Troubleshooting Dodge W100 Heater Core Problems
There are many reasons for the heating system in the Dodge W100 Power Wagon to malfunction, but in almost all instances the problem can be traced back to the heater core. Similar in function to the car radiator, the heater core heats the cabin by transferring the heat from the radiator coolant to the cabin air. Dodge W100 heater cores rarely break down, but when they do it can be quite a pain to replace as it will entail removing the car dashboard. So if you notice that the heater in your W100 is not working properly, follow these troubleshooting tips to determine the exact source of the problem.
Leaking coolant and antifreeze
Look for signs of coolant and antifreeze inside the cabin. If you notice puddles in the passenger-side foot well or there is a sweet smell permeating in the cabin when the heater is running (some people describe antifreeze smell as similar to maple syrup), it means that the coolant and antifreeze is not reaching the heater core and is leaking out.
Low coolant levels
Check if the radiator's coolant reservoir has still enough coolant and antifreeze and refill it immediately if the level is low. Even if the heater core is working properly, it will start to malfunction once it is not receiving an adequate amount of coolant.
Smoking heater core
With the heater turned on, check the vents and defroster ducts for puffs of white smoke. Also, check if the windshield is fogging up while the heater runs and after shutting it off. Smoking heater cores are a sign that there is not enough coolant/antifreeze reaching it and that the core is starting to overheat.
Check the hoses
With the engine still warm, touch the two hoses running from the engine block to the heater core. If one of the hose is colder than the other, coolant is not circulating properly to and from the heater core. In addition, check the condition of the thermostat and see if it is still functioning properly. If the thermostat is working at the correct engine temperature and there's enough coolant in the radiator, it means that the heater core is not working.
Maintenance Tips for Dodge W100 Heater Core
The heater core in your Dodge W100 Power Wagon is the one thing that's separating you from a warm, comfortable drive to a freezing one in the dead of winter, so make sure that it is properly maintained at all times. Though Dodge W100 heater cores are designed for constant, heavy-duty use, they still need proper care and maintenance every now and then to ensure smooth, problem-free operation as well as a long service life. The following are some tips on how to maintain the heater core in the W100.
Regularly inspect for leaks.
Most heater core problems can be traced back to leaks in the hoses connecting the heater core to the radiator and the core itself. So before taking your Power Wagon out into the cold, we recommend doing a visual inspection of the heater cores and connections for leaks. Some of the tell-tale signs of heater core leakage include puddles of coolant in the passenger-side footwell and the smell of antifreeze (which some car owners describe as something similar to the smell maple syrup) inside the cabin when the heater is turned on.
Flush and refill the cooling system.
Regular flushing of the radiator doesn't only clean the radiator's insides; it also unclogs blocked heater cores as well. Make sure to drain the radiator completely of coolant and dispose it according to your state's environmental laws. If the radiator still contains residue of the old coolant, it may contaminate the new batch. And if the heater core still doesn't function properly after flushing, the core itself may be broken and needs replacing.
Check for and maintain adequate coolant in your radiator.
Even if the heater core is in perfect working condition, it will not be able to work properly if it does not receive an adequate amount of coolant from the radiator. Check the coolant reservoir regularly and refill it the coolant levels are too low. But if you find yourself refilling the reservoir frequently, there may be a leak in one of the radiator or heater core hoses, the heater core, or the radiator itself.