Can a Vehicle Overheat in the Winter?

 Although it sounds like the first line of an automotive joke, a car can overheat in the winter. The engine heat from your vehicle is cooled by its radiator or cooling system, so if an aspect fails, you’ll notice steamed heat escaping from your hood. Overheating has nothing to do with the air temperature. 



The cooling system of your vehicle includes the radiator. 

Because the built-up heat in your vehicle’s engine must exit it, if its cooling system fails somehow, it is very possible for your car to overheat, even in the wintertime. There are a number of radiator parts, hoses, and connections that need to be working correctly. Usually, age has the most to do with its parts failing. 




“It is smart to book a cooling system inspection every year forward from your vehicle’s sixth birthday. Contact us online to book your radiator system inspection.

Head gasket leaks can cause damage to your engine’s bearings. A simple ‘pressure test’ will provide you with valuable information.”



Hanford’s Tire & Service ‘Happy Client Google Reviews’ are found here on our Testimonials Page



How can you tell your vehicle is overheating?

You’ll know very simply when your vehicle overheats by seeing the steam of the radiator’s liquid appearing at the edges of your vehicle’s hood. If you are a gauge-checker, you’ll also see your engine’s temperature gauge on your dashboard increase into the highest portion or you may have a dashboard light that lets you know you have Low Coolant.




An at-home preventative measure

Do top off the radiator coolant in your vehicle with a 50 /50 mix of antifreeze specific to your vehicle (or a Universal Coolant) and water.



What should you do if your car overheats while you’re driving? 

Pull over safely, turn off the vehicle, and open the hood to dissipate its heat build-up. It is never worth risking more damage to the engine by continuing to drive the car. Most engines are made from aluminum so you might risk warping or even cracking the engine case.

Never attempt to remove the hot radiator cap. You can be injured by the cap or the pressurized hot coolant.

Close the hood and turn on your four-way flashers or hazard lights, take your keys and valuables, and lock the doors. Note the mile marker number if you’re on a main highway to help the tow truck find the vehicle.



Have your vehicle towed to a trustworthy auto service centre like Hanford’s Tire & Service. Call us during our business hours Mon – Fri 7:30 am – 5 pm (Sat & Sun, we are closed) at the numbers below. 

We have a number of trusted towing services that will safely bring your vehicle to either of our two London, ON locations to inspect or repair your cooling system.

Alternatively, call a reliable towing service (compare the pricing of towing services from the first page of Google results to the third-page companies) or call a local auto service provider to ensure your vehicle is towed to us. 



The following is a list of the top cooling system failures. Leaks, leaks, and more leaks.

Really, any orifice of the cooling system presents a wonderful place from which a leak will develop over time. And so maintenance is the preventative measure. A quick look occasionally gives you continued peace of mind so that you aren’t left stranded.


  • An age-related leak either at the seal or gasket (or o-ring) to the water pump, at the seams of the radiator case itself, at a corroded hose clamp.
  • Cracks, splits, or holes in the radiator hose or heater hose will be noticed by an exiting of hot coolant steam from the opening.  
  • Leaks noticeable in the vehicle’s passenger side interior means a hose connected to the heater core or a leak in the heater core itself will drip onto the floor of the passenger side.
  • Engine block freeze plugs can corrode allowing a leak to develop.
  • Intake Manifold gasket leaks occur more with some engine brands than others.
    • Internal coolant leaks are always more expensive to repair than a leak on the outside of a hose.
    • Head gasket problems are the bane of cooling system problems. A leaking head gasket can cause damage to the engine bearings or ruin spark plugs.
    • A bad thermostat can cause the engine to overheat, in turn damaging the head gasket.
    • A cylinder head or engine block can develop a crack and the coolant can leak into the cylinder head and risk damage to the engine, piston, or rings.


    Read more about your vehicle radiator or cooling system under our Radiator Services Page.

    Hanford’s Tire & Service has been serving London ON since 1986. Our family-owned business is here to help you with all your vehicle service, and of course, we carry the best and most popular tires. 

    Call us at the locations below.