You may be wondering where the air in your passenger compartment comes from.
Well, as your engine starts to warm up, it also warms the coolant/antifreeze
that circulates around the engine and through the radiator. There is also a hose that moves coolant/antifreeze
from the engine to the heater core and another that takes it back into the engine. The heater core looks like a little radiator and lives in the air blend box behind the dashboard.
When you turn on the heat
, air blows over the heater core, is warmed, and comes into the cabin. Some vehicles have a heater valve that moves coolant through the heater core when the heat
is on and bypasses the heater core when the heat
is off. In other vehicles, the temperature of the air is controlled within the air blend box by how much air is directed over the heater core.
The engine cooling system
, in a larger sense, also encompasses the heater core. Things that adversely affect, say, your radiator will also harm your heater core. The coolant/antifreeze contains corrosion inhibitors that coat the surfaces inside the cooling system
, including the heater core
. When the corrosion inhibitors are depleted, the cooling system
can become corroded, filled with contaminants, and may even start to leak.
There are several signs that warn of a leaky heater core:
First you may a sweet smell from your vents. This is coolant leaking out and getting into the air.
You may see vapor coming out the vents and notice a film building up inside the windows. Of course, breathing coolant vapors is bad for you.
You may also see coolant on the driveway.
Depending on the design of your vehicle, you may even get coolant leaking out into the foot wells of the cabin.
Coolant/antifreeze leaking out through the heater core means that the overall coolant level in the system will be low and the engine is in danger of overheating – which is a cause of mechanical breakdown.
The good news is that the things you do to protect your cooling system
also protect your heater core
. Changing your coolant/antifreeze as directed by your owners manual or upon the recommendation of your Town Hill Auto Sales and Service advisor
will help ensure your coolant has enough corrosion inhibitors working to protect this system. Also, quickly repairing any leaks and inspecting hoses
for signs of internal breakdown will help keep any problem from becoming an emergency.
Make sure you with your friendly and knowledgeable Town Hill Auto Sales and Service service advisor about when a cooling system service
should be serviced.