The heater core, also called a heater matrix, provides heating and engine cooling capacities in modern automobiles. Located behind the passenger-side firewall, it is designed like a small radiator with several columns of metal or plastic tubes through which coolant flows. After the heater core fails, however, it produces a world of headaches for motorists. This report investigates six signs of failing heater core, showing how drivers may troubleshoot this otherwise common problem with their vehicle.
Related: 7 Signs of a Blown Head Gasket
How to Tell if Your Heater Core is Failing
A heater core is an automotive component which utilizes hot coolant to project heated air into the car’s cabin. Also called a heater matrix, it acts as a miniature radiator. When you turn on the heater inside your vehicle’s cabin, a valve opens so that coolant becomes directed in the engine to the heater core. As the hot coolant travels through the heater core, a fan blows air over the center’s fins. That produces hot air that is projected through the vents inside your vehicle’s cabin.
No automotive element lasts forever, however, and heater cores are no exception. It’s not unusual for heater cores to fail after about to 15 years, using a failed coolant system, failure can occur even earlier. Unfortunately, diagnosis is not always simple. Since the heater core typically is behind the passenger-side firewall, you can not view it without taking apart the dashboard and other surrounding parts. But there are a number of signs you can search for that indicate a failed or failing heater core.
Condensation on Windows
It is normal for condensation to appear on the inside of your vehicle’s windows. That typically happens when the air out your car is colder than the air in the vehicle. The temperature nuances between both of these environments cause moisture to settle on the inside of your windows, leading to fog.
Turning on the cabin heater or defroster should remove condensation on your windows– but only if the heater core is working correctly. If your heater is ruptured, pressurized coolant will escape when you turn on the heater or defroster. The coolant-filled atmosphere will then put in your vehicle’s cabin in which it causes condensation to form on the windows.
Wet Passenger-Side Floorboard
A wet passenger-side floorboard can also indicate a leaking heater core, the most common type of failure. Coolant will trickle down behind the passenger-side firewall, some of which may leak through the firewall and on the floorboard. A failed air-conditioner evaporator core can result in a wet passenger-side floorboard also. The gap, however, is that a faulty heater core will leave your passenger-side floorboard coated in coolant, whereas a collapsed evaporator core leaks water on the floor.
Low Coolant Level in Radiator
Your vehicle’s radiator should stay full of coolant. If you Find the coolant level is reduced one day, you might have a leaking heater core. The heater radiator and core. Meaning that a leaky heater center will cause Coolant leak out, leading to a low coolant level on your radiator.
Bear in mind that you should only check your radiator’s coolant level when the engine is totally cold. Removing the radiator cap on a hot engine can spray 200-degree pressurized coolant on your skin, so wait until the engine has finished cooled off. For extra protection against harm, cover the radiator cap with a towel and then turn slowly to remove it.
Room-Temperature Air Coming Out Vents
If you turn on the heater and find room-temperature air coming from the vents, you might have to replace your heater core. There are two principal components responsible for producing heat inside your vehicle’s cabin: the blower motor and the heater core. The blower motor is a small fan that blows air through the vents and into your vehicle’s cabin.
The heater core, on the other hand, is a mini radiator with columns of tubes through which hot coolant flows. If the blower motor has failed, you won’t feel any air coming from your vents. But if the heater has failed, however, the blower engine still works, you might feel room-temperature air coming out the vents.
Room-temperature air occurs whenever there’s little if any coolant flowing through the heater core, which is typically caused by a leaking heater core. The blower motor will still force air in your vehicle’s cottage, but without hot coolant flowing through the heater core, it will not produce hot air. Instead, the atmosphere will feel room temperature or only slightly warmer.
Sweet Smell Inside Cabin
Even if your passenger-side floorboard is dry and the windows are not fogging up, you might see a sweet odor inside your vehicle’s cabin once the heater core leaks. The major ingredient in the coolant is a natural compound known as ethylene glycol, and the vapors of this chemical have a distinctive sweet odor that lingers in the atmosphere.
If your heater core has a pinhole leak, a little bit of coolant may leak into your vehicle’s cabin. It might not be sufficient to cause moisture on the floorboard or chimney. Instead, the only indication of the leak is a sweet odor.
Engine Is Overheating
Since the heater core is part of your vehicle’s cooling system, failure of the component may cause your engine to overheat. That happens in one of two ways. First, a leaking heater core will shed coolant, reducing the quantity of heat that is released by the radiator.
Secondly, a clogged heater core will limit the flow of coolant through your cars cooling system, also reducing the quantity of heat that is released by the radiator. When either of these situations occurs, the motor will heat up to dangerous temperatures, at which point you should see the temperature needle in your dashboard climb to the red zone.
What Should I Do If My Heater Core Has Failed?
If you think that your car’s heater core has failed, you need to replace it as soon as possible. Besides, the brutally cold cabin inside you’ll have to endure throughout the winter, a faulty heater core could cause your vehicle’s engine to overheat, which may result in severe damage.
Some motors are more resistant to heat-related harm, but they all can experience blown gaskets, warpage or cracks if subjected to enough heat. By replacing your failed heater core, you can avoid these costly problems and revel in a cozy cabin when driving during the winter.