With summer fast approaching, it can be tempting to ignore vehicle heating issues for just a little bit longer. After all, why should you repair your heater when you want to do everything you can to escape the heat for the next few months? Unfortunately, ignoring a lack of heat for the summer can sometimes be a costly mistake.
If you want to understand why you shouldn't put off this vital auto service repair, you first must understand a bit about how your car's heater works.
Your Car's Cooling System
Your car's manufacturer designed its motor to work within a specific, safe temperature range. An engine that's running too cold will not operate efficiently, while one that's running too hot will eventually stop functioning altogether. Your car's cooling system helps to maintain your engine in its ideal temperature range, but it doesn't work alone.
The warm air your feel from your vents over the cold winter months is a form of secondary cooling. The hot coolant from your engine bay circulates into your car's heater core, where it releases its heat into the air. Your blower motor then distributes this heat into the cabin and away from the core, reducing the coolant temperature and helping it to cool the engine.
Signs of Deeper Trouble
When your car's heat doesn't work, it can potentially indicate an underlying problem with the cooling system. Since the heater core relies on your car's coolant to warm the cabin air, cold air from your vents may mean that there is an issue with the coolant temperature or a blockage in the system. Even if your car isn't currently overheating, these problems can cause trouble later on.
In some cases, the problem may be limited to the heater loop. For most cars, this part of the system consists of the heater core and heater hoses that lead back into the engine bay. A clog in the heater core or one of the coolant lines can prevent heat from reaching the cabin. Even worse, it can reduce the overall efficiency of your car's cooling system.
A lack of heat may also be the result of a thermostat that's stuck open. Most thermostats fail "safely," meaning that they fail open instead of closed. This design means that your engine won't overheat, but a thermostat stuck in this way will prevent your engine from reaching its ideal operating temperature. As a result, your coolant doesn't heat up, and you don't get any warm air.
Dealing With Problems
To avoid the potential for deeper trouble, you should always have an experienced heating technician evaluate any problem with your car's heating system. Dealing with these problems is even more important as summer approaches since the warmer weather can stress an already weak cooling system. The sooner you have your problem fixed, the less likely you will be to suffer costly repairs in the future.