When your car’s heater malfunctions in the winter, it’s not just uncomfortable—it’s downright dangerous. Besides warming you up on your morning commute, your heater serves as a tool to keep your windshield and windows clear of frost, snow, and condensation. Unfortunately, most car heater problems require professional intervention; there aren’t many issues you can fix at home unless you’re handy with cars. Fortunately, most of the fixes are relatively cheap and fast.
Your car’s heater works by taking hot air from the engine and transferring it to your car’s interior using fluids and fans. The two most common problems you’ll experience with your heater—cold air coming from the vents or no air coming from the vents—can both be traced back to that simple process.
If your car is blowing cold air, the heat from your engine is not being transferred to your heater. One of the most likely culprits is a low coolant level, often caused by a leak. Check beneath your car after its been parked for a while. If you see liquid with a greenish color, it’s likely coolant and low levels of coolant mean no heat, and a whole lot of other potential problems. Another cause of cold air from the vents is a busted or stuck thermostat. If a thermostat malfunctions, your car isn’t told to circulate fluid around your engine to pick up the heat. You’ll get air in your cabin, but it won’t be hot. If you do attempt any repairs at home, be extremely careful when working with coolant.
Let’s say you turn on your heat and no air comes out of your vents. This likely means a faulty blower, or a glitch in the electrical system leading to your blower. That could mean a fuse needs to be replaced or reset, or it could mean you need a new blower motor. Either way, only attempt to address this issue if you’re comfortable working with electricity. Another thing that can cause your heater to not blow any air at all is a malfunction or break in the controls. This seems like a “no brainer” but a common reason your car’s heat won’t work is a simple broken switch.
As with most issues with your car, a little preventative care goes a long way. Remember to stick to your car’s coolant maintenance schedule, and if you notice coolant leaks or less heat coming out of your vents, don’t wait to bring your car in. Allowing us to perform preventative maintenance now can save you time and trouble down the road.