Thursday, February 18, 2010

Testing the Heater

I realized today that I've never tested the heater. I tested all the various wires, relays and switches that are installed to provide power to it, but since it runs off the full pack voltage and I haven't had that until only recently, I couldn't test it. Well now I can.

I turned the car on, turned the fan switch to "4", which makes the heater switch live, and then flipped the switch. I was watching the Link 10 to see if I'd see an increase in the current being drawn and sure enough, it jumped a bit. Truthfully, the amp numbers on the meter don't make sense to me just yet, but I know a bigger number means more draw. Anyway, I put my hands over the vents that were pumping out cold air, and waited for the heat to arrive thinking "oh this is gonna be good."

I could smell some vague burning type odor, which made me a bit nervous. Kind of what you'd expect to smell the first time you turn on a heater, with any residual oils being burnt off. I waited for 20 seconds or so, no heat yet. Meanwhile the smell was increasing. Hmm, not good. Another 30 seconds or so and still cold, but now the smell seems to be subsiding. So that's good.

Another 1/2 minute goes by and I'm beginning to think that I'd made a mistake wiring this heater so that it only worked when the fan is on high. Clearly that much air moving through it is rendering it useless. By now the alarming smells have all but gone, so my initial fears of burning the car, and my house to the ground have subsided. I look down under the dash to where it's installed. No fires, no smoke, but I can feel heat near the pocket. It's at that point that I look at the center console and realize that the temperature control is all the way to cold. Take a look at yesterday's post and the picture of the center console. See it there? Set to cold? Yeah, me too.

Feeling a bit foolish, I casually reach up and nudge the dial to the hot side. Wouldn't you know it, tons of lovely warm air come streaming out of the vents. Apparently, if you allow air to flow over the heater, it's much more effective.

With the heater tested, and having successfully not burned up the car, I felt it was OK to go ahead and re-assemble the dashboard on the driver's side. I carefully put all the metal supports and plastic pieces back together being sure not to pinch any of the new wires under there.

I'm considering turning the fog lights into daytime running lights. Right now they only come on if the switch is on and the headlight switch is on in the "running lights" position or just on. The thing is, we don't have much need for fog lamps here in Arizona. In the 38 years I've been here, I've seen fog - oh let's see... twice. And it wasn't thick enough that one needed fog lamps. It was more of an atmospheric anomaly. People came out of their houses to point in wonder at the air which was something other than the usual clear and sunny. Old folks reminisced about the fog they'd seen one time back in the 30's, and children ran around trying to catch it. Then, in 20 minutes, it was gone. So I think that running lights may be a better use for the fog lights.

I figured I'd get a couple of super bright LED lights, and switch the wiring a bit so that they are just on when ever the car is. Those LED lights aren't bright enough that you'd want to rely on them to drive at night, but you can see them during the day quite nice. If I can make the car just a little safer, I think it would be worth it. Total cost should be less than $30.

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