Signs of a Bad Car Heater Core, Northwest Auto Center of Houston

Don’t be alarmed if you’re uncertain where your car heater core is located or what its function is. This vehicle component isn’t often talked about until something goes wrong, at which point, a costly repair may be needed to fix it. The heater core is located behind/under the dashboard, so most drivers never see it.

Driving with a busted car heater core can be both uncomfortable and dangerous. During the winter, a clogged heater core will lead to a cold passenger cabin. A bad heater core can also lead to an overheated engine (if the core is leaking; thereby causing the coolant level to not be sufficient) and potentially extensive repair work.

Seeing a trend? You really want your car heater core to be working efficiently and correctly.

What Does a Car Heater Core Do?

The heater core in a vehicle operates as a small radiator. It circulates the hot coolant through the cabin of the vehicle, which enables the heater to function during the winter months. When a heater core gets clogged, the passenger cabin will be cold and there will be no way to warm it up.

Without a functioning heater core, the defroster doesn’t work efficiently, which can lead to foggy windows, especially when the temperature drops quickly. Repair costs for a faulty heater core are on the higher end due to the location of the component — its tricky placement behind/under the dashboard, makes it difficult to get to; consequently, the labor cost can be high.

What Are the Signs of a Bad Heater Core?

When a car heater core goes bad, it’s not always obvious to the driver that there’s a problem. You may not realize this until you go to use the heater and the defroster in the wintertime. If you try to turn on the heater for the first time on a cold winter morning and no hot air comes out, you have a problem on your hands.

No Heat Blowing

Naturally, when you request heat, you expect warm air to come out. If the air that’s coming through the vents is cold air when you turn the knob, a clogged heater core may be the culprit. There can be other reasons for the aforementioned, like a faulty control head, door actuator or a broken HVAC door, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Foggy Interior

If you’re noticing a fog on your windows or a greasy film on the inside, this can be due to a leaking heater core. When a car heater core leaks, you may also notice a foggy smoke coming from the vents which can make it difficult to see the road in a safe manner. Many times, you can smell a sweet odor, which is coolant/anti-freeze leaking.

Coolant Loss

If the heater core is leaking, it will cause the coolant system to lose coolant. Continuous low coolant levels can overheat the engine and result in damage. If you’re topping off your coolant level frequently, this is a sure sign to have your vehicle checked out by a professional.

Need Your Heater Core Replaced? We’ve Got You Covered.

Nobody wants to head into the winter season with a bad heater core. At Northwest Auto Center of Houston, we can inspect, repair, or replace your car heater core. If you’ve noticed that your car isn’t blowing warm air when you turn the heater on or your engine keeps overheating, give us a call today at (281) 894-8880. We’re always here to help!!