Kelly's Garage - Active Green and Ross -December 2012

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Happy early New Year everyone!  I hope everyone had a safe holiday season and perhaps some of you are still having a holiday.  During this time of year I do supply teaching, so I don’t go back until January 7th.  I’m kind of excited about it!  Hopefully everyone has their winter tires on, now that we have some snow on the ground and it’s colder than + 7 degrees Celsius.  I heard on the news recently that this is the highest snowfall we’ve had since March 2011.  When you think about it, we’ve had a very easy winter so far.  If you are planning to be going out on New Years be sure to have a designated driver or an alternate plan.  If you are cabbing it, book it in advance so that you aren’t waiting for hours.  My plan is to stay at my friends who are hosting New Years so that I don’t have to worry.  The next time you receive a newsletter from me it will be 2013!


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An air cooled engine such as an old Volkswagen Beetle doesn’t have a heater core.  Heater cores are only found in water cooled engines, which is what most of us drive.

This month's topic: Heater Cores

I know heater cores aren’t the most exciting thing to talk about when it comes to vehicles, but they perform a very important role in our vehicle.  Any vehicle that is water cooled which is 99.9% of vehicles has a heater core in it.  It looks like a small radiator and it is located under the dashboard of your vehicle.   If your vehicle has dual climate control then your heater core would be split in two to provide different temperatures to each side of the vehicle. The job of the heater core is to provide heat to the interior cabin of your vehicle. 

So how does it do this?  Your engine coolant is heated up by the engine and then the coolant passes through the heater core where it gives off the heat before it goes back into the engine.  This is why you have no heat coming into your interior when you first start it up because there isn’t any heat in the engine yet to warm up the coolant.  When the heater core is working properly and the coolant is being maintained everyone is happy and we get lots of heat when we want it.  When you start to notice things aren’t quite right with your heater then you will need to take your vehicle into your local Active Green and Ross and get things checked out.  Try to pay attention to how long it takes to get heat into your vehicle?  Is it longer than usual or is it erratic?

When a heater core fails there are a variety of reasons why.  The core is made up of small piping that bends back and forth. In fact, it looks like a miniature car radiator.  (I’ve attached photos for you to compare).  Sometimes, if your coolant hasn’t been flushed or changed in a while it will clog up the heater core.  Another possibility could be a leak at one of the connectors.  If you have a leak you may notice a sweet smell (this is the coolant) or you may notice a grease like film on your windshield above the vent.  Other symptoms of failure include erratic heater function where it works and then it doesn’t work; it may be slower to warm up inside your vehicle or you may hear a noise such as clanking or grinding right after you activate your heater.

In any case if your heater core does fail it will likely be an expensive repair.  In order to get at the heater core, part of your dash needs to be disassembled and this can be fairly labour intensive.  In order to avoid a heater core failure due to clogging you want to make sure you get your coolant checked and flushed when it is suggested.  At Active Green and Ross they will always check the condition of your coolant when you have an oil change.  To find a store near you check out www.activegreenross.com.

Take care of your car and it will take care of you!

This months photo: Heater Cores

Heater Core

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Vehicle Radiator

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Example of where a heater core is located

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