The heater core is a part of your vehicle’s cooling system. The heater core collects some of the hot coolant that circulates around your engine. As the coolant passes through the heater core, a variable speed blower fan blows the resulting hot air out into the interior of the car. With a properly working heater core, you will be able to control how warm your car gets through a knob on the dashboard. A failing heater core will remove this ability as well as cause issues when trying to defog your windows, reducing your visibility.
Signs of a bad heater core
The heater core is one of the only components that can leak into your interior when there is an issue. This creates unique problems with the heater core when it starts to go bad. Many heater core issues stem from poor or improper maintenance. Be sure to flush and replace your coolant regularly to avoid issues. The following signs should be watched for so that you can get your heater core repaired as soon as possible.
- Little or no heat inside your vehicle – If your temperature gauge is reading normal and you have no other issues with your cooling system but are still having trouble heating up your car, chances are it’s your heater core starting to go bad.
- Smell of coolant is present inside of your vehicle – Your heater core may start to leak in the early stages of failure, causing the coolant smell inside the car. The coolant will smell sweet and fruity. Stop-leak products only provide a temporary solution to the issue, so it is best to avoid them and go straight to a car care professional.
- Windows fog up – When coolant leaks from your heater core get severe, it may start to produce a mist on the inside of your vehicle that fogs up your windows. This is bad not only because the mist is difficult to wash off, but because breathing in those fumes is harmful to your health.
- Coolant leak from underneath the dashboard – The heater core is located right behind the dashboard, so if you notice fluid leaking from that area, you know that you have a coolant leak in your heater core. You may even notice damp stains on your front carpeting.
- Engine is running hot – coolant leaks from the heater core result in less coolant getting to the engine which will cause it to overheat. If your temperature gauge keeps reading hot or you notice a leak, it’s time to get your vehicle checked out.
Heater core maintenance
When issues arise with the car’s heater core, often the best course of action is to get it replaced. Since the heater core is located deep inside of your vehicle, your mechanic will have to disassemble several in-dash systems in order to reach it and make the necessary repairs or replacement. Many of the signs above may also be indicative of issues with the heater hoses instead of the heater core, which is a less laborious and less expensive repair. Your mechanic will likely inspect both before moving forward with a repair or replacement of either.
The best way to get maintenance on your heater core is to book an appointment using CarAdvise. CarAdvise makes car care simple and guarantees that you’ll pay less than the shop price for all services.« Back to Glossary Index