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2003 Toyota Camry, No heat

I recently moved from TX to MN and it’s getting cold enough to need heat in my car. Well I’ve turned it on and nothing but cold air comes out. I’ve check my coolant level and it was getting close to low, so i added more and i’ve checked the fuses and they look good. So any ideas on what it could be or how i can fix it?

Is air at least moving? The heat control lever, is that electronic or just a slider?

Air is moving, it’s not the blower/fan and it’s electric

Did you check the coolant level in the radiator, or just the overflow reservoir?

How low was the coolant? Are you still loosing coolant or just a one time minimal loss?

Any work on the cooling system in the last year (radiator, water pump etc)?

Have you checked the floors on the car? No watery stuff, no foul smell in the car, the windshield is clean inside?

Check the engine bay for coolant leak. In you particular car (if it is the 4 cylinder), check the back side of the cylinder head for coolant leak and also the engine oil condition.

If the answer to all of the above questions is no, then it is likely that the thermostat is stuck in the open position (where it is supposed to be stuck if it’s broken) and needs to be replaced. You will probably have to take it to a mechanic if you have not done it yourself before.

both radiator and reservoir level are back to full, the reservoir was down to half when i added more to it. No water stuff on the floor, or smell and windshield is clean. No repair work that i know of in the last year, I bought the car used in January of 2012. It did every now and then have like a water sound by the glove box and some clicking noises that have now stopped as well.

Water sounds usually mean air pockets in the system (heating/cooling), these usually go away on their own, sometimes need to be purged. The clicking sound is usually from a valve/vacuum operated door. I believe that is where your problem is.

Thanks galant. How do i fix this?

This doesn’t work w/every make & model, but air can often be purged from a cooling system by simply opening the radiator cap and idling the engine until the top radiator hose becomes hot to the touch. Turn the heat control valve to “full hot” first. When the engine coolant becomes hot enough, the thermostat opens, and water pours into the top of the radiator from the engine. The air in the cooling system is often purged during this process. Don’t overdo it, as the coolant can overflow the radiator, and/or the engine can overheat, if you let the engine idle too long with the radiator cap off.

Don’t walk away from the car during this process. This should take no longer than 10-15 minutes for the thermostat to turn on at idle. You need to keep an eye on the radiator to see if it is overflowing, and you need to keep an eye on the coolant temp guage on the dash. If you look carefully, once the thermostat turns on, you should be able to see water entering the radiator by looking in the hole normally covered by the radiator cap. You might need a flashlight for this. Watch the temp guage on the dash while you do this. If no water ever seems to be entering the radiator, or if the engine overheats, goes beyond 2/3 full scale on the dash temp guage, stop the engine. You probably have a faulty thermostat.

If the thermostat seems ok and the air seems to have been purged, you could have a faulty temp control valve, or one of the venting doors for the heating system isn’t working. Or it could be the heat exchange unit itself. Hope it isn’t that. Expensive.

One more thing: Don’t add cold coolant to a hot engine. This can crack the block or the head or the radiator. Wait for the engine to cool down first.


One thing that is easy to do, when the car is warmed up and there is no heat, even though the heater is “on”, open the hood and feel both of the heater hoses. The hoses that go through the firewall. One takes heated water from the engine. The other returns the water from the heater to the engine. One is probably hotter than the other, but both should feel warm – with the heater on. If one is hot and the other is cold, that means water isn’t making it through, and is a symptom of a plugged heater core. [This is also a symptom of a faulty heater control valve.]

If so, heater cores can sometimes be fixed by backflushing them. Don’t try this yourself unless you know how to do it. Your local mechanic probably has done this before.

Ok, so i just ran my engine for about 15 min, with the radiator cap off to bleed out the air from the coolant system. I had the heater on high and blowing. I also felt the the hoses and both were warm to the touch with one feeling hotter then the other, but there is no change in the heat (well lack there of) coming out in the car.

hmm … this is a toughie. Did you notice that when you first started the engine (when it was cold), that little to no water was entering the radiator from the top hose. Then after 10-15 minutes did you notice that the thermostat had opened, and water was clearly coming into the top of the radiator (from the top hose)?

Don’t recall if you mentioned it before, but does the dashboard temp guage show the engine is heating up to the normal “running” temperature? Usually that is around 1/2 way up the guage, maybe to 2/3 up. i.e. Is the coolant reaching normal operating temps when the car has warmed up?

If all the above seems ok, about the only thing remaining it seems to me is something wrong with the heater core itself, the temp control valve, or the blower somehow is being prevented from blowing air across the heater core element. That could be caused by a faulty vent door somewhere under the dashboard which causes the airflow to bypass the heater core, even when you have “hot” selected. Because the hoses to the heater core indicate heat is entering and leaving as expected, my guess is a problem w/ the temp control valve or a faulty vent door. I’m not familiar w/your make/model so I don’t even know if you have vent doors. But you almost certainly have a heat control valve. One thing you could do to test the heat control valvle idea is rig up an experiement somehow to see how much coolant was flowing through the heater core. More should go through when the heat control valve is set to “hot” than to “cold”. You have to be careful not to affect the engine cooling when you do this though. Otherwise you may have a fixed heater but a dead engine.

Do you want to fix this yourself? I’ts going to be difficult to do unless you have the heating system diagrams you’ll need to effect the diagnosis. You need the exact configuration of all the heating gadgets involved. Do you have the manufacturer’s shop manual for this car? A Chiltons is good for tune ups and routine maintenance, but probably isn’t enough for this problem. You need the shop manual to see all the heating/venting diagrams. If you don’t already have one, it might pay to buy one. Or visit your local library. They probably don’t have the shop manual, but they likely have the MOTOR manuals which mechanics use – which sort of summarize the shop manual. If your library has the computer database service “AllData”, that’s a good alternative to the shop manual. If they have it, that’s probably the first place to look.

In a pinch, most any good independent mechanic should be able to fix this for you.

Thanks George for the help. I’m probably going to take it in to a local mechanic to see what they say.