Independent Subaru Service

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Staying Warm in the Alaska Cold

Turning a knob on your dashboard is just the first step of your vehicle's heating system. There's a lot more involved in getting heat inside your vehicle to keep you warm. Before turning your heat on, it is best to allow the engine to warm up first. Once your vehicle's engine has warmed up, the heating components can do their job to provide serious warmth inside.

The Heat Process Starts in the Engine

As a simple explanation, the pistons in your vehicle's engine are designed to allow in a mixture of gasoline and air and then causes an "explosion" in the cylinder. Because the walls of a cylinder are thin and the engine block is mostly hollow these "explosions", with the help of engine friction causes a build-up of heat.

The temperatures in an engine combustion chamber can get as high as 4,500 F (2,500 C). Much of this heat goes out through your vehicle's exhaust system. The hollow space inside the cylinder head, and around the valves, is filled with coolant that has been added to your vehicle. If an engine is allowed to run without coolant for very long, the extreme heat will causes serious problems and could even cause the engine to seize up completely.

Coolant Is Needed For Heat

The coolant that is needed in your vehicle for the cooling system is also needed for the heating system. Because engine parts become damaged at high temperatures, the added coolant circulates through the engine, cools it down and then passes that heat on through to the heater core.

The heater core, a small radiator-like unit located under your dashboard or HVAC housing, works like a heat exchanger. The heater core is comprised of numerous coils and has a blower motor. The coolant that was warmed in the cylinder head flows through the heater core and then returns to the pump.

Calling For Heat

When you turn on your vehicle's heater, the system calls for the blower-motor fan to blow over the heater core and then directs that heat into the inside of your automobile.

If your engine has not warmed up sufficiently when the air is especially cold outside, your vehicle's heater could actually blow cold air inside. Allow your engine to heat up as it will help it produce the heat you want and will allow your thermostat to open so your engine's coolant will circulate efficiently. An adequately warmed up engine allows the heater core to build up and retain heat so that when the fan blows over it you get nice warm air.

A& A's ASE Certified Technicians are experts in your vehicle's heater system inspection, diagnosis and repair. If you suspect that something is not right with your heating system give us a call. You can be confident that your vehicle will get professional heating/cooling service at A & A The Shop in Anchorage, AK!

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