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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.


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:


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

Phone (775) 825-1185

Sierra Car Care – Northwest Service
Manager: Richard Blasey
1300 W. 7th Street
Reno, NV 89503

Phone (775) 747-1345

Sierra Car Care – Village Service Sierra Car Care - Village Service
Manager: Larry Silva
1101 California Avenue
Reno, NV 89509

Phone (775) 348-7508

Sierra Car Care – Sparks Service
Manager: Jacob Koerber
800 Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89431

Phone (775) 358-6186

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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We’re often asked, “What’s a coolant or antifreeze flush, and do I really need one?”

In short, yes. Here’s why… The name coolant/antifreeze is misleading because it does more than heat or cool your engine, and protect your engine from Checking the radiator antifreezefreezing in the winter.

Coolant/Antifreeze keeps your car running and prevents expensive bills like replacing radiators, head gaskets, and heater cores. These repairs could run you $400 -$1500. But a simple coolant flush done every 2-5 years can help you avoid those high bills.

How Coolant/Antifreeze Works
Today’s engines run hotter than older cars. And to meet government fuel mileage regulations, manufacturers make most engine parts out of aluminum. This includes your cooling system, radiator, and heater core.

The problem is, aluminum corrodes easily – especially when heated. So our hotter-running cars mixed with aluminum parts combine to break down your engine antifreeze faster.

Engine coolant/antifreeze contains inhibitors that protect metals from eroding and corroding. It does this by raising the boiling point and lowering the freezing point of your engine’s cooling system.

So just like the carton of milk in your refrigerator, engine coolant/antifreeze breaks down over time and needs changing.

When Should I Change My Coolant/Antifreeze?
If you want to avoid hefty car repair bills, change your coolant/antifreeze seasonally. It’s best to have a professional check your antifreeze and recommend the next change.

Yours truly,
Laurie Yarborough
President, Mill Street Tire Center

Gas for goodnessWe Care Volunteers

Every Wednesday in October, we’ll make a donation for every gallon of gas sold from our Sierra Car Care/MST Tire Centers. And we’ll donate $1.00 per tire sold each Saturday at MST Tire Center on Mill Street. All of October’s donations will support We Care Volunteers.

At We Care Volunteers our goal is to feed those who cannot feed themselves, and to educate – through OUR volunteer service, those individuals who lack the life skills needed to make wise food choices and to help provide them with the skills to become better stewards of their health.

  • We envision communities comprised of
    individuals who have been trained to prepare
    meals that are nutritious– that enrich their
    bodies and nourish their souls.
  • We envision communities that are resourceful,
    self-sustaining, and that work towardsWe Care Volunteers Reno, NV
    everyone’s highest good.
  • We envision communities built around
    cooperation rather than competition.

So when you need gas or new tires, you can also support We Care Volunteers by visiting any of our 5 locations on Wednesdays for gas and Saturdays for tires.

For more information, visit:
Thanks for supporting our community!

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