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Maintain Your Vehicle’s Heater Now So it Runs All Winter Long

Murphy’s law says if something can go wrong, it will. We tend to be a bit more optimistic here at Crossroads Automotive. For example, common sense can trump Murphy’s law easily, i.e. have your vehicle’s heater inspected now so nothing goes wrong in the winter. We get pretty cold here in Topeka, and you don’t want to end up with a dead heater core in 20-degree weather.

Heater Core 101

To understand how the heater core affects your vehicle’s cabin air you must understand how it works. We like to refer to the heater core as a little radiator because it looks like one. It has tubes that circulate engine coolant just as the radiator does; the difference is that it doesn’t store the liquid to cool it down. Rather, it uses the coolant’s heat, which the fluid draws from the engine, to warm the air before it flows through your vents. The heater core also uses this heat to help your windshield defroster work.

How many heater cores your automobile’s engine has depends on your air-conditioning and heating system. The standard number of heater cores is one, and you’ll find only one in automobiles with standard heating. If you drive a newer car that allows your passenger to adjust his or her own temperature, your engine has two heater cores. Add another heater core to the engine if you drive an SUV, large truck, or luxury automobile with heating controls for the passengers in the backseat.

Signs the Heater Core Is Dying

The average lifespan of a heater core is 10 years, but they can have problems earlier than that. The most common problem heater cores have is a leak. Signs your vehicle’s heater core is leaking include

  • A sweet smell coming through the vents
  • Foggy windows that cannot be defrosted
  • Cold/tepid air even though the heater is on
  • Low coolant levels with no explanation
  • Cold interior yet the engine is too hot

To explain further, if your heater core has a leak, you might smell engine coolant, which is the sweet odor coming through the vents. The leak can also affect the heater core’s ability to warm the air or defrost the windows because there isn’t any hot coolant in it. This will lower your radiator and overflow’s coolant levels and also cause your engine to overheat… all because of the heater core.

Don’t fret. Let Crossroads Automotive inspect your heater core now so we can make any necessary repairs before wintertime. Call our Topeka, KS, auto service shop to schedule an appointment

Photo by Vera_Petrunina from Getty Images via Canva Pro
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