Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

What Typically Causes the Heating or AC to Stop Working?

heating and AC

While both the heating and AC are connected - to an extent - within your car, they’re actually separate systems. Your car’s heater uses heated engine coolant to warm the air that is blown into the cabin, while the air conditioner uses a compressor driven by the engine, combined with both high pressure and low pressure lines, special refrigerant and many other components.

Potential problems with your car’s HVAC system

The potential issues here vary whether your heating has gone out or your car’s AC system is on the fritz.

Common reasons for the heating system not to work include the following:

  • Low coolant
  • Air in the coolant system
  • Malfunctioning heater core
  • Failed (or failing) thermostat

The potential issues with the AC system are different, and include:

  • Low refrigerant (will generally blow cool, but not cold)
  • Damaged compressor
  • Damaged compressor clutch
  • Damaged expansion valve
  • Damaged evaporator
  • Worn or stretched serpentine belt (required to operate the compressor and clutch)

As you can see, both systems are very different. However, if you’re experiencing problems from the HVAC controls, then it’s possible that the same issue will prevent both your air conditioning and heater from working. For instance, a failed blower motor won’t be able to blow air into the cabin. A failed fan switch will make it impossible to adjust the blower fan speed. There are a number of other potential issues, ranging from a failed relay to a blown fuse to a short in the wiring.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...

Related questions

Q: Heater not heating

The heater needs for the engine to be warm, and the temperature blend door to open, in order to direct heat to the passenger compartment from the AC side. If the radiator was plugged, then the engine may be overheating....

Q: Clicking from the AC system.

A clicking sound coming from your dash could be the blower motor fan blades contacting something or just a faulty relay that wont stay closed. If you can try to pinpoint when the problem mostly occurs, if its only the...

Q: HVAC is not working right

Hello. This is a programming problem. It is common on this vehicle. The HVAC module needs to be reprogrammed by the dealer to take care of this. Some of the time, the module will need to be replaced but most...