Hot Air And Heater Cores
Winter’s coming (eventually) and now’s better than never to get your heater core fixed. Don’t catch a cold (ride) a few months from now because you didn’t get your heater fixed when you had the chance. One of the most important parts of your heating system is the heating core. So, today, let’s talk about your heater core: what is a heater core, signs your heater core is broken, and where you can get your heater core fixed in Chico, CA.
What is a Heater Core?
A heater core looks like a small radiator and it’s used to pass hot air into the cabin of your vehicle.
The way it does this is rather interesting:
Hot engine coolant (aka radiator fluid) constantly recycles through the engine cooling system in order to keep it from overheating.
Some of that hot engine coolant can be passed through heater core, which is hollow. This heats up the heater core which in turn heats the air around the core.
A centrifugal”squirrel cage” fan blows over the hot heater core pushing hot air through the air vents and into the cabin.
Special fins on the heater core increase the total heated surface area which in turn increases the amount of heated air that can be blown into the cabin. The unit is usually made of aluminum or brass to improve heat conductivity.
It’s a rather clever way to use heat already generated by the engine to warm the cabin, and it saves trouble with car parts and complicated auto repairs on an entirely separate heating system.
Signs Your Heater Core is Broken
You might be asking yourself “Why doesn’t my car blow warm air?” There are a number of different signs of heater core problems that depend on what aspect of the heating system is broken. These signs include:
Engine coolant is glycol based (think sugars), which gives off a sweet or fruit smelly when burned. If you smell odd sweet smells whenever your car or truck has been running long enough to heat the engine, or while the heater is being used, there’s a good chance radiator fluid/engine coolant is leaking, touching a heated surface, and then burning off.
Hard to tell exactly where the leak is without a flashlight and some elbow grease. Often this is a strong sign that it’s time to stop by a heater technician or general auto shop and make sure you get a full vehicle diagnosis, at least on anything connected to the heater core or heating system.
Extremely Foggy Windows
If your windows keep fogging up for no reason, this may be coolant evaporating into the cabin of your vehicle. Since it doesn’t evaporate as fast as normal moisture, it builds up and creates a confusing situation where you can’t seem to get it off no matter how you jiggle the HVAC controls.
Again, you probably need to see an car tech for situations like this.
Cold Air Blowing Into Cabin
Especially if the engine is already hot, there should be heat coming in through the system. It’s a pretty obvious sign that something is wrong with maybe the heater core or something else in the heating system if there’s not hot air coming out. Obviously.
In rare cases, it may just take a moment for your car to heat enough that the radiator fluid is hot enough to warm the cabin. But this is rarely the case in properly functioning systems heating and again this is a strong sign that it’s time for auto service.
Engine Coolant Runs Low Quickly
If your coolant is magically running low far too fast, more often than not there’s a leak. Usually you can see evidence pretty clearly on the ground under your engine as with any fluid leak. On some vehicles, coolant may even drip into the cabin from the heater core underneath the dashboard.
If you’re running low on coolant all the time, and it smells sweat and your windows are always foggy, and on top of it all your heater isn’t working, then you’ve pretty much narrowed the problem down at that point.
Need Heater Core Repairs?
Unfortunately, the heater core isn’t a particularly accessible or user-servicable system, even though its layout and operation seems fairly simple on paper. If you are experiencing heater core problems, you’re probably gonna need a garage or someone else’s to get the job done.
Thankfully, Tedious Repairs is here to do the job for you! We’re some of the best heating repair techs in Chico, CA and our prices are affordable too. We work hard to get the job done both fast and right, and keep you informed every step of the way. Whether it’s heating system service, vehicle diagnostics, tire alignment, oil changes, or anything in between, we’ve got you covered.
Use the information below to get in touch at your earliest convenience. Thanks for reading and tune in next week for more auto repair advice from Chico’s #1 auto shop.
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