the heat(er) is on

If you were one of the people pointing to the ground beneath the car in the last couple of days looking at the unusually large build-up of water, and were fooled by the platitudes of “it’s just the air-conditioning”, then you’ll be keen to discover that there is, in fact, more to it than that.

As it turns out, the additional water was from the car’s cooling system. Regular readers will be aware that I don’t often prattle on about the providence of God, but you have to admit that for us to be offered a lift to bible study by the third person we asked, and then for them to agree to pick us up and drop us home, despite living in completely the opposite direction, and then for them to turn out to be a qualified mechanic, and then for them to offer to look at the problem with the car. That’s a lot of co-incidence, isn’t it?

If you’re asking how I can go to the same bible study as someone for over four years, and not know they’re a qualified mechanic, I say to you that Kel has tried to discourage me from talking shop with people, and in this instance, I guess I’ve listened.

Please bear with me as I try to bring you up to speed with the car knowledge that I enhanced on the car ride home. We all know that cars need water to cool them down. This water mostly lives in the radiator, and is then pumped around the car via a water pump, and a bunch of pipes. When you run out of water in the car (as we did on Sunday night), bad things can happen to the car. Pipes can crack, or the head gasket of the car can crack: not good at all.

What I didn’t know is that the water pipes also go through the car heater, and the switch that turns the car heater from “hot” to “cold” is also hooked up to the pipes. In fact, in our case, it looks like the switch has decided to fail, and is allowing all the precious heat-taking water to go out of the car, and onto the ground underneath.

All that remains now is to find out (tomorrow!) how much it’s going to cost to fix (and get the car serviced while we’re at it).

More information on car cooling systems, if you’re especially curious.

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  1. is a great site for finding out those kinds of things. Tim explained that it was a bad idea to turn the engine off and then fill the radiator up with cold water (which made sense once he said it, but was in fact something that we did anyway); I knew a bit about the cooling system, but I didn’t realise that something going wrong with the switch that turns the car heater from hot to cold could stuff up the entire cooling system.

    I didn’t realise until it happened to someone I was travelling with, though, that the air-conditioner belt can snap, and stop the whole car from working until it’s removed.

    The things I don’t know about cars could fill several volumes.

    Oh, and the replacement heater tap / coolant / labour? $275. I don’t know that I’ll be going back to a Holden dealer for repairs any time soon.

  2. Update: turns out our Orix (company we bought the car from) 2 year / 40000kms warranty was still good for some of the repairs, so the total bill was down from 1400 to just shy of 1100.

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