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I've seen two questions in two days with regard to blowing cold air. One has to do with when the car is at idle, the other has no conditions.

Heater blows cold at idle 2007 town / country

Heater only blowing cold air

Is it possible to come up with a canonical duplicate for questions like this? It seems reasonable to be able to put together a finite set of conditions and troubleshooting flowchart that incorporates most common causes.

I found one answer that was an exception to the standard set of possible causes in a quick search:

https://mechanics.stackexchange.com/a/5188/1743

Seems like the "my heater is cold" question comes up often enough -- especially this time of year -- that we could generate something. It might not make sense to mark questions as a dup, but it certainly would be nice to (at the very least) throw a CW link at them in a comment.

EDIT

I answered a question a while back regarding how the heater core works; it's a subset of the broader question as to why heat might not be present:

https://mechanics.stackexchange.com/a/8569/1743

EDIT 2

Paulster2 said:

Something else to think about with this, isn't this what the site itself is supposed to accomplish? If the answers are out there, we point them to them in the first place and close the new question as a dupe. If tags are done correctly, it's fairly easy to find answers if they are out there.

I think you've effective hit the meat of my question -- do we have an answer enough that has enough solid content that we can build on it? Is the OP okay with converting it into a CW?

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The problem with that answer is that it is a very specific fix to that particular vehicle. We can't expect to forward everyone that as answer.

Different problems need to be treated differently.

That said, it would be nice to have a comprehensive list of common causes.

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  • Yeah, I was trying to show come up with reasons why a CW would not be a good idea, and that was the one concession that I could find to my argument for creating a standard repository of knowledge: there will occasionally be that one outlying question that truly isn't a dup, like that question. – Lynn Crumbling Jan 11 '16 at 21:55
  • @LynnCrumbling I see what you're saying. You might want to use this question as a reference. Gets lots of views too :) – Zaid Jan 11 '16 at 21:57
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    @LynnCrumbling if you end up doing a Q&A, I suggest you put the diagnostics tag on it – Zaid Jan 11 '16 at 21:58
  • @LynnCrumbling - Something else to think about with this, isn't this what the site itself is supposed to accomplish? If the answers are out there, we point them to them in the first place and close the new question as a dupe. If tags are done correctly, it's fairly easy to find answers if they are out there. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 11 '16 at 22:35
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As Zaid eluded to.

I believe that while in principle this is a very good idea, it only really applies to a baseline of troubleshooting to generalize possible issues. It DOES NOT address the nuances of each possible issue.

Example

I recently dove into a 2005 Buick with a friend. One of the air handler doors in the AC was hung upon and rather than recirculate, the HVAC was getting fresh outside air. The door was obviously not closing or opening in the HVAC that performs the function.

I was confident because my son's 2004 Ford Ranger had the same issue and we knocked it out in 4 hours.

Needless to say we dug through 5 layers of dashboard components for 7 hours before we could see the door actuator with a flashlight through a crack in the components on the Buick....and we didn't even know if it was the right one. It was a disaster and completely different from the Ford Ranger, it was next level complicated and the system had 4 actuators if my memory serves me correctly. To add insult to injury we needed a factory manual from Buick because the Haynes manual for the car didn't identify the function of each actuator.

I'll reiterate, the difficulty is that each model needs research. Each model line is a snowflake with it's own nuances and individual characteristics. If you get into 'howto' regarding the repair it's infinity painful.

Would a solution for an Opel be the same as for the Ford Ranger? Doubtful.

Merit to the idea though

That being said, I DO believe that the idea to have a general diagnostic component can have and probably would have benefits.

If we drop the dupe hammer frequently and give the OP general troubleshooting assistance and stop there I believe the site loses value. There is a fine line to dropping the dupe hammer on these as well as quite a bit of other subject matter.

I could go on and provide examples of how some sites do this a little bit too frequently, say in ServerFault where a n00b is trying to install CentOS to his desktop running Parallels and can't get an IP address on a NIC. Dupe him and over.....BUT, there are so many possible issues to that particular problem and they don't all get addressed. What if he's installing to his desktop running VMware? or directly to his desktop with the plethora of potential driver issues for the wide variety of desktop hardware available? What if? What if?

I think we need to understand the line of how this might work and part of that is querying an OP, perhaps, to discover their intentions. General troubleshooting and off to the mechanic for resolution OR the OP wants to fix the issue themselves. That might be a way to separate the chaff from the wheat.

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