I own a 1998 Camry that I purchased in 2000. It is in great shape and well maintained. I have noticed this winter season that the heating was always low. Today, the heating quit working.

Is this a serious problem or is this merely a problem with the termostat?


What’s Miss Minnesota Doing Driving An 11 Year Old Car?
I thought they provided a new car for the Queen.

This is possibly a thermostat stuck open. I would imagine that in Minnesota, even a properly functioning thermostat has trouble providing enough heat on some mornings.

Anyhow, the first thing to do is to check or have somebody check the car’s coolant (used to be called anti-freeze) level. Often times poor heat is caused by, believe it or not, low coolant. This can cause you to get too cold and the engine to get too hot, actually overheating and causing damage.

The radiator needs to be checked to be sure it’s full. Do this with the car cool! Hot coolant can be under pressure and spray boiling liquid! Also, there should be a coolant reservoir (recovery tank) that is ia little translucent tank with “full” and “low” marks on it and should say something about coolant. Fill it up to “full cold”. Be sure the coolant mix is proper for your cold weather. The -37F stuff may be marginal for Minnesota. Don’t spill it on your hands if it’s been stored outdoors! It can cause instant frostbite!

Besides the thermostat, and low coolant you could have air trapped in the cooling system that would need to be “purged”. An air bubble usually rises to the thermostat housing and prevents coolant circulation. Another problem could be with the actually control that you use to adjust the heat or the valve that it operates.

I would check the coolant first. Should you have to add quite a bit then the cooling system may need purging if you still get no heat. Also, you will need to monitor the level by looking at the reservoir frequently to be sure that you aren’t losing coolant somewhere.

Check the coolant and please come back and tell us what happened or if you have additional questions.

My first check that does not require a mechanic is making sure the coolant level is at the proper mark in the coolant overflow.

Sometimes A Leaking Tube Between The Radiator And Overflow Makes This Check Useless

That is why I suggested checking the “radiator” and “reservoir”. A leaking tube can 1) leak coolant and 2) suck air, instead of coolant when the system cools, continually depleting the coolant supply in the radiator.

You see, with the economic crisis and budget crunch, the State of Minnesota cannot afford to buy me a new car, so I am stuck with the old one . . .

Anyway, thanks for all your thoughtful suggestions. The car has been packed all day and it should be cool enough to check the radiotor and reservoir before I run to the mechanics. Anything to save a buck in these exceptionally hard times.

Miss MN, You’re Welcome!

Thanks for the response. We sometimes never hear back from people.

We would appreciate any updates from you after checking it yourself and/or what the mechanics say, if possible. That’s how we stay on top of our game and fine-tune (no pun intended) our answers.

Good Luck!

No, thanks to you. I checked the coolant reservoir and radiator and they were all full. So I prayed it would something minor, not leaking tubes. Turns out it was the thermostat that was blown. My mechanic replaced it in under one hour and costed $50.00. Yeh!


You were right! Brains helped you win Miss MN, I’ll bet.

You must have an exceptional mechanic that you can run to at after 4:15 p.m. (3:15 Central ?) and get it fixed. That must be one of the benefits that go with the title.

Good Luck. We’ve got some really cold (even for MN) weather coming in, soon! Come to think of it, maybe that’s why your thermostat committed suicide.