As the mornings have grown colder, I’ve noticed my heater isn’t putting out hot air. With winter approaching, I’d like to get this fixed soon.

Cold-Mornings-Car

The method used to warm a car’s cabin isn’t very different from the one used to keep the engine cool. In fact, it’s all hooked together and runs on the same circuit. Coolant circulates through the engine and absorbs engine heat, which is exchanged with the outside air by way of the radiator. A much smaller radiator called the heater core uses the same hot coolant to keep the cabin toasty. In general, there are two things that can go wrong with this setup.

Here are the two main culprits of reduced heat output in your vehicle’s cabin:

1) The first item to check is the engine temperature. To help cold engines warm up fast, the flow of coolant is restricted by way of the thermostat—a thermal valve that opens when it’s hot and closes when it’s cold. When the thermostat wears out, it remains stuck open or shut, which leads to either overheating or cool operation.

A worn-out thermostat might be preventing the coolant from getting warm enough to heat the cabin. Replacing the thermostat can be a 20-minute job or a real hassle. Check your service manual to see how involved the replacement is or stop by any of our 5 convenient locations in the Reno-Sparks area.

2) If the thermostat is fine, the flow of coolant in the heater core may be restricted by built-up goop. Sediment and grime can accumulate between coolant changes and collect in the heater core.

A flush can be done by disconnecting the heater hoses at the water pump (when the car is cold) and using compressed air to push the coolant and gunk backward, out the inlet hose. Be sure to capture all the old coolant and dispose of it properly. Follow that with a few rounds of filling the core with tap water and flushing it out in the same way, then refill the core with mixed coolant and reattach the hoses. None of these fixes are hard, but the heater-core flush is messy, so you might want to take your car to a shop for service.

Properly maintaining the cooling system is key for the heating system of your vehicle to work efficiently. Having the coolant in your engine flushed regularly and re-filled with the clean coolant/water mix is very important along with repairing any leaks that occur in your cooling system. We recommend having your cooling/heating system inspected on a regular basis with each oil change, so that you are aware of any issues and can have them repaired while they are still small.

To schedule an appointment for a FREE COOLING SYSTEM INSPECTION good until 9/31/14, or regular service, please visit any of our 5 full service repair stores:

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Sierra Car Care - Lakeside ServiceSierra Car Care – Lakeside Service
Manager: Rob Wolter
190 W. Plumb Lane
Reno, NV 89509

Phone (775) 825-1185
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Sierra Car Care – Northwest Service
Manager: Richard Blasey
1300 W. 7th Street
Reno, NV 89503

Phone (775) 747-1345
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Sierra Car Care – Village Service Sierra Car Care - Village Service
Manager: Larry Silva
1101 California Avenue
Reno, NV 89509

Phone (775) 348-7508
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Sierra Car Care – Sparks Service
Manager: Jacob Koerber
800 Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89431

Phone (775) 358-6186
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Mill Street Tire Mill Street Tire
Manager: Larry Yarborough & Lisa Smith
3180 Mill Street, Suite A
Reno, NV 89502

Phone (775)329-6434
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