I have 5 vehicles and not one working heater in any of them. My truck
has an easy to get to core so that's not a problem and one of the 5 is
a VW Thing so that doesn't really count but the other 3 would require
completely dismantling the car to get to. How would one repair a leak
without having to completely remove the dash and replacing the core? I
don't want to run leak repair stuff through the cooling system as all
are new but it's dropped to a bone chilling 65 degs here in Southern
Cal and I need some heat. I'm thinking of hooking up a recirculating
system using a pump of some sort to flow water with leak stop through
just the core to get them to seal then hooking the heater hoses back
You guys are creative as hell, what else could I do?
Quite frankly, short of pulling the dash so you can pull the heater
core, you're doing nothing but delaying the inevitable. Dunno what your
"other three" are, but for me, pulling the dashboard is pretty painless
- I think there's a total of 5 bolts holding it down. After those are
pulled, it's a bit of a wrestling match to try to pull the various
connectors so it can be actually removed from the vehicle, rather than
just unbolted, but not a big deal. I've done a dashboard R&R on this in
Obviously, depending on exactly what "the other three" are, milage is
going to vary.
Do yourself a favor: Do it right, do it once, and be done with it. Your
idea of stop-leak through an "auxilliary" pump isn't likely to work,
since pretty much all of them rely on *HOT* coolant to... For lack of a
better word, "activate"... them. Done cold, they're not much more
effective than tapwater.
a) Wear a sweater and ditch the sandals.
b) Fix the truck. Drive that when it gets below 70.
c) Fix the Thing. Drive that when it gets below 80.
d) Look at the books for the other three vehicles and figure out where to
make a cut to get access to the heater core without removing the entire
dash. Get creative.
e) Heated seat covers. These double as brakes in the Thing.
Joseph M. Krzeszewski Mechanical Engineering and stuff
firstname.lastname@example.org Jack of All Trades, Master of None... Yet
Mine was an Escort, and it was a Big Nasty Deal. Some of those rigs are
positively evil for accesing the heater core. It took me all day, and I'm
pretty handy. Nevertheless, you're right; it will have to be done. There
is no fixy-leaky stuff I've ever heard of that was worth buying.
But hey, 65 degrees? Up here in Oregon, that's about when we pull the
hardtops off our Miatas
JohnF wrote in
Get out the tools, the band-aids, the bit to chomp when kids are around
so you don't curse, and get to work. There is *nothing* that will fix
that for any amount of time, short of replacement.
65°???....and yer cold?....hehehe...It's down in the 40's today...and i
just lit the pilot on the heater tonight. (wife cold...not me). T-shirt
weather down to the mid-40's around here.
Don Bruder wrote in news:9Yakd.4355$_3.52717
Glad the one you did was painless...90% are not. Most require you
disassemble the car before you can get to it (Seriously) The heater
stuff is one of the first things in when they build them...so it's going
to be one of the last things you get to in the disassembly process.
A few...have access panels..or bolts you can get to...most i've found
I used to hang with a guy who bought cars at auctions and fixed them up
on the cheap. He was an excellent baling-wire jury-rig artist. He said to
cut a neat hole in the firewall around the heater core and pull the entire
assembly out into the engine compartment, from where it's easy to remove
the heater core and replace it. Then push it back into the heater box and
somehow repair your firewall. I think he punched holes and riveted strips
of sheet metal over the cut, can't remember. He said he could fix one in
a couple of hours. I once took a whole weekend and patiently removed the
seats, steering wheel/column, entire dashboard and heater box of a T-bird,
just to replace a $29 heater core. The shop book says 10 hours labor, and
I totally believed them at the end of that long long weekend.
Here in California, its a shudderingly cold 65f. Wife wants me to turn up
the heater. I show her how the thermometer indicates 70f inside, and noted
that this was not far below where she was complaining about the heat a
few short months back. Her answer ? Obviously the thermometer lies....
Heater cores are engineering cluster$^$&s. The wretched auto engineers who
design them should burn in hell. They are flimsily made and often fail,
leaking that sweet smell of antifreeze inside the car. Of course if it were
easy to maintain your car, you wouldn't need to buy a new one every few
years, see how that works....
You could bypass the heater core, or cap it off inside the engine
compartment. Then buy a 12 volt electric heater from JC Whitney and heat the
car with that. The electric heater supplys heat instantly, not engine warmup
needed. nice feature on those zero F degree mornings.
Well, here's something that I did to two cars, but it could result in a
really wet mess inside your car if you're inclined toward bad luck.
My '87 Mazda went first, about six years ago. No heat at all -- absolutely
nada. I tried all the flushing fluids, 'did a standard backflush on the
cooling system, etc. No go. Getting the core out required, I think, removing
both doors and the floor pan. So I went for broke and blew it out with
water pressure. It worked like a charm.
Two years later, my '89 Caravan went the same way. Thinking that I wouldn't
get lucky twice, I hesitated to do the same trick, but I did, and it worked
So, the method has a short and successful track record, and I haven't (yet)
blown a leak in a heater core. Here's what I did:
I figured I should replace the heater hoses anyway, so I bought 6 or 8 feet
of heater hose. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a replacement female
end for a *garden* hose, some stainless hose clamps, and one of those cheap
plastic ball valves you put on the end of your garden hose so you won't have
to walk back to the faucet to shut it off.
I cut the heater hoses to the proper length and (after cutting the old hose
off with a pocket knife, cleaning up the *very* thin brass tube ends with
some Scotch-brite and smearing on a little Vaseline) clamped them on at the
heater end. In the other end of one, I clamped the replacement garden-hose
end (make sure it will fit; I took my piece of heater hose into HD to make
sure). The unfastened end of the other was allowed to hang down so I didn't
coat my engine with rust.
Then I screwed in the ball valve to the new female end, and the garden hose
into that. I shut off the ball valve and opened up the main valve to the
garden hose. I then opened the heater adjustment in the car to full heat,
and then started flipping the ball-valve on and off quickly, to get some
Man, the rust and crud came out of the other hose like you wouldn't believe.
After a minute or two of that treatment the water was running clear. Just in
case, I reversed the water direction, taking the female fitting off of one
hose and putting it on the other. A bit more rust came out, but not much.
So I hooked up the heater hoses, re-filled the cooling system, and drove off
with a functioning heater. It worked as good as new.
When I did the same trick on the Caravan, not much rust came out. The water
was still translucent when I looked at it in the light. (I do this procedure
at night, usually with snow falling, and with the temperature hovering
around10 deg. F. ) However, when I buttoned everything up, the difference
was huge. The car barely had any heat before the treatment. It was like new
As I say, I worry what would happen if the core was really rotted. But it's
also true that, unless you put your thumb over the exhaust end of the hose
or something, the system probably never sees the full water-main pressure.
If you try it, I hope your luck is as good as mine. If you wind up with
water inside the car, don't say I didn't warn you about the possibility.
As much I as I hate doing heater core repair, there is only one way, tear
half the car/truck apart and replace the core.
I had a '79 Ford pickup that ate heater cores for some reason. I had the
truck for 13 years and replaced the core three times. I sold the truck to my
neighbor, and guess what?! He had to replace the heater core! It was not too
bad to do. Remove the hoses. Four screws on the firewall. one bolt that held
the bottem of the dash. (so you could pull the dash out a bit for clearance)
Then the whole heater assembly would come out. Same operation to put a
blower motor is, 2-3 of them in the same time frame, but at differant times!
I had a friend come over with an '83(?) Mercury Capri with a leaking core.
Remove the two hoses. Remove the glovebox liner. Remove six screws to take
off a cover, and the core slid out! The whole job, start to finish, was less
than 1/2 hour! I told him it probably would be an all day job!
One option, if you're hesitant to remove the dash, is to cut the 2
hoses feeding the core, connect longer lines to them, route them into
your car and hook up a heater core (that you would have to buy anyway)
to the hoses. A 12 Volt blower/fan of sorts would be needed for
circulation and efficiency.
A type of valve or tap could be used near the heater core to control
the flow of coolant. I've seen similar units sold as Aux. heater
units, complete with blowers.
Through the years I've probably done 20 or 30 heater cores... with out a
doubt, most are a HORRIBLE, ornery, awkward chores. I'd rather do most
I strongly suggest leak checking new cores before installing. Just
pressurize with compressed air (no more than 10 or 12 PSI!!!), submerge
and carefully look for bubbles. Radiator shops will often check them for
a couple of bucks, sometimes even for free.
Take it from a guy who learned the hard way even brand new, brand name
cores occasionally leak. (Really learned it a couple of times, but don't
Flushing doesn't do much if the thing leaks, and I gather from the
inquiry about sealants that it leaks, rather than failing to flow.
1987 chevy truck this is a pretty straightforward job, pull out
glovebox, undo three bolts, unscrew another, undo the hoses, pull off
the heaterbox, you're there. Chiltons wanted some other stuff that was
not in the way fiddled with, god knows why.
As for sealants, I've had some success with the flaky-solder-powder type
sealant, but that was for fixing the minor leaks in a radiator that had
frozen after I'd fixed the major leaks with solder, not a heater core.
Of course, a heater core is really just a tiny radiator, so it might be
worth a try - solder-seal, or something like that. Dry powder, not
liquid. If you're going to fuss about the rest of your cooling system
never seeing it you'll need to do a lot of work to devise a means to
heat up the fluid you pump through the heater core, and after all that
it might not work anyway - general old-age corrosion is a tougher thing
to fix than a freezeup, since any holes you plug are in metal that's
already corroded around the hole, so a new hole will develop shortly.
Note - this is a good reason to actually flush your cooling system and
replace the coolant with fresh coolant on a more regular basis, to
prevent the corrosion that causes the heater (and radiator) to corrode
On Wed, 10 Nov 2004 00:00:34 GMT, Scott Moore
HF has a $6 air hammer (when it's on sale) which could be modified
with a sheet-metal cutting chisel. Cut a hole, R&R the core, rivet
it back on with a ribbon of steel and pop rivets, spray undercoating
over them to seal and hide the gash you made. Since you live in the
paradise called LoCal, you won't have A/C to hamper that procedure.
Otherwise, you'd be SOL, Bubba.
When I was a mechanic, we used to suggest "R&R Radiator Cap, Replace
Vehicle." for that repair.
Note: DO NOT TRY TO REPAIR THE CORE. They get eaten by the coolant
and you'll never fix all the thin spots. Replacement is the only
decent way to handle a leaky core. I feel that way about radiators,
too. They protect a very valuable engine, so half measures put that
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On Wed, 10 Nov 2004 02:17:40 GMT, "Tony"
That's spelled "Directed Engineering", Tony.
Excellent idea! I hadn't seen those before. They would also speed
defrosting of the windshield and warming the steering wheel or
your seat! Epoxy a rare earth magnet to the base and you'd have
a portable heater which could point in any direction in the vehicle
within the length of the cord. Excellent $22 investment (w/ s/h)
And in LoCal, it would be in the glove box 9 months out of the year.
(BTDT, am selling t-shirts)
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