A vehicle with no heat can be pretty hard to handle when the temperatures start plunging.  One of the first things you should do when experiencing problems with your automobile heating system is see if you are even producing heat.  Our Columbia, SC Auto Repair Pro is discussing how to see if your heating system is even creating heat at all.

There are many culprits that could be to blame for a failing heater.  The most basic part of the problem is diagnosing whether or not your engine heat is making its way to the heater core.  Let’s have a look at how the heating system works.

How Automotive Cooling Systems and Heating Systems Work

To start, your engine turns a blend of fuel and air into mini-explosions.  This generates a vast amount of heat within the engine.  This extreme heat is why we have to have a cooling system.  Your automotive cooling system relies on a water pump to circulate your anti-freeze or coolant and water blend.  This 50-50 coolant blend flows through the engine.   Your radiator releases some of the engine’s heat. The thermostat, which determines when there is a need to cool your engine, is also a very important part of the cooling system.  Now, we add in some high temp rubber hose and your heater core, and you have the heating system.  Your heater core is similar to a radiator.  The heater core transfers heat into the vehicle to keep you warm, and it includes a fan that blows over the heater core’s fins to move the heated air.  Now that you understand the basic functions and purposes of the cooling and heating systems in your automobile, we can do some troubleshooting why your auto heater isn’t working right.

Getting hot?

First we need to see if the heater core is actually filling up with the hot coolant that it needs in order to transfer heat.  This is a pretty simple test actually.  Driving at a speed of about 40 mph or higher, turn on your heater.  If any warm air at all is making it through, even a little bit, more than likely your heater core is getting what it needs.

Heat present but not blowing

The next step is to check on the heater fan.  Make sure the switch is on and then check the vents as you switch between each fan speed.  In some cases a fan will work on some but not all fan speeds.  If there is still no heat blowing at any of the speeds, check your fuses.

No Heat at All

If no heat was felt during the driving at 40 mph + test above, the heater core is not getting the proper circulation it needs to perform.  Start by checking your coolant level.  If the coolant levels are good, you are most likely looking at water pump trouble or a faulty thermostat.  If you have not been experiencing issues with overheating, it is probably the thermostat.  Your thermostat has to open and close circuits within the cooling and heating systems.  If the thermostat becomes stuck it can cause either too much or no coolant to flow through the system.  Replacing a thermostat is a pretty basic auto repair.

Click here for a step by step tutorial on how to replace the thermostat in your vehicle.

If you believe the issue is with your water pump instead, have a look at this article by the

Columbia, SC Auto Repair Pro on When to Replace a Water Pump.

If you have problems with your auto’s heater and would like a mechanic you can trust to have a look at it, come by our auto repair shop in Columbia, SC.  We can fix all of your heater problems, cooling system trouble, or any other auto repair for any car, foreign or domestic.  Our ASE Certified Master Mechanic is here to serve all of your automotive needs.  Contact us today to set an auto repair appointment to fit your schedule.  Don’t spend this winter stuck in the cold!  Let’s Sanford’s Automotive Service provide the cooling system or heating repairs you need now!