A faulty heater core will turn driving around in your car into a nightmare as a result of severe changes in the temperature inside your car. Here’s how to tell if the heater core in your car is faulty.
A heater core is part of a car’s cooling system. It looks like a miniature radiator, and it circulates coolant through its tubes, radiating heat into your cabin when you need it. It is also responsible for allowing your defroster function properly, and it is linked to the air-conditioning system.
The heater core is usually located behind the car dashboard, under the center of the passenger side. If your heater core malfunctions, you could experience severe change in the temperature of your car interior; it could get really cold when you are driving, or it could become really hot. Here are signs of a failing heater core:
PRESENCE OF FOG WITHIN THE VEHICLE
This is the most common symptom. You’ll know it when every window in your car is covered in moist, warm condensation. This is a result of your heater core getting blown while you are driving, after the engine warmed up. The warm coolant leaking into your car causes the fog, because the coolant was previously in a warm coolant system, and when it gets into the cooler air inside your car it causes the fog.
A SICKLY-SWEET, MELONY SMELL
Perhaps your car does not develop a fog when the heater core breaks. But when it happens, there will be a fruity, sickly-sweet smell in the air. This means that coolant has leaked into your car. you can also check underneath your vehicle if the smell comes from outside your car.
YOUR CAR SEEMS UNNATURALLY THIRSTY
If your car suddenly begins to consume an outrageous amount of coolant, you might have a blown heater core. Sometimes, when the leak is hard to find, it could be that the coolant is leaking into the cabin. Check the passenger-side floor for excessive sogginess, which is a sign of a leak.
EXCESSIVE COLD IN THE CAR
Now, this is not always a sign of a faulty heater core. Maybe your blower motor or another component of the heater has gone bad. But if you see this symptom, along with a noticeable chill in the car, you might want to check out your heater core.
COLD CABIN, HOT ENGINE
If you notice that your car keeps overheating, you might want to check your heater core. There are many other parts of the car that could cause overheating, though. If your heater stops putting out heat, and your engine seems warm, check for a coolant leak elsewhere, or some other issue with your car.