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Q & A: Does this sound like a leaking heating core?

Question by asingledream: Does this sound like a leaking heating core?
I have a ’92 Toyota Tercel. Over the past week or so, I’ve notice a light tendriling smoke coming from the heating vents when my car is idle for any length of time (ie. in a drive thru). The gauge appears to work as usual, and it never even gets half way into the ‘red zone’. The smoke has no distinctive scent, but there isn’t a lot of it, so it would be hard to tell. I have been told that it is ‘likely’ a leaking heater core and it would be an expensive thing to fix. Is it safe to drive temporarily as long as I keep an eye on the coolant level and it doesn’t appear to get worse? This is a commuter car and rarely idles for any period of time, but I’m wondering if I can keep it running until I can afford to replace it.

Best answer:

Answer by ja man
Generally if the heater core is bad you will have a sweet smell in the cabin of the vihicle and also you should see fluid leaking on the ground on the side of the car that the heater core is located. As long as you aren’t losing fluid you shouldn’t worry about the heater just keep an eye on it. Also I’d check the exhaust and make sure there isn’t a leak in it that could be very dangerous for you.

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4 Responses to Q & A: Does this sound like a leaking heating core?

  1. Mr D

    if the coolant is not dropping and there is no “cotton candy” smell another thing to think about is if the fan is working properly on all speeds? it could be the fan going out and it could possibly burn the car to the ground, so if the fan is not working on all speeds get it replaced, stop using the fan etc. it till you do.

  2. pops

    the steam comming from the heat vents USUALLY indicates heater core leakage….HOWEVER, if the hose connections at the core are loose, it will allow coolant to leak into the vent area also causing steam/vapor inside the vehicle. a pressure test of the system and aVISUAL check of the connections will usually show the problem. heater cores are usually time consuming and expensive due to their locations in the car. be sure before spending the money on parts.

  3. monkeydick

    Most heater cores will leak into the cabin on the passenger side and the floor will be wet. You will also notice the sweet smell (anti freeze) the other answerwer mentioned.

  4. Uncle Red

    A leaking heater core will have a definite sweet smell to it. it may be simple condensation, is it humid and were you running the defrost or the ac on low. keep checking the level of the radiator……daily. If it starts going down go get some stop leak that is in a small tube. it is a silver powder, this stuff will float around int he cooling system and if there is a leak it will seal it up and the remaining will stay in the cooling system not blocking anything up. Then remember to get it repaired as soon as you can when it gets flushed this product may come off..

    Ya the exhaust isn’t anywhere near your vents. So I seriously doubt that is an issue. it would have to come up through the intake then into the system

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