CAR CARE NEWS :: DECEMBER 2017

Stay Comfy All Winter With Climate Control System Inspection

Modern heating systems make drivers more comfortable than ever, long as everything keeps working.

But keeping such a complex system functioning takes a trained specialist who is trained to deal with modern day climate control systems.

“Everything starts with visual inspection,” said Steve Schaeber, Manager of Service Training for the Mobile Air Conditioning Society. “Service techs look for leaks and check the condition of the belts and hoses.”

With separate thermostats for the driver and passenger sides, extra vents for passengers in the backseat and heated seats, modern technology makes it easy to stay comfy and cozy all winter long.

Like any other system, climate control is subject to wear and tear.

“Naturally over time, belts and hoses are rubber and over time they crack. They get dry-rotted like tires do,” Schaeber said.

The heating and cooling systems routinely feed off one another, so problems with one may affect the other.

Low coolant levels reduce the heater’s ability to warm the interior. Leaks in the heater core, hoses, radiator or cooling system will lead to a lack of coolant and create problems in the system.

How it works: The climate control system transfers the engine’s heat to the vehicle’s interior. This engine heat is absorbed by coolant—a blend of water and antifreeze—which is carried by heater hoses to the radiator.

Then the water pump forces coolant through the engine and heating system. From there it travels to a heater core located in the dashboard and a fan swirls warm air into the cabin.

Check with your owner’s manual for suggested service intervals to care for the heating system’s components.

Schaeber offered the following insights on climate control systems:

  • Know the warning signs. Stains on the passenger side of the dashboard could be the sign of a coolant leak. (Antifreeze runs through the heater core, which usually sits behind or under your dashboard, often on the passenger side.)
  • Check your cabin air filter. The filter captures hair, dust and particulates in the air before it reaches your nostrils. Check your owner’s manual or ask your service advisor how often your cabin air filter should be changed.
  • Hidden problems could be the culprit. A vacuum leak, core failure or stuck thermostat can also cause problems with the heater.
  • Check for the condition for the coolant itself. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is ideal.
  • Simple solutions often exist. Look for clogs in vents that may impede air flow.