Replacing a Heater Core.


If you are like anybody else, your heater core will probably start leaking at the worst possible time.  If your windows keep fogging up, or you smell coolant, or if your carpet is wet with antifreeze, then your heater core is probably leaking.

When my heater core went out, it gave little warning.  I could smell a very faint antifreeze smell, but though it was coming from under the hood, then one day it totally blew leaving this large puddle on the passanger side floor.



If you are serious about working on your own car, then I highly reccomend getting one of these.  This is a "Helms" manual, wich is what is used at the GM Dealerships.  This is far superior to any other manual that is produced, and is worth its weight in gold.  This is the personal one for my car.

You will need to remove the radio and console around the radio.  The Instrument panel trim will also need to be removed.  I left the A/C controls hooked up, and just pulled it through the console.


You will also need to remove the ducts that sit inside the console.  The yellow circles mark the two bolt locations.  The arrows are to let you know that although they can't be seen in the picture, this is the general area.  You will need to remove this to better access more bolts behind them.

This is the case that covers the heater core.  I have pictured it out of the car so that you can see the hidden bolt (circled in red).  This is at the very top of the case and is hard to access. I used about 18" of 1/4" drive extensions right below the Map Pocket to access this bolt.

Once you remove the case, this is what you will see.  The heater core is attached to a bracket.  The Core and Bracket will need to be removed as an assembly.  If you haven't done so already, you will need to remove the two heater hoses at the firewall from under the hood.  Once again, the circles show where the four screws are located and the three with arrows are apoximate since they can't be seen in the picture.

The reason I had you remove the ducts in the radio console was so that you could access this screw (circled in red) and bend back that piece of plastic as the core/bracket is removed and installed.  Be very careful.  Years of thermal cycling (heating up and cooling down) makes these pieces very brittle.

All that is left of removing the core is to actually remove the heater core.  Once removed, there are two retainers wich utilize a total of three screws (circled in red)  remove these screws and seperate the two.  Now you just have to re-attach the new core to the bracket and re-install.

While everything was apart, I found it a good time to fix some other items that needed fixing.  Here, I have Hot-Glued the vinyl/foam covering of the radio console back to the console.  Once the glue dried, it looked almost good as new.  Fixing items like this made installation much easier and the end result was a better looking interior.