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

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Shaftatplanetquake

Diamond Member
Aug 8, 2000
3,089
0
76
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

Lifer
Nov 21, 2001
20,312
2,013
136
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
 
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sjwaste

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
8,758
3
76
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

Diamond Member
Aug 8, 2000
3,089
0
76
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

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2005
3,117
0
76
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

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
8,758
3
76
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

Platinum Member
Jul 12, 2007
2,428
9
81
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

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2006
9,928
23
76
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

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2006
9,928
23
76
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

Madame President
Aug 10, 2005
17,768
485
126
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

Diamond Member
Dec 17, 2006
3,331
26
91
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

Diamond Member
Aug 8, 2000
3,089
0
76
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

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
8,758
3
76
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

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
8,758
3
76
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

Senior member
Nov 18, 2009
615
0
0
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.
 

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