When the mercury is boiling, and you cannot wait to get into an air-conditioned room, it's difficult to think about heating issues and whether your car's unit is in good shape for the winter ahead. However, time does fly and before you know it you will be shivering in your garage as you get ready to drive to work. Don't get caught out like you did last year and take some action now to service your vehicle's heater. Where should you start?
Assess How Everything Is Working
The average car heater relies on "free" hot water that is automatically produced by the engine when it is under load. This requires the use of two radiators which are connected through a complex piping system and technology that allows hot water to be diverted strategically.
The radiator at the front of your car is used to cool down the water that comes out of the engine so that it can be recycled, but some of this hot water needs to be diverted to the secondary radiator instead. This is located deep within the passenger cabin underneath the dashboard and is located next to an electric fan. When hot water enters this radiator, it is blown through the ducts to increase the temperature of the cabin.
Fix Faulty Valves
In most cars, the temperature and flow of this water is controlled by a simple device known as a thermostat. In a purely manual version the internal components will move and open a valve to a particular channel, whereas in a modern-day car it may be triggered by the central computer. Nevertheless, the thermostat can still "go bad" and stick in place and when this happens, you may not get any heat in that secondary radiator. Job number one here is to replace the thermostat.
Fix Clogged Pipes
As you may know, you need to put a very carefully-engineered product into your cooling system to help it function under extreme conditions. This is a combination of coolant and antifreeze and is very efficient, but it can cause sediment to build up over time within the pipework. Also, some of the rubber pipes that connect different parts can deteriorate and this will all lead to a buildup of "gunk." The miniature pipes within each radiator can be blocked and this can impede performance.
Perform Careful Flushing
In the worst-case scenario a radiator may need to be replaced, but this is usually not the case. You will need to have the system flushed out however and this will need to be done several times if it is to be effective. A mechanic will typically use a compressed air gun to reach deep within the system, but this must be done carefully so it doesn't cause any damage.
When was the last time that you had your cooling system serviced? If it's been more than one season, you will need to do it quickly, before Jack Frost first arrives. For these and other car repairs, contact local auto services.