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What Are the Signs of a Leaking Car Heater Core?

You don’t need us here at Village Autoworks to tell you how cold it gets in Minnesota in the winter. One of the worst things that can happen is you jump into your car, turn on the heater, and continue to freeze. Hot engine coolant is diverted through the heater core to warm the air when you turn on the heater, and a leaking car heater core affects your engine’s ability to warm up your car’s interior.

1. Cold Air Blowing Through the Vents

As we said above, even though your engine is warming up, the air flowing through the vents will still be cold. This is because the hot engine coolant is leaking out of the heater core before the fan blows the cold air over it to warm it up. No matter how many times you adjust your heater, the air blowing into your car, truck, or utility vehicle will never get hot because there isn’t any hot coolant to change its temperature.

2. Fog on the Inside of the Windows

A leaking car heater core can also fog up the inside of your vehicle’s windows, even if you have the defroster on. This is because the cold air blowing into the cabin is moist, in some cases filled with the engine coolant, and the coolant sticks to your windows and fogs them up. The same thing can happen inside your home during a rain or snowstorm if you have a leaky window. Replacing the heater core will stop the windows from fogging up.

3. Fruit Smells Coming Through The Vents

If you do have engine coolant in the air that is blowing through the vents, it will smell like fruit. Engine coolant has a sweet smell to it, which is why, tragically, animals can be attracted to it. Some people describe the smell as maple syrup, while others say it reminds them of fruit. Regardless, if your cabin air filter is clean and everything is working as it should be, you should never have a sweet smell blowing through the vents.

4. Overheating Engine Even in Icy Weather

Because your engine is losing coolant through the leaking heater core, it will overheat even if it’s freezing outside. You may find that you are constantly having to add coolant to your engine even if you can’t visibly see a leak on your garage floor. Sometimes, the heater core’s leak isn’t as noticeable as you might think it would be. This is why most people don’t know they have a heater core leak until they experience the above signs.

5. Radiator Fluid Loss on the Floor

One place where the heater core will leak engine coolant is onto your floorboards. Whether you have carpet or rubber mats, check them for puddles if you suspect you have a leaking heater core. You may still have a car heater core leak even if there isn’t any coolant on your vehicle’s floor underneath the dashboard. It’s important to have the heater core inspected if you think there something wrong with it.

We can do that here at Village Autoworks in Woodbury and Roseville, MN. That’s right. We have two auto service and repair shops conveniently located to service your car.

Photo by Scott-Cartwright from Getty Images Signature via Canva Pro
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