Heater core fail

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by D.T., Jan 23, 2013.

  1. D.T.

    D.T. Difficult but useful

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    This shit always happens in the F'n coldest part of the winter. Ok, it's the only truck I have and no motorcycle option, since it's 9 degrees out. Need to get to work.

    Options:

    1. Get some radiator stop leak and put in radiator.
    2. Bypass heater core with a fitting and bundle up for a while.
    3. Drive to work and keep cleaning the fog off windshield and keep and eye on coolant.
    4. Buy a heater core and try to DIY (need to tear dash apart outside :huh)

    What say ye? What's the best stop leak to get? First world problems...


    I found a HC:

    http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/s...ore&year=1997&make=GMC&model=Jimmy&vi=1164732

    Damn, I bet it would cost $500 for a local to put in a $38 part.
    #1
  2. thomas.tc.young

    thomas.tc.young Been here awhile

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    windows down and top back will eliminate the fog problem :D
    #2
  3. BK

    BK Electron herder

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    Bypass it, untill you can get to it.

    Buy something like this koolatron 12V heater at Sears, Walmart, Autozone etc.

    [​IMG]

    Don't forget to unplug it.


    Regards,
    Former clapped out VW Beetle driver (the REAL beetle)
    #3
  4. D.T.

    D.T. Difficult but useful

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    Just got a quote from Midas. $750.00. :huh Had to have them throw in a coolant flush too.

    Yikes.

    That's a cool heater, I have an inverter in the vehicle too.
    #4
  5. Cogswell

    Cogswell Spudly Adventurer

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    The heater core is many times the one part the entire vehicle is built around.:deal

    What year and model truck ?



    Mike
    #5
  6. D.T.

    D.T. Difficult but useful

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    1997 GMC Jimmy 4.3L.
    #6
  7. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

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    DO NOT use stop leak, it will clog radiator passages and you do not want
    that to happen. Stop leak is a mistake, period. I've been working on vehicles
    for over 40 years and I have used stop leak and seen the results when other
    people use it. It is a bad idea to use it, period. Stop leak never really works
    and it screws up things in the cooing system which were in fine shape
    before the stop leak was dumped into the system. I am sure some people will
    disagree with me on this, and frankly they will be wrong.


    Do whatever it takes to either fix it yourself or pay to have it fixed. You need
    to have a windshield defroster which works, and whether you are willing to
    drive half blind with a fogged up windshield or not, the rest of the people with
    whom you share the road do not deserve to be endangered because you are
    driving a vehicle which has compromised visibility. It is a question of
    responsibility toward the rest of the folks on the road. You don't want
    someone in a car to take you out when you're riding your bike, right ? Well,
    the rest of the drivers don't want to share the road with someone who can't
    see well because the windows in their vehicle are fogged or iced up.
    There is also a good chance that if you are driving with a non-operational
    defroster and you are in an accident and the insurance investigator
    determines your vehicle was being operated in an unsafe condition that
    the insurance company will make an effort to refuse to indemnify you.
    That could ruin the rest of your life by saddling you with personal debt
    if you are found liable.



    Perhaps you can do a deal with an experienced mechanic to get some help
    with the job outside of the shop where he works so you don't pay the shop labor rate.
    If nothing else, you really need to find a work space which can be heated, because the
    job is too involved to do when it is below freezing. But it is best to pay someone who has
    been there and done that before, because you need it done right the first time and there
    is no substitute for experience on a job like this.


    Good luck.


    .
    #7
  8. D.T.

    D.T. Difficult but useful

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    :huh

    Jeez, that made too much sense. :lol3

    I'm not broke, but I'm not rich either. I was planning to get another vehicle this spring. I'm just a cheap bastard. I like the challenge of living off the land. Going to try the bypass and 12V heater dealie for today. I found one for $22 bucks.
    #8
  9. Murray75

    Murray75 Rookie

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    That's so true about those things crapping out in the middle of winter. I did this same repair on a 2000 S-10 so the vehicles are pretty much identical. My story goes like this: Heater core failed, I took the pickup in to the shop since I didn't want to spend the time fixing it and wasn't sure I could do the work properly, was quoted over $1,000 to fix :eek1, decided right then to do it myself and told the service guy no way I'm paying that, I'll buy the part and do it myself. His reply was "if you can replace this by yourself, you have a job here."

    Challenge accepted! I did fix it and promptly made the drive back to the shop and placed the junk heater core on the counter in front of the same guy and told him I didn't need the job.

    I did the work with nothing more than normal garage tools and a Haynes manual. Just take your time and pay attention to all the stuff you need to unhook. I won't lie - it's a process. I had to remove the entire dash from the vehicle. That is actually easier than you'd think but you have to unhook the steering column and lay that on the seat, then go about unplugging the air bag connectors (not sure if 97 even has air bags) as well as the multi pin connectors for all the dash electronics. There are 4 or 6 bolts at the top of the dash near the windshield. Remove those and then the dash pivots (PIVOT!!!!) forward so you can remove the remaining clips and plugs. Then remove the dash via the door of your choice. Have a friend handy to help lift that damn thing and move it. From there it's fairly easy to deal with the heater core. I do remember 1 bolt being inside of a plastic box inside the engine bay where the heater core pipes pass through the fire wall. There was an access hole to get to the bolt but the engineer who designed that must have had 2 year old toddler hands. I could NOT reach in there to deal with that bolt. Had to go bribe wife to stab her small hand down there and remove/replace the thing. 80% of the time involved was dealing with the dash, 20% was actually spent dealing with the failed part.

    It took me 2 solid days to complete the repair. Keep that in mind. I would say the little plug-in heater is a good idea until you know you have a chunk of time to spend working on the fix. There were no special tools needed that I can remember. The Haynes manual did a decent job of walking a person through the fix and had good pictures showing where the plugs and connectors are behind the dash. I had no prior experience with that sort of repair and came away with no broken bits or extra parts. I'd say you can fix it.
    #9
  10. Benesesso

    Benesesso Long timer

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    Good compromise. BTW, alternators are much easier to replace than heater cores. :1drink
    #10
  11. D.T.

    D.T. Difficult but useful

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    Got a heater core, 1/2" to 5/8" heater adaptor and a 12V heater for $67 bucks. Bypassed heater core and put heater in vehicle. Good for today. Oh, by the way NAPA sucks. I asked for an adaptor and he didn't have any left and he said those small heaters are junk. WTF, customer service fail. I just walked out and went to O'Reilys instead. Great guys.

    I can return the heater core if I decide to buy another vehicle. Going to call local guy and ask how much to put in my new core. Probably won't be under warranty, but who cares. That's where I'm at now.
    #11
  12. Wasser

    Wasser Spilt my beer

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    Heater core in a 1997 S/T model GM truck isn't that hard to replace. If I remember, warranty only paid about 4.2 hours.

    You will have to lower the steering column. Then, remove the IP, dash, radio & climate control head.. Its not as bad as it looks.

    If you have SIR (air bags) follow the proper steps to disconnect and then reconnect any wiring.

    You will need a set of Torx bit screw drivers. Have a clean space next to the vehicle so you can lay all the parts you have to remove and, take lots of pictures to help you remember how to reassemble it.

    P.S.

    Don't use stop leak. It will just make things worse in the future.
    #12
  13. TheOtherBart

    TheOtherBart Long timer

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    If push comes to shove and you get stuck in conditions where your windshield is icing up you can always drive with one hand and hold that 12V heater up to the inside of the windshield with the other. I drove 40 miles like that at 20 MPH through freezing rain on the interstate heading back to Indiana from Cleveland in my Chevy Cavalier with a bypassed heater core back in college. The heater would keep a dinner plate sized hole clear, enough that I only had to pull over and scrape a couple of times.
    #13
  14. hahmule

    hahmule Balding Gloriously

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    Shade tree mechanic here, done multiple HC replacements and they are pretty straight forward. Would advise getting a good manual though, as one can come across some weird fasteners especially the plastic kind. You tend to have more room working in a pick up so that's good. Would suggest double checking with a truck forum for advise from those who done this repair before to avoid any pitfalls. Count on it being a weekend project for an amateur, and you'll hopefully have time to spare without being stressed. I would also suggest that you prepare a "plan B" before you start in case things do not work out in the time available, life is like that. For less than $10 you can usually scrounge up enough to work a bypass to keep the truck running albeit without the heater until you can take another crack at it.

    Good luck bro!
    #14
  15. gsweave

    gsweave Yinz, blinkers are on, since 05

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    Drop in a raw egg and some pepper in the rad till shit warms up again:1drink
    #15
  16. D.T.

    D.T. Difficult but useful

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    Made it to work. FYI that little heater didn't do shit in 12 degree weather. :lol3 Going to be a cold ride home tonight!

    I was thinking of trying my 1500 W space heater from my inverter..:hmmmmm
    #16
  17. dennism

    dennism dennism

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    In a case like this, I'd get a package of the Bars Leaks tablets at any parts store. Dissolve them in about a quart of hot water, and then add the whole lot to the radiator fluid with the engine running, and right away take it for a 10 or 20 minute drive.

    It's not an elegant fix, for sure, but it will likely get you through until Spring, when you can do it the right way and flush the sealer out again.

    The important part is to thoroughly dissolve those tablets in hot water first, don't just drop them in the radiator like they tell you to. BTDT.
    #17
  18. concours

    concours WFO for 41 years

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    Don't let the Midas crew tackle it for $750. Bring it to the GM dealer, they do a lot of them know the pitfalls, will warranty the work if they fuck up something along the way. I bet it'll be less money too.
    #18
  19. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    Sometimes the dealer is a better deal. Probably a better bet. You might get lucky at Midas but they don't do as many as GMC does. They'll give you an estimate also.

    Don't try Stop Leak, please. Even the home made type. I've used it only on a car I was trying to kill anyway.
    #19
  20. BK

    BK Electron herder

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    The heater is to keep the fog off the window...
    #20