The first thing to check is the coolant level. If it's low, the first thing
that doesn't work is usually the heater, since that's usually the highest
thing in the coolant path.
If you find the vehicle is low on coolant, fill it with a 50-50 antifreeze
mixture and run it for a ways, then see if it's low again. If it is, top it
off, and then run some more. Drive it til it's hot, and then park it with a
spread-out cardboard box under the engine for a while. Back off the
cardboard and inspect it carefully for a green, sweet-smelling liquid. If
you find it, this is antifreeze (might also be reddish, depends on what
color your coolant is), and you have a leak. Usually, you can fix those
yourself, but that's another story.
I check fluid level, a little low.
With vehicle warmed to normal operating temp, at idle I have very little if
any heat coming out of the vents. If I speed up the idle or go out and
drive it I get heat. It seems to me I am having trouble forcing water
through the heater core.
I heard there may be a check valve in line that could cause this condition?
Or am I just simply looking at a plugged heater core?
All suggestions or ideas are welcome.
I wouldn't rule out a water pump, either.
I didn't see if you listed which engine you had, but my Windstar with the
same 3.8 that's used in Tauruses has had this happen. I filled up the
coolant (it took a couple of times) and all is now well.
One thing I've heard about the 3.8 is that they are notorious for head
gasket problems. If you have a leaking head gasket, you will be losing
antifreeze into the cylinders, which will a) make white smoke and b) cause
your antifreeze to dwindle and c) enrage you when you get the repair bill.
Just my $.02.
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