Is your car’s heating system ready to deal with chilly winter temperatures? It’s easy to forget about your heater during the summer months, but you shouldn’t assume it’ll be ready to leap into action once fall gives way to colder weather.

It’s relatively easy to check whether your heating system will require any repairs or maintenance prior to the change in seasons. Here are three steps to follow when prepping your car’s heating system for winter.

1. Get your cooling system checked

Over time, the additives in your vehicle’s antifreeze will wear out, making it less effective at regulating the temperature inside your engine and resisting freezing-cold temperatures. Why does that matter for your car’s heating system? The heater in your vehicle keeps the cabin toasty by using heat transferred from coolant (a mixture of antifreeze and water) as it moves through the radiator. If the cooling system isn’t up to the task, your vents won’t blow warm air.

Other issues that can affect your car’s heater include a stuck thermostat and debris in the cooling system clogging the heater core. Hoses that are old and dried out can also start to leak in colder weather as they shrink. Before winter hits, check that your vehicle’s cooling system is in good shape by getting the antifreeze tested and doing a pressure test to detect any leaks and ensure everything is flowing smoothly.

2. Listen for blower noise

A car’s heating system relies on a blower to send warm air into the passenger compartment. Over time, the electric blower motor can wear out, resulting in weak air flow—or sometimes none at all. When fall arrives, drive around with your blower motor running at different speeds, from low to high, and listen for any unusual noises. Screeching, clunking, or metal-on-metal sounds are all indications that the motor may need to be replaced. Your technician will also check that the cabin air filter is not clogged or full of debris.

3. Make sure your air conditioner is working

Why would you need air conditioning in the winter? It might surprise you to know that a car’s heating system uses the air conditioner to help dry out moist air, which makes defrosting your windshield and side windows much quicker. Although it’s not absolutely necessary to keep you warm in cold weather, a functioning air‑conditioning unit will make dealing with winter that much easier.

It’s always a good idea to take care of winter car maintenance early. Running through these basic checks before the snow (and mercury) begins to fall will help you drive through the winter months with peace of mind—and a warm cabin.

You can trust any of our 650 NAPA AUTOPRO Service Centres for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on your car heating system, speak to an expert at your local NAPA AUTOPRO Service Centre.