As the blustery periods of winter arrive, people will depend on their vehicle’s heating system to keep them toasty during their daily movements. The heating system is equally designed to melt ice buildup and fog on the windshields to provide the driver a clear view of what lies ahead. Unfortunately, a car’s heating system can occasionally fail, not only leaving you in the cold, but also impairing your vision, which can result to safety issues.
How a Vehicle Heater Works
A vehicle needs coolant to absorb the heat it produces during operation. The coolant circulates through the engine and then the radiator where it is cooled before completing the entire process again. Before reaching the radiator, the coolant passes through a heater core, which is same as a radiator as it absorbs heat from the coolant. A blower fan, most often found under the dash, blows air through the heater core where it is circulated through the cabin of the car. The heated air is also channeled through a circuit of ducts to the windshields for deicing and fog removal when necessary.
Several problems can happen that could cause your car’s heat to malfunction. They are outlined below.
1. A Faulty Thermostat
The thermostat is a part designed to control the coolant circulation through the engine. One of its primary duties is to stop coolant circulation during the first minutes of engine operation. This makes the coolant to heat up quicker, which in turn warms the engine and its units parts, or “heater core” faster. Once the thermostat reaches a preset temperature, it opens and lets normal coolant circulation through the engine. A faulty thermostat, or one that fails to hold back the coolant until it is warmed, will increase the time it takes to offer heated air to the cabin.
2. A Faulty Heater Core
The most common issue associated with a failing heater core is it develops a leak. Not only will a leaking heater core fail to give adequate heat, but also could let coolant to leak into the car’s cabin. If you notice coolant pooling in the floorboard of your car, it is most likely time to change the heater core.
3. A Faulty Heater Hose
A heater hose conveys the heated coolant to and from the heater core. If it bursts or develops a leak, the heated coolant will not get to the core, which in turn will stop the core from heating and providing warm air to the vehicle’s cabin.
4. A Faulty Fan Motor
The fan motor is configured to blow air over the heater core where it is heated and to circulate the conditioned air throughout the car’s ductwork. If the fan motor fails to activate, it is most often one of two issues. Either you have a burnt fuse in the fan blower circuitry, or the fan motor itself is fried.
5. Low Coolant Levels
Inadequate coolant levels could lead to your car’s heater not working properly. Low coolant levels certainly can cause other issues, some major, with the operation of your car. However, when there is a shortage of coolant within the system, there is not enough coolant to heat the heater core.
Heating issues with a car are not always easy to correct. A blown fan motor or heater core, for example, could result in great repair bills. Keeping coolant levels and periodic flushing of the coolant system can lengthen the life of your vehicle’s heating parts.