If you’re having car trouble and someone mentioned that it could be your heater core, you might be wondering what the heck a heater core is, what it does, and what can happen to your vehicle when it breaks. But not to worry, these are common questions and we’re about to give you some quick and easy answers. We may look like a simple oil change shop, but really, we can handle just about any auto repair need you have.
What’s a Heater Core and what does it do?
The heater core is a component of the Cooling System. It looks like a smaller version of your radiator because essentially, it is.
The heater core is what operates your car’s heating and defrosting functions. It circulates coolant (radiator fluid) through two hoses so as not to overheat while sending warm air into the cabin of your vehicle and keeping your windows from fogging up.
Where is the heater core located?
The heater core is almost always located behind the dashboard and is typically buried behind nearly every other component in this area. You will rarely find the heater core in other locations. In most vehicles, we can get to it by going under the hood, but sometimes it’s necessary to take the dashboard apart. Unfortunately, that lengthens the time of the project, and thus, the estimated cost. Heater core repairs usually cost anywhere between $150-$1,000, depending on the vehicle.
How can I tell if my heater core has gone bad?
You’re fogged out. The most common sign of a heater core problem is when the inside of you vehicle suddenly fogs up, covering every window with condensation. The means that the mechanism has sprung a leak, spewing hot coolant vapor into the cabin of your car, which often happens as you’re driving and the engine has had time to warm up.
There’s a sticky sweet smell. Whether or not you get fogged out, when your heater core breaks you’re bound to smell a sweet, humid aroma. This is the smell of coolant and a sure sign that radiator fluid is leaking. You might also catch a whiff of coolant around the outside of your vehicle. If so, take a look at the ground under your car for a spill.
You’re going through a ton of coolant. If your vehicle is suddenly more thirsty for fluid than ever and you can’t figure out where it’s all going, odds are your heater core is toast. The likely reason you can’t find a leak is because the coolant is escaping when the system is cold and dripping right into your cabin. To confirm this, check the passenger side floor for moisture.
Your heater isn’t working. Another glaring sign of a bad heater core is a simple lack of heat. While it could just be the blower motor or another part of the system that has failed, if you’re seeing any other signs it’s a definite indicator. There’s likely a hole in your heater core that’s allowing warm air to escape before it reaches your cabin. Depending on the size of the hole, you could be getting a luke warm breeze or none at all.
Your vehicle has overheated. If your car overheats you’ll definitely want to check on the overall health of your cooling system, including your heater core. While your radiator could be the culprit, there are other parts of your engine that can cause it to overheat. Extreme heat is a serious problem for all sorts of major components in your vehicle’s engine, and without the necessary service they’ll start to break down in record time.
If you experience any sign of a bad heater core, bring your vehicle into Grease Monkey right away! Call us for a rough service estimate today.