Is Your Car’s Heater Core Going Bad?

Your car’s heater core tackles multiple jobs in your car’s engine beyond just giving you warm air inside the passenger area. In other words, you don’t want it to malfunction. Thankfully, there are signs that clue you in to a heater core problem. Here’s what they are and how Hummel’s Automotive Diagnostic & Repair can help.

You’ve Got More Fog on Your Windows than Usual

Part of what your car’s heater core does is provide heat for the defrost setting. If the mix of hot and cold air isn’t just right inside the cabin, it causes trouble when you need to get rid of some fog. The core can throw off this hot/cold air mix and fog up rather than clear up your windows. It’s dangerous if you can’t see out your windows.

You’re Smelling Old Fruit

Your car’s heater core uses hot antifreeze to warm up the air that it sends through your car’s vents. When it burns or gets too hot, antifreeze can smell sweet, a bit like rotten fruit. If you’re smelling that kind of smell when you turn on the heater, that likely means that somewhere in the system there’s a leak and coolant is dripping onto a hot engine part.

You’re Replacing Coolant Often

It’s really easy to check your engine’s coolant reserves. Unlike other fluids, all you need to do is pop the hood and look at the overflow reservoir. If you find you’re topping that up a lot more than you used to, that could mean you’re dealing with a leak somewhere, possibly in the heater core. When you’re filling it up often, it’s a bigger leak than you might think.

Your Car Is Overheating

You might think it’s counterintuitive that your car might overheat if your heater core is going bad, but the reason for this is how the system is set up. Because the core uses coolant, a problem with the heater core means that coolant isn’t getting cooled back down and hot coolant is going back through the engine. That leaves your car with no way to cool itself.

You Can’t Get Warm Air in the Car’s Interior Cabin

One of the biggest ways you can tell that your heater core isn’t working well is that you end up shivering. Most heaters take a little while to heat up when you turn the car on because the coolant needs to heat up to transfer that heat to the core. But if that process isn’t working, then you’re not going to get hot air no matter how long you let the car run.

If you’re concerned about your heater core, contact us at Hummel’s Automotive Diagnostic & Repair in St. George, UT.


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