Troubleshooting Your Car Heater for Cold Weather

Car Heater

The colder weather has hit us, so it’s time —if you haven’t already — to make sure your car’s heater is pumping out all the hot air you need. Here are a few troubleshooting tips for those struggling to get their vehicle to turn up the heat.

The method used to warm the interior of cars isn’t much different from the one used to keep its engine cool. In fact, it is all connected and runs on the same circuit. Coolant circulates through the engine and absorbs engine heat, exchanging with outside air by way of the radiator. A much smaller radiator called the heater core utilizes the same hot coolant to keep the interior toasty. Generally, there are three things that can go wrong with this setup.

Coolant Level

The coolant — also called antifreeze — circulates through your engine to keep it cool by absorbing heat and moving it to the radiator, where it dissipates into the air. Typically, if your vehicle overheats when you are driving it, there might be an issue with the coolant level. You will want to see if the coolant level in the radiator is full. If not, this means you have a leak or a weak radiator cap. In addition, an air pocket can interfere with the flow of coolant through your heater core.

If this is the case, you will want to check with your car’s manufacturer instructions to see how to refill your cooling system. Some vehicles require special procedures to eliminate the possibility of air pockets.


The thermostat opens and closes circuits in the cooling system as your engine warms up. If it is stuck in the closed position it won’t let coolant circulate, which means your heating system won’t function properly. There might also be an issue with your thermostat if your vehicle overheats when you drive it. If this is the case, you will want to consult your manual about how to replace the thermostat.

Heater Core

The heater core is located under the dashboard on the passenger side. It lets coolant pass through it and provides warm air through the vents. A plugged heater core may back up the flow of coolant, which can cause issues with the heating system. If steam is coming from your vents or coolant is leaking inside the car under the dashboard, there is probably something wrong with the heater core. Unfortunately, once your heater core becomes plugged, you have to replace it.


If you don’t have time to figure out your vehicle’s heating problems or don’t have experience with such repairs, contact Autoworks with the link below! Our mechanics see these problems frequently, especially during the winter time, and can fix your problem quickly. There is no reason to have a car heater that is not working, especially in the winter. Contact us with the link below to schedule a time with one of our mechanics to get your car heater checked out today!

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