Diagnosing Car Heater Problems
by Bob DeP.
5 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter Driving
A Winter Emergency Kit
I own a 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier, V6, 3.1 litre station wagon. My problem is the heater. When you turn the heater on you can hear the blower fan blowing (so we know that's working), and you can hear all the vacuums when you move the heater controls from "defrost" to "vent" to "blend" etc. But there's very little air coming out of any of the vents. When the heater is cranked up to high, you can barely feel the heat on your face! Please help me!
I have been getting many questions and comments about cold driving this year. I suppose that it's the season. Here are a few things to look for, but pay close attention to the symptoms, because they all mean different problems.
1) There is no heat, the fan blows, the temperature gauge shows normal, and there is no noticeable air flow out the vents.
Most cars heating system uses a series of vacuum operated diverters. If there is a problem with their operation, the air flow may be dead ended or blowing out the wrong area. Some causes could be a bad vacuum line, or a broken diaphragm in one of the diverters.
2) I get air flow, but its cold.
Two possible problems here. One is that you are low on engine coolant. You see, the system is designed to reduce coolant flow to the cabin when coolant is low. This may seem cold to you, but it is protecting the engine. When you stop and let the car cool down, check the coolant level. The other possible problem is that the thermostat has failed in the open position, not allowing the coolant to heat up. Well, this may be good for the engine right? Wrong! Engines don't like cold and engines don't like hot. They like warm (180 degrees or so).
3) I get nothing, no fan, no blowing no nothing.
Well, this would seem like an electrical problem with the blower motor. Start with the fuse and go from there.
Now, these all pertain to vehicles without electronic climate control. Once you add a computer in between, there is a whole different set of things we need to do. And most times, its the computer that has faulted and needs to be replaced.
Bob, The Auto Answer Man
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