Cooling System Maintenance -- Why It's Important
Your car’s cooling system does more than preventing the engine from overheating and boiling over in the summer. It’s also vital in protecting the engine from freeze ups in the winter.
The heater core is at the heart of it all. It looks like a smaller version of the radiator and is typically situated behind the dashboard on the passenger side. Hot coolant from the engine circulates through the heater core, with a valve controlling the amount that flows through and regulates temperature. The heat is then diverted through the HVAC system’s vents, either to the defroster ducts or to the cabin.
Coolant, a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and distilled water, contains anticorrosion agents that help prevent a buildup of scale in the radiator, water pump, thermostat and heater core. The radiator and heater core in particular have some very small passages to dissipate heat – and these passages can easily be obstructed by corrosion buildup.
If your heater isn’t working properly, these are some possible reasons why:
- Fan has failed, due to a failed relay, switch or the fan motor itself
- Problems with the climate control or thermostat in the climate control system (if so equipped)
- Damper door for the heater duct is stuck
- Vehicle has run so low on coolant that there’s not enough to circulate through the system and heater core
- Heater core is clogged with corrosion or has begun to leak. A failed heater core will result in a strong antifreeze smell when the heater is turned on, and can even soak the passenger side carpeting with coolant.
There’s no reason to have this happen. Keeping up on your cooling system maintenance is something that should be done year-round, usually at an interval of 30,000 miles or so (check owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations).
Don’t get stuck with a vehicle that won’t heat up in the winter (or overheats easily in the summer). Make an appointment with us at Don Duncan’s All-American Auto and Tire Centers in Montgomery, AL for comprehensive cooling system service, and make it part of your vehicle’s regular preventive maintenance.