By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor
Lots of people have all kinds of stuff that they keep in their cars all the time. Typical items include CDs, pens, tissues, tools, coins, registration, insurance, repair papers, sunglasses, etc. But there’s one thing that I keep in all my cars (and, grudgingly, those of my friends and family) for use as an HVAC diagnostic tool: a good ole kitchen thermometer.
After all, one of the best ways to know if something isn’t working correctly is to know how it should be working when all is well. Therefore, I recommend keeping one of those inexpensive analog thermometers in your car or truck’s center vent, so that you can keep an eye on what temperature the air is when it’s blowing out at you.
And I mean keep it there all the time, not just when you’re doing diagnostic work. That way, you can see what temperature the outlet air is during the spring, summer, fall and winter. I think you’ll be surprised by what you see!
This past winter, I gave all the MACS staffers one of these instruments to put in their dash vents on the way home from work, and let me know the hottest temp reading they could achieve with the fan and temperature knobs at their highest settings. Here are a few of the results from that test:
2010 Jeep Patriot 160°F
1998 Jeep Cherokee 120°F
2012 Hyundai S 150°F
2004 Chevy Malibu Maxx 140°F
1999 VW Jetta 160°F
2011 Nissan Altima 155°F
Obviously there was a problem with that Jeep Cherokee, and I’ll let you know that a partially clogged heater core was to blame. What was interesting to note is that the air still felt like it was hot enough coming out of the Cherokee, though certainly not like the Patriot.
Go the extra step and splurge on this more expensive thermometer model. For around $10, this digital one can read temperatures between -40°F and +302°F.
Try this for yourself, and let me know your results! Send your hottest and coldest readings to: firstname.lastname@example.org for posting in a future blog. Thanks!
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The 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.