Your car's heating and cooling system is a complex combination of many different components, which enable you to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Without the heating and air conditioning systems in today's modern vehicles, we would all be miserable driving to our destinations. Hot engine coolant is circulated through a small radiator-like device, often referred to as a heater core, which acts as a heat exchanger. The heater core is normally mounted under the dash or under the heating and cooling housing of your vehicle. This heating 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 associated with it.
Usually a fan is positioned in front of the heater core to blow cold inside or outside air over the fins (coils). As this air flows through the heater core it heats up and becomes the hot air, which then blows out your heater vents into the interior of your car to heat you and your passengers up on cold winter days and nights.
The temperature of the heat coming from the heater core is regulated by the heater controls on the dash of the car. As you increase the cabin temperature requirement, a valve, opens up to allow additional, hot engine coolant to circulate through the heater core. This increases the heat the fan circulates inside the cabin.
Although gasoline engines have been improved upon throughout the years, they are still not very efficient at turning chemical energy into mechanical power. Most of the energy in the gasoline is converted into heat, and it is the job of the cooling system to take care of that heat. In fact, the cooling system on a car driving down the freeway dissipates enough heat to provide heat for two average-sized homes! The primary job of the cooling system is to keep the engine from overheating by transferring this heat to the air, but the cooling system also has several other important jobs.
The engine in your car runs best at a fairly high temperature. When a car's engine is cold its components wear out faster which in turn makes an engine less efficient and emits more pollution. Another important job of the cooling system is to allow the engine to heat up as quickly as possible, and then to keep the engine at a constant temperature.
A thermostat is needed to regulate the temperature of your vehicle's engine. This is accomplished by a valve being inserted into the coolant piping that gradually opens as the engine coolant temperature warms up, until finally at maximum engine operating temperature the valve is fully open and allowing full circulation of the coolant throughout the engine, and into the heater core for keeping the vehicle cabin warm.
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