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Car Heater Problems

If you are on the lookout for some tips on troubleshooting car heater problems, this article will be a helpful read. Keep reading ahead to know all about solving heater issues.
Picture this. You are traveling in your car on a chilly winter day and suddenly the heater stops working, blowing cold air! If you don't want to bring upon such a nightmarish situation upon yourself, I suggest that you deal with your car heater problems without any delay.

For diagnosing and troubleshooting heater issues, you need to know how the heater mechanism works, to provide warmth in the car interiors. Once you are acquainted with the inner working of the heater mechanism, you will be in a better position to deal with car problems, related to it.

Heater Function

A car heater doesn't use an electric coil as its heating mechanism. The heat needed to keep the car insides warm in winter, is generated by the car engine itself. Through every explosive combustion reaction that occurs in the car engine, a tremendous amount of heat is generated, which would melt it, if not divert away by the circulating engine coolant. Part of the heat is diverted towards the car radiator and the rest is transmitted to the heater core, from where it is made to dissipate into the car interiors by fan induced air circulation. The heated air enters the car interiors through vents.

Thus, the car is self sufficient in terms of generating the heat required to keep its interiors warm. There are several car parts that come into play to make the heating system work. The central component is the heater core, which is like a radiator, through which coolant passes, dissipating heat. There is a control valve that comes into play when you need to switch on or switch off the heater mechanism. Then there is the fan mechanism powered by the motor which helps in transmitting the radiated heat into the car. Heater problems may be related to the malfunctioning of any of these parts.

Troubleshooting Heater Issues

Let's look at the major car heater problems that you may need to deal with.

Blocked Core
The heater cores has tubes, through which the engine coolant flows to transmit heat to the core through conduction, which then radiates this heat. With prolonged use, these coolant transmission tubes may get blocked and stop supplying coolant. This leads to a reduction of heat supplied to the car insides. In such a situation, you may find a car heater blowing cold air. The recommended fix for this problem is to replace the heater core entirely with a new one.

Failing Control Valve
Another common problem which may lead to a situation, where you find heater dysfunctional is the failing of the control valve, which switches on and switches off the coolant flow towards the heater. Check out the control valve and get it replaced if it's beyond repair.

Failed Fan Motor
Another major problem is the failing of the fan, which blows hot air into the car interiors. If you find a reduction in the efficiency of the heater, it may be because of the fan motor failure. You will have to get the motor tested from a car repair center and get it replaced to restore normal functionality.

Drop in Coolant Level
Another reason for the drop in the efficiency of the heater is a drop in the coolant, which transmits the heat from the engine to the car interior. A coolant fluid leak will not only cause heater issues, it may also cause car overheating problems. Check out for coolant fluid leaks and refill fluid back again to restore functionality.

To avoid more heater breakdown problems, it's a good idea to get the system checked before the onset of winter. Make it a point to check out heaters, as a part of regular car maintenance schedule. That way, you can nip most of the problems in the bud before they escalate.
By Omkar Phatak
Last Updated: 9/20/2011
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