How To Tell if your Heater Core is Going Bad

The heater core of a vehicle performs a vital task. It is a device that provides heat inside a car during winter time. Its parts consist of a winding tube through which air from the engine hot coolant passes, a heat exchanger and fins that are joined to the core tubes that act as medium in transferring heat to the passenger room of  a car. The heater core is actually the “life savior” for a car because it is responsible for keeping the passengers of a car warm and safe during harsh winter. If the heater core is not working right, there is risk that the passengers might just catch frost bite or worse, freeze in the middle of a snowy road. It is important that you check and maintain the heater core of your car all the time to make sure it is functioning well. Here are tips on how to tell if your heater core is going bad:

  • Look if the antifreeze is properly passing through the winding tubes. Smell the car to make sure there are no leaks. If you smell the scent of antifreeze or you see wet patches at the foot rest of the passenger part, then there must be a leak and the antifreeze is not fully contained in the heater core.
  • Take note of any malfunctioning in the ducts and vents. Are there deformities in the pipes? Is it possible that there is a hole somewhere? Find the answers to these questions by checking each part of the heater core. Be mindful of smoke and fog coming out from the ducts and vents as you go through this procedure.
  • Go over the thermostat and the radiator. Make sure both parts are in good condition. The thermostat is the one that controls the temperature in the car. It should be able to provide heat inside through the radiator. If the radiator contains a lot of water, then it means the heater core is malfunctioning because it is not able to transport the heat from the radiator to the car interior.
  • Test the car heater. Start the engine and turn on the heater then observe if the car gets warmed up after a few minutes. Keep the engine running for a while to observe if the heat is maintained inside for longer duration. If you notice the temperature is dropping and the car is not getting any warmer inside, then the heater core must be checked. Get out of the car and lift its hood. Be careful as you do this because the radiator can be very hot. Check the hoses connected from the engine to the heater core. There are two hoses attached to both parts. Feel the hoses with your hands to see if they are hot. If one or both are cold, have your heater core repaired by an expert mechanic.
  • Find out the extent of the damage in your heater core. Open the radiator and remove all its contents. Do this when the engine is turned off and has cooled. Flush out the antifreeze as well and dispose them carefully following disposal directions from the environment agency of the government. Remove all the coolant from the radiator and refill. This step should correct the problem with the heater core. Otherwise, it needs to be replaced already.

Checking the heater core of defects is a dangerous task. For all you know, the radiator might burst or the leaks when hot might scald your skin. If you are not sure how to go about the whole process, entrust the job to an expert mechanic.


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