Feeling Left Out In The Cold? Time For A Checkup

Your morning commute in frigid weather will soon begin, but only cold air comes out of the heating vents. Driving while wearing a thick coat can help keep you warm behind the wheel, but it will take some expert sleuthing to get your heater and defroster functioning again.

“There’s any number of reasons why a heater or defroster isn’t working. Sometimes they are simple fixes, other times they are indicative of larger problems,” says Steve Schaeber, manager of service training for the Mobile Air Conditioning Society.

“Heating and ventilation system of your vehicle is like anything else; if you pay attention to it and maintain it you can reduce the chances of an expensive repair.”

A heater or defroster fails for one of three reasons, Schaeber says. There could be an electrical problem such as a blown fuse, an air flow problem within the ventilation system itself, or an issue with the vehicle’s cooling system (such as lack of antifreeze).

Experienced technicians can often spot problems with a visual inspection, though many modern cars also have specialized codes that can be deciphered by a diagnostic test.

Schaeber offers the following tips on what to do if your heater or defroster isn’t working:

  • A heater/defroster could fail because of a ventilation problem. For instance, leaves and twigs accumulated during summer and fall may be blocking the vents.
  • A complication with the electrical system. Have the fuses checked to potentially find the root of the issue.
  • The cooling system itself may be to blame. Make sure you have enough antifreeze and the system is functioning properly. Some problems can be diagnosed visually, while others require a diagnostic scan for trouble codes.
  • Dust accumulated on your vents could just be a sign you need to clean your interior. If you wipe it down and dust reappears shortly after, find out if your cabin air filter needs to be replaced.