What Is The Purpose of A Cars Heater Core?

So, what exactly does a vehicles heater core do and how do I know if mine is not functioning properly? Excellent questions! Continue reading to learn all about your vehicles heater core.

What Is a Heater Core?

A heater core is a part of your cars cooling system.  It is basically a tiny radiator that is used to disperse heat and allow your heater and defroster to function.  The primary purpose the heater core serves is heating the cabin of your vehicle.

How Does It Work?

At the same time your vehicles water pump is forcing coolant through the engine block, coolant is being forced through your vehicles heater core through small tubes called heater hoses.  As the hot coolant passes through the heater core, the fins work to transfer heat which will later be forced into the vehicles cabin.  The fins, which are attached to the tubes inside of the core work to increase surface area for maximum heat transfer.  As the heater core disperses heat from the cooling system, a fan is used to blow the heat into the cabin of your vehicle.

The heater core also partly responsible for the functionality of your cars air conditioning system, working together with the evaporator coil to remove moisture from the air due to condensation.  This results in increased air comfort inside the vehicle.

Where Is the Heater Core Located?

In most automobiles, the heater core is located behind the dashboard. This makes it exceptionally difficult to reach if something goes wrong. It’s usually on the passenger side of the dash behind several other components, which is why it’s so hard to reach. In some vehicles, you can reach the heater core by going under the hood, but most of the time you’ll have to take the dashboard apart.

What Are Common Problems With The Heater Core?

Since the heater core is made up of small piping that has numerous bends and kinks, clogging can be a common issue.  Without proper preventative maintenance, such as flushing the heater core and entire cooling system, clogging is extremely likely to happen as the coolant becomes contaminated over time.

Another potential problem is a leak from somewhere in the system.  This could include the lines, hoses, or even the heater core itself.  If you smell coolant or notice wet upholstery or carpeting near the location of the heater core, this may be a sign of a leaking system.

What To Do If My Heater Core Is Not Working?

If you are unsure of whether or not your vehicle may be experience a problem with the heater core, make sure to check out 5 Signs That Your Heater Core May Be Failing. Unless you have an extensive background in the automotive field, we strongly recommend having your vehicle diagnosed by a certified automotive mechanic.  Heater core repair can be very difficult and without the knowledge and proper tools, you may end up causing further damage to your vehicle.