If you know what your heater core is without it failing on you, you might know a thing or two about cars. Hopefully I’ll be able to teach you one more thing about them today.
At the fundamental level your heater core basically takes heat from your engine and radiates it into your car’s cabin.
How Does A Heater Core Work?
Your engine produces a lot of heat while it’s working. In fact, it can get up to 500 degrees F while driving. In one of our previous articles about engine coolant, we explained how engine coolant combined with water helps keep your engine cool enough to operate.
You can see the heater core here, courtesy of cars.com. The heater core has hot engine coolant run through it from the engine, where cabin air is blown over it.
The heater core, as seen on the top left has fins that increase its surface area. This is important, because the increased surface area helps the fan blowing air over it transfer more heat to your cabin.
When you control your heat in the cabin all you’re really doing is limiting the amount of hot coolant that runs through the radiator. Less coolant equals less heat to exchange with the heater core.
In addition to heating your cabin, the heater core also provides hot air for your windshield defroster.
Simple enough, right?
As with many things in life, it is, until things start to go wrong. And when things go wrong, they can go very wrong with the heater core.
Signs Of A Damaged Heater Core
First things first, if you suspect your car has heater core damage, take it to a mechanic as soon as possible. You can still drive your car if it has a heater repair issue, but I’d advise against it.
Considering heater cores often go bad due to coolant leaks, driving around with an issue can cause your engine to overheat at best, or at worst cause it to catch fire and sustain significant damage.
Some signs to look out for:
- Fog in your car/on all your car’s windows: When your heater core goes boom, one of the most common signs is all your windows fogging up, with every window being covered in condensation. You know the kind of condensation when you get into a cool car at night when you’re really sweaty? That kind.
- An “off” smell in your car. Engine coolant smells sickly sweet, often described as fruity or syrupy. If you can smell this, there’s most likely coolant leaking into your car. Check underneath your car if you smell this, because some of it may have spilled onto the ground.
- The heater isn’t heating. If your heater is blowing, but it not blowing hot air, or is only blowing hot air intermittently, there could be an issue with your heater core, especially if your engine is hot, but your cabin somehow ends up being cold.
- Car is using more coolant than normal. If your car is putting down coolant faster than we put down eggnog here at Protect My Car and you can’t figure out where it’s all going, your heater core may be blown. If you can’t find it beneath your car, check your passenger seat floor, it may be leaking there.
If you’re experiencing any of these, take the car to a mechanic to get checked out. Coolant leaks are no joke.
How Much Does A Heater Core Repair Cost?
The heater core itself is relatively inexpensive. You can buy the part yourself on Amazon for as low as $27 dollars for certain models.
The difficult part is labor, because it can take several hours to perform a heater core repair considering you have to take apart the dashboard to replace the heater core. It’ll take somewhere between 2-3 hours of repair time to fix it, which can drive the total repair cost up.
You may also have to replace your engine coolant as well if it leaked out, which adds somewhat to the cost.
Overall, you should budget around somewhere between $600-$1,000 for your heater core repair. If you’re handy, this is a very popular repair to attempt yourself, even though it can be difficult.
Does Your Extended Warranty Cover The Heater Core?
To make this easy on you, we’ve gone ahead and examined 4 of the largest extended warranty providers (including ourselves).
As a general rule, the heater core is covered by most of our competitor’s more comprehensive plans, but it’s covered by all of our own, even our least expensive coverage plan.
Protect My Car:
Heater Core Repair Covered: Driveline, Select, and Supreme Plans.
Direct Warranty Provider: Yes
Notes: The Heater Core is covered as a part of our lowest priced vehicle protection plan, Driveline as part of the air conditioning and heating.
Heater Core Repair Covered: Superior and Supreme
Direct Warranty Provider: Yes
Notes: Superior and Supreme are two of the higher end plans Endurance offers, with it’s lower priced options Select Premier, Secure, and Secure Plus not offering coverage for the heater core.
Heater Core Repair Covered: Diamond
Direct Warranty Provider: No
Notes: The heater core is only covered on the Diamond coverage, which is the highest level coverage offered, which can make it more expensive.
Heater Core Repair Covered: CARCHEX Care By AAS Titanium Plus, CARCHEX Care By AAS Titanium, American Auto Shield Diamond, Royal Protect (if premium option selected), Allegiance Ultimate, CARCHEX Care By Royal (with the premium option selected), Royal Administration Services (with the premium option selected), Allegiance Platinum, and Allegiance Gold.
Direct Warranty Provider: No
Notes: The Silver and Bronze levels of coverage, what one would expect to be the cheapest, do not cover the heater core, while Gold, Platinum and Titanium do.
What Is A Direct Warranty Provider?
So you’re probably wondering what the direct warranty provider bit is above. It’s an important distinction that is worth talking about.
A direct warranty provider is a warranty company that administrates and services its own claims, legally speaking. What that means, is when a direct warranty provider sells you an extended warranty, they are responsible for paying your claims, as well as handling any customer service issues that arise.
Direct providers can offer lower prices for their plans and better customer service because everything is handled in house.
Currently, only Protect My Car and Endurance are direct warranty providers.
Other extended warranty companies aren’t selling their own plans. When you buy a policy with them, they then transfer the responsibility for your future claims to a 3rd party finance company. They get paid, and then that finance company that you didn’t choose becomes the legal entity responsible for paying your claims.
This can be a huge hassle. Claims take longer to get paid, and we’ve seen prices that are more expensive.
That’s not to mention that the 3rd party finance company has no connection to you as a human being and has every financial incentive to pay as little as possible on your claim.
With over 13 years in this business, everyone will tell you that choosing a direct warranty provider is the best way to go. You’ll avoid getting a run around from claims agents, and instead will get help from a real person who wants to see you off smiling.
Want To Cover Your Heater Core? Protect My Car Is The Best Choice
While we’re certainly not the only company to cover your heater core, we’re the only company to cover it on our lowest cost plan, the Driveline, which also covers many other parts of your car including your engine and transmission.
As a proud direct warranty provider, you’ll never be mistreated when you join us. There’s a reason our average review score (TrustPilot, Consumer Affairs, BBB) is a 4.3/5.0, and I want you to find out why.
While your struts might not be covered, we can cover almost everything else, including expensive transmission and engine repairs that can set you back thousands.
We know there are a number of other great extended warranty companies out there, we know we’re the best and we want to prove it to you.
That’s why, for a limited time, we’re giving away $50 dollars in rewards just for getting a quote with us. From there, you’ll be able to shop all of our different plans, online, with no phone call needed. You can even buy the driveline in less than 5 minutes and have your Heater Core covered and ready to go.
Because we’re a direct warranty provider, you may find that our plans are significantly cheaper than what you’re paying right now.