Abstract The impact of a subcooled water and n-heptane droplet on a superheated flat surface is examined in this study based on a three-dimensional model and numerical simulation. The fluid dynamic behavior of the droplet is accounted for by a fixed-grid, finite-volume solution of the incompressible governing equations coupled with the 3-D level-set method. The heat transfer inside each phase and at the solid–vapor/liquid–vapor interface is considered in this model. The vapor flow dynamics and the heat flux across the vapor layer are solved with consideration of the kinetic discontinuity at the liquid–vapor and solid–vapor boundaries in the slip flow regime. The simulated droplet dynamics and the cooling effects of the solid surface are compared with the experimental findings reported in the literatures. The comparisons show a good agreement. Compared to the water droplet, it is found that the impact of the n-heptane droplet yields much less surface temperature drop, and the surface temperature drop mainly occurs during the droplet-spreading stage. The effects of the droplet’s initial temperature are also analyzed using the present model. It shows that the droplet subcooling degree is related closely to the thickness of the vapor layer and the heat flux at the solid surface.