How Does Your Car Heater Work?

With temperatures dropping, you’ve probably found yourself turning up the heat in your vehicle without second thought. But have you ever wondered how your car’s heater actually works? And did you know that it serves a valuable purpose in keeping your engine cool?

How Your Heater Works

Your car’s heater is directly linked to the engine’s cooling system. This means that if your heater isn’t working properly, it’s crucial to have it looked at right away. Otherwise, you run the risk of your vehicle over-heating.

So how does your car heater work?

Basically, coolant circulates through your car, drawing heat from the engine – which naturally heats up while operating. From there, it is blown by a fan through the heater core, which acts as a small radiator within your dash. A vehicle’s passengers can open the vents in the dash and control the volume of warm air blown into the cabin. If you choose not to run the heater, the heat is instead absorbed into the heater core and the coolant is circulated back through your vehicle.

Keeping the Heater in Top Form

Your car’s heater is important. Not only does it keep you warm, it also protects your engine from over-heating and powers the defroster for your icy windshield. So what if it stops working?

In general, a heater will stop working for a handful of reasons, including:

  • Low antifreeze levels in the radiator, generally due to a leak.
  • A bad thermostat preventing the engine from warming up.
  • A broken or malfunctioning blower fan.
  • Contaminated coolant or a blocked/impacted heating core.

These issues are distinct and require different repair to return the heater to proper function. In general, it’s best to bring your car to a licensed repair shop when you have heater problems, as repairs will generally require some in-depth examination and repair.