My car heater gets warm but not as hot as it should when it is cold outside. Do I need a new thermostat?
Already Tried: I haven't had the car checked yet. It has been so cold this winter that I notice it more. I also have noticed that my car tends to almost overheat during the summer when I am in traffic but it has never actually overheated. The temperature gauge goes way past the midway mark but once I start moving again, it cools back down to normal. That's why I think it might be the thermostat. I hope that is all it is because a heater or coil can be very expensive.
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My car is a 2000 Oldsmobile Alero. Is it a v6 and has a little over 80,000 miles. I haven't tried anything yet but is seems that it has gotten worse this winter. I am holding off taking it to a shop because until I can get some idea what the problem is. I am thinking it may be the thermostat because during the summer, I have noticed that it appears my car is about to overheat because the temperature gauge goes way past midway if I am sitting in traffic but once I start moving again, it cools back down. It has never actually overheated though. During the winter, it heats up enough to thaw the windows but it never really get warm inside anymore.
One of three things are happening. You should probably take care of all three at the same time.
First - Thermostat and Gasket - You should replace the thermostat and gasket. It is fairly inexpensive. If the thermostat opens to soon, you wont get very hot air inside.
Second - Clean the area between the Radiator and Condensor and verify fan operation- This is probably what is causing your summer issues. Make sure your cooling fans (radiator fans) are turning on when the temperature gets higher than "midway" and turns on when you turn on the a/c. Also, the area between your radiator and condensor MUST be completely clean from any leaves and/or cotton from trees. You can blow this area out with compressed air or with a water hose.
Third - Lastly, flush your cooling system. This should take care of any buildup in your heater core. Heater cores blocking up is not very common in this car. They usually are good until the spring a leak which you will notice by your windows fogging up and not going away.
Seems like you have 2 issues, summer issue which is probably First or Second Repair and the winter issue is probably First or Third Repair.
All three of these repairs are fairly cheap and doesn't come close to the price of a new Heater Core.
Good luck and let us know if you have any other questions.