This is the time of year when we all appreciate a little extra warmth and comfort. This is especially true when we climb into our icy vehicles and head out into the wind and snow. Although it is easy to just assume that heat will always be there when you press a button or turn the dial, you want to be certain you can rely on your car’s heater to perform properly.
How Does Your Car Heater Work?
Your car heater is actually a system of components. The heater core acts as a heat exchanger, distributing heat into the cabin of the car. Heat is transferred from the engine to the heater core through a liquid called coolant. Coolant pumps through the engine to cool it to protect it from overheating. The heat is recycled and sent to the radiator, then circulated to the heater core. Since the engine is the original heat source for the car’s heater, the heat increases as the engine runs.
What Can Go Wrong With The Heater?
When your car’s heating doesn’t work, there two problems that are the most common causes:
Coolant flow issues can often be attributed to a plug in the heater core. Your auto technician will be able to find and remove the plug to correct the issue.
Air flow problems are commonly caused by a malfunctioning, or stuck blend door. These doors are the flaps inside the ducts that open and close to allow or prevent heat from coming through the vents into the passenger compartment.
Get your car checked out by your auto technician as soon as you notice heating problems to decrease the chances of you getting stuck in the cold.
How Can I Optimize My Car Heater Performance?
Consumer Reports has some interesting tips to help you get the most out of your car’s heating system. Here are a few:
Resist the urge to crank the heat when you first get in the car. Your car needs time to get the heat circulating, since that heat comes from a running engine. Turning the heat flow all the way up as soon as you start the car just blasts everyone with cold air – it is more effective (and comfortable) to let your car run for a while first.
Keep the A/C on to help prevent the windows from fogging up. Your air conditioning compressor removes humidity/moisture from the air before it is heated by the heating core. Without conditioning, the moisture in the air collects on the cold windows and impacts your invisibility. Taking the system off of “recirculation mode” also helps prevent fogging.
Stay safe and stay warm!