Can a car heater break?

hand checking for heat

Don’t be left in the cold

A typical car heater is heated by the passing of hot coolant, usually a combination of water and antifreeze. That coolant is forced through the heater core by a squirrel cage fan. Once that coolant has blown through various vents in the vehicle’s cabin, it then returns to the engine.  This process is crucial during cold and rainy weather not only for warming the interior, but to defrost the windshield for visibility. 

When the car heater isn’t working properly during the dead of winter, the cost of car heater repair may not be as much of a concern as other times in the year for obvious reasons. Unless you know how to repair a car heater fan, it is important to have a trustworthy, experienced and knowledgeable of a car heater repair shop is valuable when you need car heater fan repair.

Why is my car blowing out cold air when the heat is on?

When the car heater suddenly starts blowing cold air, it can be frustrating, especially on an early morning when the temperature is below freezing. Is there anything to make the winter miserable than a car heater that doesn’t work? When your car heater isn’t heating, there are several issues that could be causing it. Taking your car to an authorized car repair center is the best way to get right to the problem and getting it repaired.  

What would cause the heater to stop working in a car?

Car issues can be simple as fixing a flat tire or as complicated as a rod knocking. When it comes to the car heater, they seem simple enough. Yet, they are complicated enough to make you scratch your head in bewilderment. There are numerous components that can potentially be the problem when a car heater quits heating, which we are going to review here:

  • Coolant Level:Cars today require a coolant, which is typically a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water. This keeps the car engine cool during the hot summer months. Through the colder months of winter, that same coolant is in the engine pulls into the heater core, warming the air that blows through the various vents in your car.
  • At first, it takes a few minutes for that coolant to become warm, thus, the air blowing through the car heater vents will be cold. If it doesn’t heat in a few minutes, check the coolant level and add accordingly.
  • Heater Core: A malfunctioning car heater can often be from the heater core. They make heater cores of either aluminum or brass tubing and are an important part of the cooling system. It looks like a compact radiator and the heated coolant is then carried in and back out through the heater core. From there is where the fan you turn on inside your car that disperses the heat from that heated coolant.
  • When a car heater isn’t heating and there is enough coolant in the radiator, this can sometimes show that the heater core isn’t working properly. As a result, the blower motor air isn’t reaching the coolant, indicating a clog in the heater core tube.
  • Heater Control: The heater control knobs can become sticky and quit working. You can locate the heater control valve under the hood and is the switch that operates the on and off car heater at the engine. If your car heater isn’t working and you’ve checked coolant levels, and the heater core appears to be working, there could be an issue with the control buttons or the heater control valve.
  • Thermostat Malfunctioning: The thermostat senses when the engine has reached a certain level of heat and sends the coolant to the heater core. After your car has been running for a bit, it the thermostat gauge doesn’t move from “C”, the thermostat could be malfunctioning. Thermostats are relatively inexpensive and simple to replace. An experienced and reliable mechanic and replace your car’s thermostat and get your car heater working properly again.
  • Water Leak: Another common problem when a car heater isn’t working is a water leak, and there are several places a car’s heating system can leak. There are hoses that can leak, the radiator, and the water pump. When any of these components are leaking, a car heater won’t function. There are various places water can leak from a car engine. It is important to have the hoses checked periodically, as well as the radiator and water pump. If any of these three are leaking, your car heater won’t work properly.

Can I drive my car with a bad heater core?

Yes, a car can still be driven with a bad heater core. Cars are often driven without the driver knowing it is bad – until their car heater doesn’t warm up one winter morning. Once you know that you have a bad heater core, experts recommended not to drive the car for a long-distance for a long time without having it repaired. A heater core also keeps the coolant/water combination at a safe temperature for the engine.

How do you know if your car heater core is bad?

What if your car heater doesn’t warm up, and you have checked the coolant level, the control knobs are working fine, and you’ve had the heater control valve checked, then it could be the heater core. A few indications that the problem is with the heater core are:

  • The windows of your car fog up inside
  • A fruit, sweet odor fills your car
  • You must add coolant often
  • The engine overheats
adjusting heat

How expensive is it to replace a heater core?

Heater core repair or replacement will vary between mechanic shops, the make, and model of your car. Typically, the parts are not that expensive; it is the labor that is the biggest part of the repair/replacement charges.

To make certain that your car heater is in working condition, any hint of a malfunction, have your car checked out by an authorized, experienced, reputable mechanic. Many times, addressing the issue early on can prevent major expenses of repairing or replacing the heater core. Call (805) 466-3236 today when you need car heater repair in Atascadero, CA!