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View Full Version : the heat in my car doesn't work and i have to drive 500 miles


Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 09:27 PM
500 miles this week. It was 17 degrees here this morning. I was so happy when it warmed up to 35 for my drive home. I drove 90 miles before the sun came up and and 90 more after the sun went down.

Can I go buy a power inverter and use one of my space heaters? Is a cheap (>$100) inverter going to have enough amps to power a space heater? Is the car's electrical system able to handle it?

My real plan is to take the damn car to a shop, but it isn't at all convienent right now.

Thanks guys

JohnCU
01-05-2010, 09:29 PM
what's the wattage rating on your space heater?

jjsole
01-05-2010, 09:31 PM
I'm guessing, but am thinking an inverter needs to be <300w before a fuse blows to the cigarette lighter input.

FoBoT
01-05-2010, 09:34 PM
no
get a car heater, don't try to use a house heater

Rubycon
01-05-2010, 09:35 PM
A 1.5kW space heater will demand approximately 153 amperes continuous using an inverter from a 12V electrical system. This assumes a sine wave inverter of decent efficiency AND designed for 1500W+ continuous load!

Not very practical and there's a good chance at highway speed the heat loss will exceed ~5100 btu/hr the heater will output!

sjwaste
01-05-2010, 09:36 PM
If your heat doesn't work, you might have a problem with the car's cooling system. Is it that the blower doesn't turn on, or it never gets hot?

If it doesn't get hot, at least make sure (when the car is cold!) that there is enough antifreeze in it. If that's the case, its an issue of the mechanism that diverts coolant into the heater core for your heat that isn't working. Could be the control unit or the switching valve, but it narrows the issue.

And you definitely can't run a space heater from an inverter. Even if the inverter is 100% efficient (it isnt), a 750W space heater would draw ~60 amps @ 12 VDC. You don't have a circuit coming into the car that can handle that. We're talking at least 4 gauge wire to handle that on a 12V system.

Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 09:36 PM
no
get a car heater, don't try to use a house heater

i called every truck stop in the area and then walmart.. no dice

it never gets this cold around here and I guess these places have sold their stuff to people like me, or even truckers...

Fmr12B
01-05-2010, 09:36 PM
Wondering if a heating pad + inverter would work........

Savarak
01-05-2010, 09:36 PM
I thought the car interior heater works off heat from the engine when it gets warm enough....? that is why turning on the heater to HIGH("A/C off" mode) when your car is overheating, helps cool down the engine a little?

if i'm wrong, then FOOT -> MOUTH

BoomerD
01-05-2010, 09:38 PM
Try a local RV supply store.

Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 09:38 PM
A 1.5kW space heater will demand approximately 153 amperes continuous using an inverter from a 12V electrical system. This assumes a sine wave inverter of decent efficiency AND designed for 1500W+ continuous load!

Not very practical and there's a good chance at highway speed the heat loss will exceed ~5100 btu/hr the heater will output!

Dude, I really doube that my space heater wouldn't make me warm in my car. It might not be able to be powered on, but if I got past that, I really doubt it wil have a problem heating the thing up well enough for me to have to turn the damn thing off.

JulesMaximus
01-05-2010, 09:40 PM
Dress warmly and bring along a thermos of hot coffee or hot cocoa?

mugs
01-05-2010, 09:41 PM
Eh, just get yourself a can of Sterno... what could go wrong?

Seriously... long johns?

sjwaste
01-05-2010, 09:42 PM
Dude, I really doube that my space heater wouldn't make me warm in my car. It might not be able to be powered on, but if I got past that, I really doubt it wil have a problem heating the thing up well enough for me to have to turn the damn thing off.

Uh, good luck turning it ON. You'll immediately blow a fuse, or if for some reason that fails, burn up your wiring and possibly start a fire.

Rubycon
01-05-2010, 09:42 PM
I thought the car interior heater works off heat from the engine when it gets warm enough....? that is why turning on the heater to HIGH("A/C off" mode) when your car is overheating, helps cool down the engine a little?

if i'm wrong, then FOOT -> MOUTH

The water circulates through the engine cooling channels and through supply return lines feeding the heater core. This happens regardless if the thermostat (big hose running to radiator) is open or not. The slider from cold to hot is cabled to a damper controlling how much air recirculated inside the cabin passes through the heater core. The heater core is usually always warm.

Soooo if the thermostat is stuck in the summer months and the temperature goes way up you can get some beneficial cooling by turning the fan on HIGH and moving the slider all the way over to HOT. Of course it will get hot as hell inside the car but it's probably better than the radiator cap relieving itself and walking! ;)

Wondering if a heating pad + inverter would work........

Yes as an ass or back heater. Get some footies and it would probably be fairly comfortable. ;)

MikeyIs4Dcats
01-05-2010, 09:44 PM
inverter and an electric blanket


j/k

Rubycon
01-05-2010, 09:46 PM
inverter and an electric blanket


j/k

Actually that would work! Heating pads/electric blankets sip power compared to space heaters. They are heating YOU instead of wasting power to heat the air around you. This is why electric mittens can run off a pair of batteries all day long and keep your hands toasty. ;)

Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 09:47 PM
If your heat doesn't work, you might have a problem with the car's cooling system. Is it that the blower doesn't turn on, or it never gets hot?

If it doesn't get hot, at least make sure (when the car is cold!) that there is enough antifreeze in it. If that's the case, its an issue of the mechanism that diverts coolant into the heater core for your heat that isn't working. Could be the control unit or the switching valve, but it narrows the issue.

And you definitely can't run a space heater from an inverter. Even if the inverter is 100% efficient (it isnt), a 750W space heater would draw ~60 amps @ 12 VDC. You don't have a circuit coming into the car that can handle that. We're talking at least 4 gauge wire to handle that on a 12V system.

Yeah, the coolant level seems fine. I did a flush a few months ago when I had a recuring "low engine coolant" indicator. I followed the prestone label exactly, except my radiator didn't have a draincock so I drained it by unclamping the lowest radiator hose. I filled back up with a 70/30 mix.

I am not an expert mechanic, this is about as technical as I get.

BTW the low engine coolant indicator still kept coming on and off occasionally until about a month ago it went away and I don't think I've seen it since.

Heres a better description of the issue:

The heat will generally blow cold air. But occasionally hot air will come out. I usually leave the fan in the off position and when I feel warm air radiating from the vents I turn the fan over to the 1 or 2 position. The air usually quickly turns to cold. Then I turn the fan back off.

Also, the heat seems to be more consistent, hotter, and last a lot longer before going back to cold if I am at sustained highway speeds. 80MPH is a lot better than 70MPH. Also, the heat works much better in 40 degree weather than 20 degree weather.

Rubycon
01-05-2010, 09:48 PM
Yeah, the coolant level seems fine. I did a flush a few months ago when I had a recuring "low engine coolant" indicator. I followed the prestone label exactly, except my radiator didn't have a draincock so I drained it by unclamping the lowest radiator hose. I filled back up with a 70/30 mix.

I am not an expert mechanic, this is about as technical as I get.

BTW the low engine coolant indicator still kept coming on and off occasionally until about a month ago it went away and I don't think I've seen it since.

Heres a better description of the issue:

The heat will generally blow cold air. But occasionally hot air will come out. I usually leave the fan in the off position and when I feel warm air radiating from the vents I turn the fan over to the 1 or 2 position. The air usually quickly turns to cold. Then I turn the fan back off.

Also, the heat seems to be more consistent, hotter, and last a lot longer before going back to cold if I am at sustained highway speeds. 80MPH is a lot better than 70MPH. Also, the heat works much better in 40 degree weather than 20 degree weather.

Is your water pump ok?

Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 09:50 PM
Is your water pump ok?

Perhaps not. How do I check that?

BoomerD
01-05-2010, 09:53 PM
I plumbed a hot-water type automotive heater into the back of my pick-up 20-some years ago. Had the radiator-style heater core and a built-in fan. Ran on 12 volts, but I don't remember the amperage. (maybe 20-25 amps?)
Seems like it was about $125-$150 at the local NAPA store, but this was in western Wyoming where every dammed thing cost about twice what it would have in civilization.

Kind of like these:

http://www.jcwhitney.com/AUXILIARY_SPACE_HEATERS?ID=12;0;0;0;100001;Product Name;0;0;0;0;2002893;0;0

http://www.jcwhitney.com/HEATER_KITS_FOR_ON-ROAD_and_OFF-ROAD_VEHICLES?ID=12;0;0;0;100001;ProductName;0;0;0 ;0;2002895;0;0


What kind of vehicle is it? (you posted your vehicle's symptoms while I was posting the above)
You COULD have an air bubble in the system that's not allowing hot water into the heater core. Older BMW's were famous for this, so BMW finally added a bleeder screw at the thermostat so you could "burp" the cooling system and get rid of the air. (not only does it not allow the heater to work right, it also causes hot spots in the engine where coolant doesn't circulate properly)

bctbct
01-05-2010, 09:54 PM
Sounds like you may have a coolant level problem. Check that. Otherwise the heater core may be clogged. I always thought coolant was a 50/50 mix.

Do you hear any gurging sounds? You may have air in the coolant system.

BHeemsoth
01-05-2010, 09:55 PM
Possibly a thermostat issue?

Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 09:56 PM
Sounds like you may have a coolant level problem. Check that. Otherwise the heater core may be clogged. I always thought coolant was a 50/50 mix.

Do you hear any gurging sounds? You may have air in the coolant system.

50/50 is good, 70/30 is better.

No, I never hear any gurgling sounds.

Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 09:59 PM
You know, every time I try to add fluid via the radiator cap, it just dumps the fluid out of some unknown drain underneath the car.

I know its got plenty of fluid in there, but if its got air in it or if its low, I don't really know how to do anything about that.

Rubycon
01-05-2010, 10:01 PM
You know, every time I try to add fluid via the radiator cap, it just dumps the fluid out of some unknown drain underneath the car.

I know its got plenty of fluid in there, but if its got air in it or if its low, I don't really know how to do anything about that.

There should be a hose just below the neck where the radiator cap screws down. Where is that running to?

If you pour water in the radiator it should not be running out somewhere else!

XZeroII
01-05-2010, 10:03 PM
50/50 is good, 70/30 is better.

No, I never hear any gurgling sounds.

Too much coolant will eat away at your radiator. 50/50 is better than 70/30. Especially if it's only getting down to 17 degrees. If it were normally 17 degrees below zero, then you might have an argument for 70/30.

Sea Moose
01-05-2010, 10:04 PM
you could wear a snuggie while you drive? You will look life a poof but at least you will be a warm poof

bctbct
01-05-2010, 10:05 PM
You should have an overflow container, coolant shouldnt be hitting the ground.

Could be a tstat issue, if it remains open in cold temps the coolant may never get hot. Try letting the car idle for 30 min and see if the heater works then.

Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 10:07 PM
The hose runs to the overflow jug. Thats where I learned as a boy you could add coolant to the system.

I did in fact pour some water in there before I posted here on AT. But when I put fluid in there I have my doubts about whether it gets sucked in to the system or not.

Lets say it only sucks the fluid in through there if it needs it. That's how its supposed to work, right?

If it does, then I'd say its a good idea for me to crank up the car now and add fluid to that jug every 10 minutes for the next hour or so...

What about this mysterious expullsion of fluid that's occuring? Does anyone know about that? 2000 Buick Century BTW

DrPizza
01-05-2010, 10:07 PM
Sounds like a problem with your heater core. I'm sending this thread over to the garage. -DrPizza

bctbct
01-05-2010, 10:09 PM
If you are leaking fluid it could be a water pump(hear any squealing under hood?) or a bad heater core(smell coolant or floor board wet?)

Overflow container has a line for fluid level. Add to there and it will take the fluid to the radiator system as required.

bctbct
01-05-2010, 10:10 PM
Sounds like a problem with your heater core. I'm sending this thread over to the garage. -DrPizza

wait, we're not done yet :)

Shaftatplanetquake
01-05-2010, 10:12 PM
If you are leaking fluid it could be a water pump(hear any squealing under hood?) or a bad heater core(smell coolant or floor board wet?)

Overflow container has a line for fluid level. Add to there and it will take the fluid to the radiator system as required.

I think I've smelled coolant occasionally but its not strong or often. I never noticed any wetness on the floorboard and I wear sandals 90% of the time.

chusteczka
01-05-2010, 10:14 PM
An inverter with a heating pad (http://detonator.dynamitedata.com/cgi-bin/redirect.pl?user=u00000687&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.walmart.com%2Fsearch%2Fsearch-ng.do%3Fsearch_constraint%3D0%26ic%3D48_0%26search _query%3Dheating%2Bpad%26Find.x%3D0%26Find.y%3D0%2 6Find%3DFind) would work, just as was mentioned earlier.

Also, get a couple blankets. One over your shoulders and one on your lap. That will keep you toasty warm, no problem.

My first car had a broken heater that did not work at all. I kept a few blankets in the car and was fine. This lasted for a few Chicago winters. There are times when we have to make do with less than normal.

bctbct
01-05-2010, 10:16 PM
Strange, you have no symptoms other than no heat. Sure it has a heater? :)

iGas
01-06-2010, 12:51 AM
An inverter with a heating pad (http://detonator.dynamitedata.com/cgi-bin/redirect.pl?user=u00000687&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.walmart.com%2Fsearch%2Fsearch-ng.do%3Fsearch_constraint%3D0%26ic%3D48_0%26search _query%3Dheating%2Bpad%26Find.x%3D0%26Find.y%3D0%2 6Find%3DFind) would work, just as was mentioned earlier.

Also, get a couple blankets. One over your shoulders and one on your lap. That will keep you toasty warm, no problem.

My first car had a broken heater that did not work at all. I kept a few blankets in the car and was fine. This lasted for a few Chicago winters. There are times when we have to make do with less than normal.
Heat pad is a good idea, but frost is another issue that have to be dealt with.

The heater in my old Westfalia was almost nonexistent and one of this (http://detonator.dynamitedata.com/cgi-bin/redirect.pl?user=u00000687&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fs%2Fref%3Dnb_ss% 3Furl%3Dsearch-alias%253Daps%26field-keywords%3Dcar%2Bheaters%26x%3D0%26y%3D0) served me well.

ussfletcher
01-06-2010, 02:22 AM
You could hook up a kerosene heater in the back seat or something. I'm pretty sure it could be safe.

PhoKingGuy
01-06-2010, 02:46 AM
You could hook up a kerosene heater in the back seat or something. I'm pretty sure it could be safe.

Just throw a burning 50 gal drum in the backseat, itll be fine

CrackRabbit
01-06-2010, 03:28 AM
What about this mysterious expullsion of fluid that's occuring? Does anyone know about that? 2000 Buick Century BTW

I think I know where you might be losing fluid at, the 3.1 and 3.8 used a plastic water pump bypass elbow. As they aged they have a tendency to crack and leak, happened on my GF's old Regal. Once it was replaced with a metal one no more coolant loss.

StageLeft
01-06-2010, 06:07 AM
Heated blanket is best bet so far. Your issue is textbook case of bad thermostat, but I've not read the rest of the thread; if your engine appears to be up to normal operating temps but just no heat then that isn't it, but if your temp needle just never gets all that high then thermostat is stuck open.

500 miles like that will just plain old suck, no way to make that sound any better.

x-alki
01-06-2010, 06:14 AM
Check for an air bleeder around your thermostat housing. Could be your system is air locked.

LTC8K6
01-06-2010, 07:00 AM
http://www.sportsimportsltd.com/sofl12voheel.html

bruceb
01-06-2010, 07:20 AM
50/50 mix is best for antifreeze. And yes, an air bubble could certainly cause the issue. But I would first try a new thermostat and pressure cap. A thermostat that is stuck open will cause little or no heat.

desy
01-06-2010, 10:17 AM
I like all the 12 V heater options from space type to heated seat covers to blankets this will cheaply get you by for the one trip.
Stuck open thermistat or mould will build up on the AC/heater cores blocking heat is my first guess
I don't think you have adquately described what's happening under the hood regarding the coolant in terms of observations of what is happing what has been done in what order

skyking
01-06-2010, 10:36 AM
No gauge, just an idiot light? Do you have a cooking or other thermometer that gets to 200F?
When you get home open the hood and feel the top tank next to the cap. If it is relatively cool you can safely open the cap slowly. Measure the fluid temp.
If it is greater than 160F, you have airlock/heater control valve/heater core issues.
If it is way less than that you have thermostat/cooling fan issues.

Bad water pumps will lead to severe overheating. Idle it a while with the cap off. Watch for signs of circulation. See what the temperature does.

SpatiallyAware
01-06-2010, 10:48 AM
Just fyi - in a case like this make SURE to bring blankets and crap with you. It would really suck to end up completely broken down with no heat, no blankets, no nothing.

exar333
01-06-2010, 11:09 AM
Heater core dead? This happened to me in college, and I was too poor to get it fixed. Went three winters in MN with no heat...when I bought a new car, being warm felt like a luxury!! :)

darom
01-06-2010, 01:52 PM
I would bet on a stuck/closed heater control valve. It allows hot water into the heater core inside your car. The way to check it is when the car is warmed up, first, to check if the heater hose entering the control valve is hot and then the output hose going to your car cabin. If both hoses are hot, it is working. If not, it is stuck and you will need to spend $20-40 to replace it.

Here are some examples of what it looks like:
http://www.shopping.com/xDN-automotive_parts_and_accessories--heater_control_valve

exar333
01-06-2010, 03:53 PM
Wear warm shoes...The feet get cold in long drives with no heat.

Shaftatplanetquake
01-06-2010, 05:56 PM
Thanks for helping guys.

I hate to say it, as its an embarassment, but the problem was actually the coolant level. Apparently the water that I put in the overflow tank (right before posting) solved the problem. That is kinda odd because I ran the car a few times after that and the heat wasn't working, but I noticed about 20 miles into my trip with blankets draped all over myself that the heat was fine. That made my day one hell of a lot better than I was expecting it to be.

The heat worked absolutely perfect today for my 200 mile round trip. If anything it was too hot.

My GPS doesn't work now, because I tried the space heater hooked up to the inverter and apparently messed something up with the cigarette lighter. Yes, the GPS is powered off of the cigarette lighter.

I checked the cig lighter fuse and some other fuses in the same general area of the fuse box, and they were all fine.

Any ideas?

skyking
01-06-2010, 06:06 PM
No worries man, glad it was easy:)
You may have cooked the connection on the back of the cigarette lighter. IF it is nutted on there and passes on to the GPS off the same post you may just need to tighten it up.
New adventures:P

sjwaste
01-06-2010, 06:22 PM
Looks like I got your diagnosis AND warned you correctly about the heater off the inverter. Why the hell didn't you listen to me or any of the other people that told you not to do that?

It's some pretty basic shit, man. You can't draw 750 or 1500 watts through a 20 Amp 12V circuit. Go check your fuses now, change them, and don't try that again. You're lucky you didn't start a fire, that's a pretty massive overdraw.

If the fuses are fine, start checking the wiring. Start at the lighter socket and work your way back. Might need to run a new one from the battery.

Shaftatplanetquake
01-07-2010, 06:51 AM
Looks like I got your diagnosis AND warned you correctly about the heater off the inverter. Why the hell didn't you listen to me or any of the other people that told you not to do that?

It's some pretty basic shit, man. You can't draw 750 or 1500 watts through a 20 Amp 12V circuit. Go check your fuses now, change them, and don't try that again. You're lucky you didn't start a fire, that's a pretty massive overdraw.

If the fuses are fine, start checking the wiring. Start at the lighter socket and work your way back. Might need to run a new one from the battery.

I did in fact listen to you and everyone else's advice. When I was listening I was unable to locate my time machine and NOT hook up the inverter/space heater.

This thread, like every other thread on AT, doesn't include all the information in the world and the full backstory. I'm sure there are still things that you don't know about my setup and things I've done and in what order I've done them. In the future I'd recomend that you're careful with your assumptions, and what you do with them, they are very liable to make people not like you.

The inverter I hooked up was bought in 2004 for $20-$30 and it has never been used. I don't even know if it works at all, but I figured I'd try it before I even thought about making an AT thread.

I assumed it didn't work, and gave up on making THAT inverter work. I figured a $20-$30 unit was not going to do it. I also did not know I had caused a problem with the cig lighter port until the following day (yesterday). I didn't know if any other unit would do it, and now I know that my car (and practically every other car on the road) can't handle this type of a task no matter what inverter you have because the wiring just won't do it.

Thanks for purposely being a condescending jerk.

The-Noid
01-07-2010, 10:25 AM
I have to agree with sjwaste you would have to be a complete idiot to hook a space heater up to a cig lighter.

sjwaste
01-07-2010, 09:18 PM
Well, I didn't know that you attempted it before posting. In that case, I do apologize for being an ass. We all have to learn somewhere, and I came very close to burning the house down as a kid many, many times. Considering that most people post here to get confirmation that they are allowed to take a shit, I hope you can understand why I made that assumption.

Two things:

1 - You probably want to fix the cig outlet. Easiest thing to do is check the fuse and trace back the wiring. Even if the fuse looks ok, change it and try the socket again. Might get lucky. If not, you'll have to trace the wiring back.

2 - You have to figure out why you're losing coolant. A car's cooling system is a closed loop. Fill it up and look for drips under the car after it sits over night. That'll at least give you a hint. If you see nothing, start the car, let it get up to operating temp, sit for 15 mins, and then rev it a bit. Look for the leak using the driveway as an indicator. Change the appropriate hose.

If you don't find anything this way, take it to a decent mechanic and have them look. FWIW, the last time I was losing coolant, I was burning it. Head gasket failure sucks, but I have an engine prone to it and possibly one of the longest stock streaks (203k miles) on the original. I was due.

IcePickFreak
01-08-2010, 03:31 PM
Check for an air bleeder around your thermostat housing. Could be your system is air locked.

Check this, the cooling system on this should be a closed-loop. There should be a bleeder by the neck on the top of the motor (ie. the highest point in the cooling system). Crack it open and start the car, let it warm up and don't close it until there's straight water/anti-freeze coming out out of the bleeder.

hanoverphist
01-08-2010, 03:51 PM
Just throw a burning 50 gal drum in the backseat, itll be fine

i was talking to an old lady that used to work for me about broken heaters a long time ago. she told me her first date with her husband was to the drive in in his car, a beat up 1940something buick with no heater. he filled a 55 gal drum about half way with water, put it on a fire and got it to boil. capped it off and put it in his back seat. i was amazed it worked, didnt start a fire, didnt kill the suspension and a few other things.

hanoverphist
01-08-2010, 03:58 PM
2 - You have to figure out why you're losing coolant. A car's cooling system is a closed loop. Fill it up and look for drips under the car after it sits over night. That'll at least give you a hint. If you see nothing, start the car, let it get up to operating temp, sit for 15 mins, and then rev it a bit. Look for the leak using the driveway as an indicator. Change the appropriate hose.


best way to find a small leak is to pop the hood and look at the radiator right after a good drive. usually the pressure is up and there will be signs of a leak or an actual drip that may not be significant enough to reach the ground. how do i know this? my radiator has about 12oz of jb weld along one side from the crappy plastic sides not sealing well. i get a puddle every time i stop now, but when it started it never left any water on the ground. didnt notice it was even leaking until i popped the hood to check oil and saw a dark area on the radiator.

it is hot if you do this, so be careful when looking for a leak on the hoses/ engine too.

Rubycon
01-08-2010, 06:07 PM
best way to find a small leak is to pop the hood and look at the radiator right after a good drive. usually the pressure is up and there will be signs of a leak or an actual drip that may not be significant enough to reach the ground. how do i know this? my radiator has about 12oz of jb weld along one side from the crappy plastic sides not sealing well. i get a puddle every time i stop now, but when it started it never left any water on the ground. didnt notice it was even leaking until i popped the hood to check oil and saw a dark area on the radiator.

it is hot if you do this, so be careful when looking for a leak on the hoses/ engine too.

They also make dye you add to the coolant. All it takes is a teaspoon for a few liters of coolant. This will make it glow brilliantly under UV inspection lamp. (blacklight) If there is even a minuscule leak around a gasket, etc. you will see it instantly.

angminas
01-09-2010, 05:16 AM
I'm not reading all three pages about a car heater, so somebody may have already said this.

There are rear window defrosters that plug into your cigarette lighter. Heating element, fan, and plastic casing...basically just a lower wattage space heater. I've never used one, but if you put one under your seat so it would blow into your footwell and secured it so it wouldn't fly under the brake pedal in a hard stop, I wouldn't be surprised if it made your journey tolerable. Passenger footwell, if it won't fit under your seat. No promises.

Shaftatplanetquake
01-09-2010, 09:04 AM
The problem is the housing/harness that plugs the ground/12v into the back of the cigarette lighter barrel. Or its the back of the cigarette lighter barrel. I can hard wire the connections where they need to be with a small length of wire and some electric tape. I'm planning on doing that some time today.

If I fiddle with where they connect at the back of the lighter/ash tray (really low to the floor and hard to get my hand there, let alone get my face behind so I can see) the connection is made, but not solid, when I release my hand it goes back to not having a connection. I think I'll look for a mirror so I can see wtf I'm doig whe I rewire.

Beyond this, I realized yesterday that I never had hooked a space heater up. I hooked up the inverter and plugged a pair of hair cutting trimmers in to test the thing. I figured it was a lighter load than the space heater. I had planned to plug the space heater in next, if the trimmers powered on. Which they didn't.

When I posted that I had hoooked up the space heater I was working off of 4-5 hours of sleep. With more than 4 hours of driving. My mind was not working correctly. I actually believed that I had hooked up the space heater. Oh well, no matter. Thanks for appologizing and then providing me with good advice on the cooling leak / head gasket problem, sjwaste. the car has about 150,000 miles on it and I'm not going to be surprised guys if I find that its the head gasket.

I think I'll do what Rubycon recomended and get the dye and the uv lamp, assuming its fairly cheap, that sounds like a very reliable and easy way to do this.

sjwaste
01-09-2010, 11:18 AM
You can just replace the cig lighter socket. I had a similar problem in a 91 Merc Cougar, and that was the easiest way to fix it.

As far as the coolant leak, try the visual route first. It may be very obvious -- one of the end tanks on the radiator cracking, a large hose, etc. If not, the dye/UV method is good, but it may just be cheaper to have a mechanic bill you an hour to use his tools to do it.

I'm starting to wonder, since you never hooked up the space heater, if the culprit isn't mechanical damage to the cig lighter socket. Maybe the inverter's plug screwed something up. I'd say replace it and go from there. It's a cheap, easy job on most cars.

sjwaste
01-09-2010, 11:20 AM
best way to find a small leak is to pop the hood and look at the radiator right after a good drive. usually the pressure is up and there will be signs of a leak or an actual drip that may not be significant enough to reach the ground. how do i know this? my radiator has about 12oz of jb weld along one side from the crappy plastic sides not sealing well. i get a puddle every time i stop now, but when it started it never left any water on the ground. didnt notice it was even leaking until i popped the hood to check oil and saw a dark area on the radiator.

it is hot if you do this, so be careful when looking for a leak on the hoses/ engine too.

Mine was the same. I went through two radiators over the span of about 80k miles, but I suspect the reason both failed was a slow head gasket leak that was raising the pressure in my cooling system. Of course, I've had the car for over 10 years now. Shit, in March, it'll be 12 years.

I suppose that $6500 back in '99 for a 100k mile Supra was one of the better purchases I've made given that I got another 100k before the HG failed. I don't drive to work anymore, so the car's basically a driveway ornament.

SooperDave
01-09-2010, 09:41 PM
I've used an inverter to run a space heater and I can guarantee that you don't have the wattage from your inverter nor the amperage from your charging system to do it. My set up at the time was a 3kw continuous with 6kw surge Coleman inverter powered by 2 Group 8D (approx. size of 6 standard auto batts.) equipment batts. being charged by a 130amp alternator on a Cat 3116 engine. 4 gauge cables 3' long got the power from the batts to the inverter. End result; After about ten minutes the huge amperage draw would pull the vehicles voltage down enough that the inverters protection would kick in and shut everything down. Same result trying to make a pot of coffee. And if I shut the truck down without letting it run after that I'd have to jumpstart the truck later. And those were not old batts. either.