Heater core issues are a particularly serious problem, not just for your car, but for your health and well-being as well. Your cars heater works by directing hot coolant from the engine into the cabin space through some pipes and into the heater core. A fan then blows over the core to circulate the warm air throughout your car’s cabin.
While this is an efficient and highly effective setup, what this means is that the heater core has the potential to leak coolant inside your cabin. In most cases, the coolants used are ethylene glycol which can be hazardous to your health. This makes it critical to be able to tell when your heater core might need replacement. If you see coolant inside the vehicle, be sure to immediately take your car to a car air conditioning service provider for inspection.
1.) Your heater core isn’t producing any heat
This can be due to any number of reasons, but it is most often due to a lack of coolant flow to the heater core or an air lock. This can also be dangerous for your car, as it may be a sign of coolant system failure, which can lead to overheating.
2.) You see coolant leaking on to the floor
If you see a coolant leak in the cabin, it may be a sign that the heater core needs to be replaced. Be sure to take your car to a qualified air conditioning specialist to help diagnose the problem.
3.) You’re smelling or tasting a fruity, sweet scent in the cabin
Technically, ethylene glycol is an odourless compound. However, in large enough quantities, you might start being able to taste the gas, which can be construed as a smell. In any case, this means there is a very serious accumulation of coolant gas in the cabin. Roll down your windows when driving to the aircon service centre to avoid inhaling more ethylene glycol than is necessary.
4.) Your windows have a sticky mist on them
This can sometimes mean that the ethylene glycol has condensed onto your window. This film might be very difficult to remove, and contact with skin is not recommended. Your aircon service centre may be able to clean it or offer you advice on how to remove it.
5.) Your engine is constantly running hot
This can be a sign of a failure somewhere in your coolant system which in turn, may have something to do with your heater core. While a heater core failure is not typically common, it does happen so be sure to have a qualified mechanic take a look.
6.) You see a coloured leak in your garage or parking space floor
Ethylene glycol is often tinted green orange or red or blue. While this may be difficult to see, they do look distinct from something like an oil leak, for example. If you see puddles of these, there might very well be a leak in the coolant system. If there are traces of rust in the fluid, it may also mean that the coolant system may need to be repaired, possibly including the heater core.
7.) Not all the hoses going into the core are warm
If not all the hoses going into in the heater core are warm, it may be a sign of some kind of blockage somewhere in the coolant system. If there is a blockage inside the heater core itself, it may need to be replaced if it could no longer be flushed