representation.

If your car is cranking but not starting after an overheating incident, you may be interested in our articles on car not starting after overheating and car overheating and smoking from under the hood. These articles provide valuable information and solutions to common car overheating issues. Whether you’re dealing with starting issues or experiencing smoking or other unusual symptoms from under the hood, our team at Car Problem Solved is here to help.
Car Cranks But Won’t Start


Here are some frequently asked questions we get. Taking a look at these can clear further confusion —

Q: Can I drive if my car is overheating?

No, you can’t. If you see that your car is overheating or it’s cranking up and not starting after overheating, you should immediately go and park at a safe place. Then you can open the hood and check what’s wrong. Let the engine cool and don’t open the hood instantly, though.

Q: How can I tell from the outside of my car is overheating?

Your car’s “check engine” light will turn on when it’s overheating. Other than that, you can check from the temperature gauge if your car is overheating. 

Q: Can my car overheat by using my A/C too much?

Most of the time, it won’t. However, you should generally try to use natural air instead of air conditioning. By doing so, you’ll be using less of it, so it can be used on the engine to keep that cool instead. 


If your car cranks but won’t start after overheating, it’s mostly due to engine damage or the fuel system. Aside from that, it might also be caused by a faulty radiator, water pump, thermostat, spark plugs, or ignition wires. You can fix most of these issues by replacing the parts, too.

However, it’s best if you can get a full scan of your car with DTC codes, though. This can tell you exactly which part you need to fix so your car can start again. Also, make sure to put enough coolant in your car. With that said, cheers!

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