We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Heater Core?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A heater core is a device which is used to generate warm air to heat the inside of a car, truck, or boat. Heater cores can be used with any vehicle which has a liquid-cooled engine, with air-cooled engines requiring a different method of heat generation. People who have noticed that their car heaters don't seem to be putting out as much heat as they used to may want to ask a mechanic to take a look at the heater core; it may need to be repaired or replaced.

The design of the heater core is similar to a radiator. Liquid from the engine passes through a series of tubes and fins in the heater core which are designed to dissipate heat rapidly so that the fluid, which is extremely hot from passing through the engine, will cool down. As the liquid moves through the device, air passing over or around the device picks up the heat, and this air can be directed into the cabin.

While a heater core alone cannot sufficiently cool engine coolant, it is part of the system which keeps engine coolant recirculating through the engine to prevent the engine from overheating. It also creates a way to use engine heat efficiently; rather than just venting the heated air, the heater core directs the air into the cabin so that people can be warm.

Obviously, people don't necessarily always want hot air being blown into the passenger compartment of a vehicle. The amount of air from the heater core which is allowed to enter the vehicle can be adjusted by turning knobs which open flaps to allow varying levels of air into the cabin. Passengers and drivers typically have a temperature dial which allows them to select a comfortable setting, along with fans which can be used to blow air into the cabin, and they may also be able to select the locations where air enters the cabins, opting to only have air blowing from the dash, for example, or to turn foot heaters on as well.

The tubes in a heater core can become clogged or bent, impeding the flow of fluid and reducing the amount of heat which can be transferred to the air which flows around the heater core. Heater cores can also develop leaks which create a problem by allowing the car to lose coolant and cause a similar lack of heat transfer. People who are experienced with cars can often replace their own heater cores, while people who are not comfortable with dismantling their dashboards may need to see a mechanic.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.