Get Your Car’s Heating System Ready

While you may be ready for chilly winter temperatures just by throwing on a few extra layers, your car needs more of a head start on the season. Run through this maintenance checklist this fall to make sure your car’s heating system is ready to take on chilly winter temperatures.

Check the Coolant

Start your heating system maintenance by checking the colour and level of coolant in your vehicle. Without a sufficient amount of clean coolant, your heater won’t be able to produce warm air. This is the most common source of poor heater output: it restricts coolant flow, resulting in little or no heat. To avoid injury, only check on your car’s coolant when the engine is cool.

Lift the hood and locate the coolant reservoir. Take off the cap and check that the coolant is the right colour. Coolant is typically bright blue, green, red, or yellow. If the colour looks good, top it up, if needed.

If the coolant looks brown and opaque, it’ll need changing. Flush out the reservoir and then refill it with a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water. Your owner’s manual will tell you what kind of coolant to use in your vehicle and how often to replace it.

Assess the Thermostat Valve

Turn on your car and keep an eye on the thermostat as it warms up. If it takes longer than normal to reach the halfway point, the thermostat valve might be stuck. If you don’t get it moving properly, your car won’t be able to produce much heat.

Test the Fan

Check underneath the glove compartment for the cooling fan, also known as the blower motor. This is what circulates the warm air around your car’s cabin.

Before winter arrives, drive around with the air on at different intensities (from low to high). Pay attention to any abnormal sounds like screeching, clunking, or metal-on-metal clashing.

If little to no air comes out of the fan, it may be faulty, or the cabin air filter may be clogged. If replacing the filter doesn’t solve the problem, use your owner’s manual to figure out where your car’s fuse box is. Try replacing the fan fuse. If the air flow is still weak, the entire fan may need to be replaced.

Look for Clogs and Leaks

Look underneath the dashboard for the heater core. If the heater core is clogged, less heat will enter the cabin area.

If your car’s floor mats are damp or smell of coolant and/or a sweet smell is coming from the vents, your heater core may be leaking. It’s extremely dangerous to breathe in coolant vapours. If you notice a weird smell or vapour coming out of the vents, have your heating system checked by a professional at a NAPA AUTOPRO Service Centre immediately.

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