Can Your Car Get Too Hot in the Winter?

A stock photo of a person working on a car's engine.

Can A Car Overheat in the Winter?

The winter season comes with its own set of challenges. However, would you believe that a vehicle overheating would be one of them? One of our service teammates told us this the other day, and we were kind of shocked. It’s hard to believe anything can get too hot when the temperatures get so cold. As it turns out, a car, truck or SUV overheating has little to do with the ambient air temperature and a lot to do with the health of the vehicle’s coolant system. Before you put off an appointment at the Budds’ Chevy Service Department for another day, take a look at a few things you should know.

READ MORE: How Do You Know If a Coolant Flush is Necessary?

How Does Your Car Stay Cool?

Keeping your car’s engine cool is so important. It has an entirely separate system that does nothing but pulls heat away. Coolant, also known as antifreeze, circulates through a closed system. The further it travels, the hotter it gets before the liquid is cooled in the radiator by the coming air being pulled across it. A car is arguably only as healthy as its radiator, and this is why leaks or damage to the radiator are crucial to repair.

What Causes a Car to Overheat?

For the most part, there are only a couple of things that can cause the cooling system to fail. One is leaking coolant – which several things can cause, and the other is a faulty thermostat. When coolant leaks too low, there isn’t enough fluid available to dissipate the heat properly. The thermostat controls the flow of the coolant, and if it’s damaged, it won’t properly cool the engine, leading to overheating.

What Should You Do If Your Car Overheats?

Regardless of the season, if you see the temperature gauge on your car get too hot, shut the engine down as quickly as possible. Continuing to drive on an overheating engine will cause permanent, if not unrepairable, damage. Once you’re off the road and the engine is off, open the hood immediately to let it cool. 

Under no circumstances should you open the radiator. Hot coolant will build up pressure inside the radiator, and opening it up could cause hot coolant to spray everywhere, presenting you with a very dangerous situation. After waiting several minutes, check the coolant level and remove any obstructions from the radiator. If you can get to a repair facility quickly, you might be able to nurse the car there slowly. However, it’s probably wise to call for a tow truck to prevent further damage.

If you have questions about taking care of your car, truck or SUV and you need a service appointment, make an appointment with the Budds’ Chevy Service Department today.