Why Cooling System Problems Show Up in Cold Weather

October 28, 2021 5:39 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Your car’s cooling system is one of the more underappreciated aspects of vehicle maintenance. You might not notice it until it stops working. This can become readily apparent in the winter months if your car’s heater doesn’t function correctly.

But a key part of auto maintenance is understanding when various systems within your car are at risk and taking the appropriate measures to account for these issues. It might seem backward that your car’s cooling system might not work as well when the weather is cold, but this article will explain why that is.

Coolant issues

Coolant is a fluid that runs through your car’s radiator. As the name suggests, its function is to cool your car’s engine and prevent it from overheating. If your car is overheating, the first thing you should do is check your coolant levels and make sure you have enough; refill it if you do not.

But extreme winter weather can cause partial freezing of the coolant in your car’s radiator, and this can lead to problems. A frozen liquid expands, and coolant is no exception. Because the coolant has expanded, now it’s not able to pass through the radiator as easily as it normally would.

This puts undue stress on the radiator, as it must expand to accommodate the expanded coolant. The result can be cracks in the radiator or coolant leaks, which could be precursors to larger problems.

Malfunctioning thermostat

A key tenet of auto maintenance is knowing how the engine regulates its temperature. Like your home, your car’s engine has a thermostat. This device prevents the engine from overheating when it’s working as intended.

When it’s not operating as it should, it could either be broken or stuck in the open position. In both cases, it’s not regulating the temperature correctly. When this happens, the thermostat doesn’t let the radiator fluid travel through the vehicle’s engine as it is supposed to. This, in turn, prevents the engine from cooling itself properly and can lead to your vehicle overheating.

Leaky cooling system

The cold winter air can cause the expansion and contraction of the metal components of your engine. This process can lead to stress on the connecting hoses that can then lead to leaks in the cooling system. Leaks are a problem because they allow unwanted cold air to enter the cooling system where it’s not supposed to.

This cold air can inhibit the flow of coolant through your car’s engine—even if it doesn’t partially freeze the coolant itself, like we touched on above. The radiator hoses are the most common source of leaks—if you suspect that’s what the culprit is, you should take your car to a mechanic to have them take a look at it.

Call for your car’s preventative maintenance today

The calendar will be flipping to November soon, and that means colder weather. To schedule some preventative auto maintenance, call us at Rivergate Muffler & Auto Repair. We’re the auto care experts with the knowledge and experience to keep your car from overheating this winter.

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