Car Doctor Q&A: No Heat in a 2006 Chevrolet Malibu, Now What?

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It’s technically “spring” here in New England, but with regular temperatures never rising above 30 and feet of snow still on the ground, we’re still running the heat in the morning. What happens when it won’t work in a 2006 Chevrolet Malibu, though? AAA’s Car Doctor John Paul has a solution.

Q. My 2006 Chevrolet has a problem with no heat. I replaced the radiator and when the engine is idling there isn’t any heat. If I drive I get heat, but when the car sits for a while at idle the heat fades away. Everything seems to be okay, I have checked the thermostat and controls.  When I replaced the radiator I ran water through the heater core just to make sure it was clear and it was. I’m at the point of replacing the water pump, but other people tell me it’s a cylinder head-gasket.  Anything I should look at first before I get in over my head?


A. The common problem is that the cooling system gets air bound. This usually happens when you add coolant to the surge/overflow tank and during refilling. When the coolant tank becomes empty it introduces air into the cooling system. Filling the radiator through the upper radiator hose should solve the problem. This is a fairly common problem with the 2005-2008 Chevrolet with the 3.5 liter “High Value” V-6 engine.

John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.