Is Your Car’s Heater Ready for Winter?

Can you believe 2020 is almost over? We here at Cookeville Tire & Auto feel as if summer just flew by like a high-speed jet. Fall is here and your kids are already bugging you about Halloween, aren’t they. Before you dive headfirst into Halloween and then the holiday season, have your automobile checked out to ensure you won’t break down in the middle of your holiday craziness. Let’s start by talking about the heater core, what it does, and how cold you’ll be if it dies in the middle of January.

What the Heater Core Does

When you turn on your vehicle’s heater, you relish in the hot air that blows through the vents. This air not only comforts you if you’re cold but also helps to defrost the windshield and side windows so you can see clearly. The heater core, which is located in your automobile’s cooling system even though it’s called the “heater” core, is what heats the air, and how it does so is rather ingenious. 

Just like the radiator, the core has tubes that run through it. Inside these tubes is the hot coolant that has just circulated through the engine to reduce its temperature. The hot coolant passes through the heater core before it’s returned to the radiator, where the radiator fan cools it down. The core takes advantage of the coolant’s temperature, heating the air that blows over it.

Heater Core Failure

Heater cores generally last about 10 years after which they are at an increased risk of failure. Usually, the core will spring a leak. This leak can become a huge problem because you might not detect it right away. The signs can be subtle, and they include

  • The sweet smell of radiator fluid blowing out of your vents
  • A foggy windshield and windows that won’t clear up
  • Cold or lukewarm air blowing out of your vents
  • Coolant loss yet you don’t see where it’s leaking from
  • Your engine overheating constantly

As coolant leaks out of the heater core, the fluid levels in your radiator and overflow reservoir go down. This will not only cause your engine to overheat but also make it seem as if your engine is blowing through the coolant every time you top it off.

Without enough coolant in the heater core, it cannot do its primary job, which is to keep you warm and defrost the windows. There isn’t any hot coolant in the tubes to warm the air as it blows over it. If coolant is leaking out of the core, you might smell it.

Cookeville Tire & Auto in Cookeville, TN, would be happy to inspect your car, crossover, truck, SUV, or van’s heater core to make certain it is ready for its winter job. Call our shop at 931-322-4482 to schedule an appointment that works well with your schedule.

Photo by SV Productions from Getty Images via Canva Pro