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How Does a Car Heater Work

Suganya Sukumar
Car heater system is a very important component that regulates the temperature of the car engine and provide warmth inside your car. Tap ahead to understand how a car heater works.
A car heater is the part of your car that regulates the internal temperature of your car's system. It provides the optimum temperature required to start your car's engine. Due to the high temperature caused by the engine or motor and combustion of fuel, a lot of heat is generated inside the car system.
So, in order for it to maintain the optimal working temperature of your car, the heater should be maintained properly.

Working of a Car Heater

A car is one of the internal combustion vehicles in which the combustion of a fuel, usually a fossil fuel, takes place. All internal combustion vehicles have a cooling system. The cooling system is necessary in any car to maintain the temperature by controlling the heat generated in it. The car heating system and cooling system is interlinked with each other and the malfunction of either will directly affect the other.
For this car part to work efficiently, the car engine should be fully warmed up and the liquid coolant must flow around the engine and absorb the excess heat generated. Now, what is a liquid coolant? Let's do a small experiment. Take hot tea in a cup and dip half of the cup inside a water bucket for sometime.
What do you observe? The heat from the tea is considerably reduced. But, where did the heat go? Yes, the heat is absorbed by the water, or in other words, the heat energy is transferred from one medium to another.
The liquid coolant (water) is mixed with antifreeze agents, such as methanol, ethylene glycol, etc., depending on the temperature of the atmosphere. Basically, there are three main parts that are primarily involved in the working of this system. They are:
☛ Car engine
☛ Thermostat
☛ Heater core
The car engine is a vital part of a vehicle in which the internal combustion takes place. Combustion of fuel in an internal combustion engine produces an enormous amount of heat energy. The excess heat generated in the car engine is absorbed by the liquid coolant. The coolant gets heated and is transferred to the heater core, where it is cooled and comes back to the engine to absorb heat again. There is a device called the thermostat which is present in between the car's engine and the radiator.
The thermostat regulates the flow of coolant to the radiator. It blocks the coolant until the optimum temperature is attained inside the heater core of the engine. If the temperature of the engine goes above 95° C (approximately), the thermostat opens up and allows the coolant to pass around the engine. Thus, it helps the car engine to warm-up quickly.
The heater core is located under the dashboard of your car. It consists of two hoses that are attached to it. One hose (the inlet) supplies a hot liquid coolant from the engine to the heater core and the other is an outlet hose that returns the cooled liquid coolant back to the engine. The heater core is just like a small radiator through which air from a blower is passed. The heater core consists of tubing which has fins attached to them.
The fins increase the surface area in order to let the heat transfer from the coolant to the air from the external fan or blower. When the hot coolant enters the heater core, it is cooled by the air blown from the fan. The coolant is cooled in the heater core and it is again recycled to pass through the car engine. The heated air absorbs the heat from the coolant, and it is directed to the interiors of the vehicle through the vents, thereby keeping the passenger cabin warm.
Some engines do not have a liquid or water cooling system. Such engines cannot use heater cores to cool the heat produced in the car engine. Here the alternative is to direct the hot air from the car engine to the passenger cabin.
The temperature of the hot air is controlled or regulated by mixing with the unheated air outside the car. But, this has a safety issue because a leak in the exhaust system can let harmful fumes into the passenger cabin.
One of the major problems in a car heater system is coolant leakage and the incorrect levels of coolant. So, it is important to monitor the mentioned parameters to ensure efficient working of this system.