Any ideas how to repair a heater core in the vehicle?

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
up.
You guys are creative as hell, what else could I do?
JohnF
Reply to
JohnF
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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 an afternoon.
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.
Reply to
Don Bruder
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.
-- Joe
-- Joseph M. Krzeszewski Mechanical Engineering and stuff snipped-for-privacy@wpi.edu Jack of All Trades, Master of None... Yet
Reply to
jski
(Snip)
Let the dealer repair them under warranty, would be my suggestion.
--Winston
Reply to
Winston
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
Cheers, Walt
Reply to
WJ
JohnF wrote in news: snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com:
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.
Reply to
Anthony
Don Bruder wrote in news:9Yakd.4355$_3.52717 @typhoon.sonic.net:
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 don't.
Reply to
Anthony
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 $29 heater core. The shop book says 10 hours labor, and I totally believed them at the end of that long long weekend.
GWE
Reply to
Grant Erwin
Here in California, its a shudderingly cold 65f. Wife wants me to turn up the heater. I show her how the thermometer indicates 70f inside, and noted that this was not far below where she was complaining about the heat a few short months back. Her answer ? Obviously the thermometer lies....
Reply to
Scott Moore
Second that for a Taurus. Seats and stearing column ended up in the garage before I was done.
Reply to
Jim Stewart
Heater cores are engineering cluster$^$&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.
Tony
Reply to
Tony
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 perfectly again.
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 impulse going.
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 afterwards.
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.
Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
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! Of course!
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! Greg
Reply to
Greg O
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.
Good Luck.
Reply to
Derek
After having done one of these in the past, I became convinced that all car assembly lines begin with a heater core and the antenna wire.
Shawn
Reply to
Shawn
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 anything else.
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 tell anyone...)
Erik
Reply to
Erik
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 and leak.
Reply to
Ecnerwal
On Wed, 10 Nov 2004 00:00:34 GMT, Scott Moore calmly ranted:
John: 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.
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THE chisel
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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 at risk.
------------------------------------------------------------- * * Humorous T-shirts Online * Norm's Got Strings * Wondrous Website Design * *
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Reply to
Larry Jaques
On Wed, 10 Nov 2004 02:17:40 GMT, "Tony" calmly ranted:
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)
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And in LoCal, it would be in the glove box 9 months out of the year. (BTDT, am selling t-shirts)
------------------------------------------------------------- * * Humorous T-shirts Online * Norm's Got Strings * Wondrous Website Design * *
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Reply to
Larry Jaques

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