Driving in the cold winter temperatures isn’t always a walk in the park, and if your heater stops working, it can be dangerous. If this unfortunate circumstance occurs, don’t be caught off guard and panic. A few simple steps can help you be prepared and possibly help identify the cause.
Since you never know when this issue might occur, it’s best to be prepared. Make sure you leave the house with your cell phone charged and your local mechanic’s or service center’s number either programmed in your phone or on a business card so you can call immediately. In cold temperatures, a non-working heater can make it difficult to see since you won’t be able to defrost the glass, and the broken heater may signify a deeper problem, so you may need to stay put. Stock safety items such as blankets, water, and emergency flares in your vehicle.
Check the Coolant Level
While there are a decent range of issues that could cause your car’s heater to stop working, one of the first steps you can try to eliminate as the cause is the engine’s coolant level. A low coolant level is sometimes to blame for heat problems in a vehicle. Turn your vehicle off and wait for its systems to cool down before checking the coolant. While filling the coolant to the proper may solve the problem, it’s best to get your vehicles checked out for other possible issues, as low coolant can indicate problems such as a leak or blockage.
Check Your Thermostat
Another culprit to a non-working heating system can be the vehicle’s thermostat. To check the thermostat, leave the engine running and assess the water temperature indicator. After about ten minutes, check the dial to see if the water temperature is reading hot or cold. A hot engine and a cold water temperature dial can indicate that the thermostat is to blame, and you’ll need to get it repaired.
Blocked Heater Core
Depending on your vehicle, it may not be too difficult to identify if a blocked heater core is the issue. There are two hoses that allow the heater core to function properly – an inlet to it that comes from the radiator, and an outlet hose that extending from the heater core itself. If these are easily accessible you can feel their temperatures to help determine if there is a blockage. If the inlet hose feels hot or warm to the touch and you can identify that the outlet hose is cold, it is likely that this is the issue.
Contact a reliable service center, such as Leith Volkswagen of Cary’s trusted repair center, to have them flush the system and assess the vehicle for any other potential issues relating to the heating system malfunction.
In some cases, what you see and hear can give clues to the problem. A clicking sound, for example, may indicate a compressor issue. If you smell something out of the ordinary, it can mean there is a leak or malfunctioning hose, gasket, or other component. Stay calm and visit a service center to ensure your vehicle is safe and comfortable for the rest of your winter driving.