A heater core is a radiator-like component used to heat a car’s interior. A winding tube in the core acts as a heat exchange between the hot coolant from the car’s engine and the cabin air. The passenger compartment is heated by the fins attached to the core tubes, which increase the surface area for heat transmission to air that is blown past them by a fan.

For more convenience in automobiles, the heater core is employed to achieve the same principle as a modern home air conditioning system. yes, is obvious and quite popular about the coolness of vehicles. Heater cores are used to get warmness in the interior just as to meet the user’s satisfaction.

The device is like a smaller radiator that works along with a vehicle cooling system. However, heater cores do the opposite job from the radiator removing heat from the hot coolant and dispersing it into the atmosphere. The heater core also takes heat away from the hot coolant but pumps the heat with a blower motor into the car cabin through the air vents.

heater core

Today we’ll be looking at the definition, function, components, diagram, working, and symptoms of the bad or failing automobile heater core.


Heater core definition

A heater core is a device that is used to transfer heat from the engine’s hot coolant to produce warm air to the car interior. This radiator-like component is a system that heats the cabin of the vehicle. The hot coolant absorbs heat from the engine to avoid overheating, it’s then passed through a winding tube of the core.

There is a heat exchange between the coolant and cabin air and a fan is attached to the core tubes which helps to increase the surface area for heat transfer to air that passes through them. It thereby warms up the passenger compartment. Now you can see the primary function of a heater core is to keep the interior of a vehicle warm.

The components of the heater core include a blower motor through which warm air is blown to the cabin. It also contains tubing or heater hoses that carry the hot coolant. The system also features a blower that pushes the heat through and a control valve that controls the flow of heat. We can also find the HVAC blend door in the heater core and other cooling system components like the radiator, thermostat, etc.

Heater core diagram:

heater core diagram

Working principle

The working of a heater core is less complex and can be easily understood as it works with a few functional components. it works on an internal combustion engine where a water and antifreeze mixture is used in cooling the engine parts. Thus, during the cooling process, the hot coolant goes the extra mile to produce warmness to the vehicle interior. this is how it works.

As soon as the engine is warmed up, the temperature of the coolant is controlled by the thermostat. Some of the hot coolants are diverted through the heater core, and the temperature of the air entering the car’s interior is controlled by the valve, limiting the amount of coolant that goes through the heater core. The flow of the warm air can also be controlled or blocked with a door, which directs all the incoming air around the heater core. This causes the system not to get heated or re-heated when the air conditioning compressor is working.

In some engine designs, the system allows drivers to control the valve or door directly, usually using a lever or a rotary knob. Complicated systems use a combination of thermistors and electromagnetically actuators to control the valve or doors. This helps to deliver air at a precise temperature selected by the user.

Watch the video to learn more about the working of the heater core:

Symptoms of the bad and failing heater core

Below are the signs or symptoms of the bad and failing heater core in internal combustion engines:

Inoperative heater:

One common sign of a bad heater core is when the heater completely stops working, which is caused by a clog in the cooling system. if this happens, there probably won’t be leaks in the system, but the heater core will find it difficult to work.

Slim film on the windows:

A faulty heater core will build up a slimy film on the vehicle windows. This film is just like those fog patches that appear when the temperature outside is much colder than the one inside. This often occurs when the heater core fails, but it is made up of slimy coolant in this situation. The fogging is also a sign that the heater core is leaking, which is a cause for engine overheating.

A sweet smell in the car interior:

Another symptom of the bad heater core is a sudden sweet smell in the car.  In this situation, the fogging appears with a sweet smell that suddenly fills the cabin. The smell might be sweet and fruity but it is completely bad for humans to inhale. If you have a bad heater core, you should get it fixed as soon as possible because driving a car with a bad heater core can be risky. It can lead to overheating and cause huge damage to the engine.

Heater core bypassing

Most vehicle users always want to bypass the heater core when it fails because replacing can cost much and the system itself is costly. It’s highly not recommended to bypass a heater, though if bypassing is perfectly done, no leakage will occur and it won’t harm your engine.

Some experts argued that bypassing the heater core can damage during an overheating situation. This is because lowering engine temperature can be done by turning on the car’s heater, which pushes heat through the cabin. heater core bypassing is highly discouraged as a problem may come up in the future.

Let’s be honest, for the engine to overheat to the point where you discharge heat through the cabin, it is obvious you’ve got bigger problems in the cooling system. You shouldn’t be driving such a car. Also, this doesn’t make bypassing the best option as the car defroster won’t work well. So, bypassing the heater core is a no-no.

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Final words

In conclusion, the heater core is a great device on the automobile engine as it supplies air to the engine interior. some region makes great use of the device since cold there is of high degree. Well, in this article we’ve covered the essentials you need to know about the component such as definition, function, components, and work of the heater core. We also saw the bad symptoms and how bypassing is highly discouraged. I hope you enjoyed the reading if so kindly comment on the aspect you like about the component and share it with some other students. Thanks!

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