You should do a pre-winter inspection of your car to make sure it is ready to face the freezing cold weather that will be arriving again in a few months. Identifying and repairing potential problems in your heating system before it gets cold will help to ensure you stay warm while driving, and also make sure your defroster will be capable of removing fog and ice buildup on your windows. One reason heating systems fail is due to the buildup of rust and sludge in the radiator and heating core – especially in older cars that had heating problems last winter. Here is how you can use a flexible borescope to inspect the heating system in your car to look for rust and sludge buildup.
The car must be turned off and the engine must be cool before you take off the radiator cap or disconnect the hoses to the heater core to avoid serious injuries and burns.
Checking the Radiator
Take the radiator cap off and snake the flexible end of the borescope into the radiator. You'll want to get the borescope as far as you can into the radiator to look for rust and sludge along the bottom.
If the radiator fluid is brownish, and you see sludge buildup under the radiator cap, this is a good sign you're going to find thick sludge and rust throughout the rest of the heating system.
Checking the Heater Core
Checking the heater core is more difficult than checking the radiator. Here is how you can go about checking the heater core:
- Locate the two hoses along the fire wall inside the engine compartment that go to the heater core situated under the dashboard where the front passenger sits.
- Set a catch basin under the hose connections to collect the antifreeze that will pour out when you disconnect the hose lines.
- Disconnect the bottom hose line, since the sludge and rust wills settle to the bottom first.
- Slide the borescope into the hose and check for debris and blockage.
- If you see a lot of rust and sludge, reconnect the hose lines and do a system flush.
- Reinspect the heater core and hose after the flush to see if you've removed all the sludge and gotten rid of any blockages.
- If the blockages remain, you should remove the heater core so you can remove the sludge manually, or replace the heater core with a new one.