When I turn the thermostat to the warmest setting, it will not blow warm air, even after the engine has warmed up. I checked, and there is radiator fluid in both the radiator and backup tank. I also checked under the passenger side (where the thermostat knob connects), and it IS connected. The engine doesn't overheat, even on longer drives. What could be causing this?
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there is a heater inlet valve that is controlled by either a cable or a vacuum diaphram. This heater inlet valve is usually on the engine side of the firewall. If the cable is broken or loose you will be unable to open the valve and port warm coolant to your heater core. If the vacuum line to the diaphram is cracked, broken, or loose then the same result. If everything looks correct, try moving your controls to full hot and checking the position of the valve. Go back and forth between full hot and full cold and check to see if the valve is changing position with your control input. If it doesn't change then either the cable is broken where you can't see the break (if cable equipped) or there is a vacuum leak upstream of the valve or the diaphram itself is leaking. In the latter case, time for a new valve.
Thermostat is located on the drivers side front of the engine, underneath. You will need to drain your antifreeze first of course. Disconnect the lower radiator hose from the thermostat housing, then remove the housing and thermostat. Take note of the direction the thermostat is oriented so you can put the new one in the same way. Install new thermostat, reinstall housing & lower rad hose. Check your owners manual or repair book for quantity of antifreeze to refill! It doesn't always want to take all of it at first. If you fall into the trap of not putting all of it in, you WILL overheat your engine & most likely blow a head gasket. Best procedure I've found is to elevate the front of the car & remove the bleed screw from the passengers side top of the radiator, then fill. That will help the air escape from the system. Air pockets in the system = hot spots and you dont want those.
It is most probably the problem with blend door or blend door actuator. But just in case I would suggest to follow the entire procedure:
First you have to identify what causes the problem.
To do this you have to: 1)When engine is cold check the level of coolant. If it is low fill it up. 2)Start engine and check if engine reaches regular temperature. If your engine is not heated enough it means your thermostat does not work properly and should be replaced 3)If engine temperature is normal, then check the temperature of pipes that go to/from heater core. These pipes are located up the fire wall (easier access is from the passenger side). If pipe/pipes are cold (even engine is warm) it means you heater core is plugged and should be flushed. Keep in mind, flushing the whole cooling system is different from flushing heater core. 4)If pipe/pipes are hot/warm, turn off the fan, switch controller to the hot position, wait for 3-4 minutes and turn on the fan. Note if the cold air blows first or warm air blows first but it cools down in 5-10 seconds. If the air blows cold than it is most probably the problem with blend door or blend door actuator. 5)If air blows warm first and then cools down, then while running engine and remaining the transmission in PARKING position, press on the gas pedal until your engine reaches 3,000 RPM. Check if your heater blows warm/hot air. If it does, then your water pump does not work properly and should be replaced. If the air still cold, I would suggest flushing the heater core.
You probably have a bad thermostat - the one that controls water flow to the radiator. It's supposed to stay closed until the engine reaches proper operating temperature. But when they fail, it's usually in the open position so the water circulate to the radiator all the time. The engine takes longer to warm up, and you shiver in the meantime. It does eventually get hot - it just takes a lot longer. I bet if you replace that thermostat you'll be toasty in no time. As for the cigarette lighter, your portable heater may have blown the fuse.