A heater core is one of the core components of the air conditioning system. It has a similar design and function with the radiators though smaller. Heat core uses water cooling. The main function of the heater core is raising the temperature of the passenger compartment. It disperses heat hence allowing your defroster and heater to function.
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While the design of heater core may vary, they commonly consist of the following major components.
- Core tubes
- Header tank
A series of tubes that have fins connects two heater tanks. The inlet and outlet are positioned in one tank, but they could be installed each in one of the tanks. While the tanks can either be plastic or metallic, the fins are metallic commonly copper or brass. Modern heater core tanks are made of plastics while the tubes and fins are made of fins.
A heater core is positioned inside the heater boxes together with other HVAC components. The sealed boxes may contain flaps and door that are operated electrically, mechanically or by vacuum.
Heater core operates more or less like a radiator. The hot coolant flows to the inlet, through tubes and out through the outlets. The electric blow pushes air through the heater core where heat is transferred to the air through a convention. The hot air is released to the vehicle cabin. Some designs use HVAC controls to operate a valve located between the engine and heater core. The valves are usually operated mechanically or by vacuum.
The heater core can be used as secondary radiators given that they perform the same basic functions as radiators. They also fail for the same reasons the radiators fail. Leakage in the heater core can be caused by electrolysis, excessive pressure in the cooling system and corrosion. However, they are more difficult to replace because they are located in the passenger compartment. This means that split heater boxes have to be removed. Worse still the whole dash might have to be removed. Since the exercise is time-consuming and labor-intensive heater core replacement can prove to be an expensive repair.
The heater core is made of small piping numerous kinks and bends. Therefore it is prone to clogging. You should, therefore, take preventative measures including flushing the heater core and the whole cooling system. Leak in the heater core is another problem. If you see coolant near the heater core, then it could be a sign that the heater core is leaking. A sweet coolant smell may be a sign of leakage. Lastly, if the cabin is cold especially when the engine is hot, then you should be worried about the health of your vehicle heating core.
Heating core is an essential part of the vehicle cooling system. If you detect any problem, do not hesitate to contact your mechanic.
Read more about your car’s radiator: