When the weather is cold and icy, it is imperative that the heater and defroster in your car are working correctly. A damaged heater core can cause you to lose the heat in your vehicle entirely and allow coolant to leak inside the vehicle, damaging the interior and producing an odor that makes it unpleasant to ride in the car. There are some signs that can help determine if the heater core could be damaged and if you need an auto repair technician to check it.
Signs of Heater Core Failure
One of the first indications that you may have an issue with the heater core in your care is a strong odor of coolant inside the car. The coolant has a sweet smell that is extremely pungent and hard to ignore, but if you are starting to smell it, it is because there is coolant escaping from the cooling system, and the only place inside the car that that happens is at the heater core or in the lines that feed it.
The floor on the passenger's side of the car may start to get wet as the leaking coolant runs down the inside of the firewall and onto the carpet and floorboard. The coolant can damage the carpeting badly, and if you see this, it is vital to get the car into an auto repair shop.
Another sign that the heater core is failing is moisture accumulating on the inside of the windshield. When the heater core is leaking, the air passing through it on the way to the passenger compartment can pick up moisture. If you are running your defroster and start to notice moisture building up on the inside of the glass, it may very well be moisture getting into the vents.
Repairing The Heater Core
The heater core is a small brass or copper heat exchanger that circulates hot coolant through it so the heater fan can force air through it to create heat in the car, but it is so small that it gets tucked in tight spots and most people never know it is there.
The heater core is typically located behind the dash of your car, near the glove compartment. In many cases, the only way to reach it is to remove the glove compartment and some dash panels. Once the auto repair tech gets to it, changing it takes about five minutes, but the work getting to it and then putting the dash back together can take several hours.
The cost to replace a heater core can be high, but you will not have heat in the car if you ignore it. Eventually, the leaking coolant can damage parts of the vehicle and allow the engine to overheat, potentially damaging it.
To learn more, contact an auto repair service.