Your car's heating system is what keeps you warm inside your vehicle when the winter wind is whipping around outside. To keep your vehicle's heating system in proper working condition, so you are able to use it during the cold weather comes to town, you must understand how to properly maintain it. Here is your chance to get familiar with your auto's heating system.
Knowing the basics of how a gas powered internal combustion engine will better help you understand the workings of your auto's heating system. This is a very brief non-detailed description. Pistons in the engine rotate to allow in a gasoline and air mixture that is compressed which causes an explosion in the cylinder. There are four stages to this process which ends with the crankshaft moving and thus powering your automobile.
The explosions, along with friction, created by the engine cause heat to build up and it will need someplace to go. Much of this heat is directed out through the exhaust system. The remaining built-up heat remains in the engine compartment. It is usually the function of the cooling system to remove this excess heat.
During cold winter months instead of removing the heat the occupants of an automobile prefer to direct that heat into the driver's compartment and the rest of the interior of the vehicle. These are main components to the heating system that we will discuss: Coolant, Heater Core, Blower Motor, Heater Control Valve and Thermostat.
The cooling system of your vehicle needs coolant and so does the heating system. The engine cannot get too hot or it will overheat and damage engine parts. Coolant is used to circulate through the passageways of the engine and cool it down. It then can pass on through to the heater core.
The heater core is a small radiator like device that acts as a heat exchanger. It is usually mounted under the dash board or HVAC housing of your vehicle. This component has an inlet and outlet to allow coolant to flow through the core. The heater core has numerous coils and a blower or fan.
The blower motor turns to allow a fan to blow over the heater core and direct the heat into the inside of your automobile. A driver is able to turn this fan on by using the blower switch in the climate control panel usually located in the front console of the car. When the driver turns this switch to the heating setting it is basically calling for the blower motor to move outside air through the heater core and into the vehicle's interior.
The heater control valve is the device that controls the flow of hot engine coolant through the heater core. It is usually located in one of the heater hoses to regulate the flow. This valve thus helps to control the heater output as called for by the driver's control switch.
The heating system's thermostat is basically a temperature sensitive valve that opens and closes dependent on the coolant temperature or computer signals if controlled by a module. The thermostat is typically located between the engine and radiator.This component controls your engine's warm-up interval.
During the warm-up period the thermostat valve remains closed. This prevents coolant from flowing from the engine to the radiator. This allows the coolant to warm quickly. As it warms up the valve begins to open. Once the proper running temperature is reached the valve will open so that the coolant and freely flow to the radiator.
If the outside air is especially crisp and cold and the engine has not run for long the heater will blow cold for the driver of the vehicle. The engine needs to heat up so that it can produce heat and allow the thermostat to open and allow coolant to circulate. As the car warms up the heater core will retain heat and continue to let it build up so that when the fan blows over it the air will be warm.
Understanding your auto's heating system is more than just knowing which knob to turn to allow the heat to flow into the interior of your vehicle. For you to become warm inside of the car the engine must first warm up. Once it has built up heat the various heating components can get to work and allow the heat to be given unto the occupants. Here is to keeping your car's inside warm when it is frightening cold on the outside.