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How to Ensure That Your Vehicle's Heating System Is Ready for Frigid Times Ahead

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Remember that cold snap that seemed to last forever last winter? Forecasters predict that there will be more of the same as this season rolls around again, and you need to be ready if you're going to be comfortable during your morning commute to work. You may remember that your vehicle's heater was a little unpredictable last time, so you need to take action now before you get caught out again. What do you need to look at first?

How the System Works

Firstly, you may not know that a typical car heater relies on two radiators and a complicated piping system in order to heat the cabin correctly. It takes advantage of the energy generated by the engine and the water that is used to cool the motor. The heated water passes through the main radiator at the front of the vehicle but is also diverted (in part) to the secondary radiator that is located between the passenger cabin and the engine bay. This is where a stand-alone fan blows the heat from the warm air through the ducts, to satisfy the inhabitants of the vehicle.

Open or Closed?

The first place to look is at the point where the hot air is diverted towards the secondary radiator. This is controlled by a very simple device called a thermostat, which sits at this intersection in the top of a pipe, opening or closing according to the demands of the ECU. Sometimes, this thermostat can become stuck in the closed or partially open position, and when it does so, it will affect how much heat is available for the cabin. If it is faulty, it will need to be replaced.

Is It in the Pipes?

The next place to look is within the pipework itself, as sediment can build up over time from a variety of different sources. Firstly, the antifreeze/coolant that is added to the system can degrade over time, and this can be combined with very tiny flecks of rubber that may wear away from inside some of the pipes. All of this will build up and can block some of the tiny pipes within the radiators, leading to poor performance.

Flushing out

To fix this situation, you will need to flush out the radiator not once, but several times to make a difference. Often, compressed air has to be used to make sure that the job is done properly, and you need to approach this very carefully to ensure that no damage is incurred.

How to Get Ready

More often than not, it's best to get a trained mechanic to make sure that all your pipes are clear, and the thermostat can also be swapped out at the same time. Get in touch with your vehicle repair shop now, so that you are not caught out when the first signs of winter arrive.