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Old 10-08-2012, 10:26 PM   #1
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Default Heater Core Replacement

So I'm positive my heater core is leaking - smoke out the vents, foggy windows, and the puddle of coolant on passenger side floor.
I'm considering replacing it myself and would like some opinions.
I read this write-up on dash removal and evidently you do not have to evacuate the AC. Could someone confirm that for me?
I've read that I might also want to replace the evaporator - but this will require evacuating the AC... does anyone have a good write-up on how to do this?
And for anyone that's done this before, can you provide any insight or 'heads-up' info? I know it's going to be a PITA, but I'm willing to put in the time to save the money. My XJ is 01.

Thanks,
John
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:00 PM   #2
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Take it to an auto repair shop that does A/C work and have them evacuate the system, be sure to record how much was in the system, and then have them recharge the system when you're done with the heater core. It will cost you some money, but it will be worth it.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfats100 View Post
So I'm positive my heater core is leaking - smoke out the vents, foggy windows, and the puddle of coolant on passenger side floor.
I'm considering replacing it myself and would like some opinions.
I read this write-up on dash removal and evidently you do not have to evacuate the AC. Could someone confirm that for me?
I've read that I might also want to replace the evaporator - but this will require evacuating the AC... does anyone have a good write-up on how to do this?
And for anyone that's done this before, can you provide any insight or 'heads-up' info? I know it's going to be a PITA, but I'm willing to put in the time to save the money. My XJ is 01.

Thanks,
John
where do you live, I had mine done by a guy local to me here, whole job for cheap on the labor side. like 3 hrs labor. he was done and out the door. very happy camper here and he did it without breaking anything under the dash, you know the stuff, those little plastic things.
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:39 AM   #4
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Thanks guys. I guess I'll get a shop to discharge the AC and then proceed with the rest myself.

I bought a $63 heater core from Advance Auto Parts. and seeing the the OEM core is like $500, I'm a little worried. Does anyone have good/bad experience with these cheap replacement cores??

Also, has anyone replaced their heater core without discharging the AC?

Last edited by jfats100; 10-09-2012 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:50 AM   #5
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Thanks guys. I guess I'll get a shop to discharge the AC and then proceed with the rest myself.

I bought a $63 heater core from Advance Auto Parts. and seeing the the OEM core is like $500, I'm a little worried. Does anyone have good/bad experience with these cheap replacement cores??

Also, has anyone replaced their heater core without discharging the AC?
jfats, where abouts do you live. I got a guy who did mine for around 300.00 labor and didnt break anything in the process. had it done in just under three hours. very good. also did my a/c repairs so I figured it was all a good deal for me. had to have it back for next day at work. washington state tacoma area for this guy, he will come to your house if you are local.
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:05 AM   #6
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jfats, where abouts do you live. I got a guy who did mine for around 300.00 labor and didnt break anything in the process. had it done in just under three hours. very good. also did my a/c repairs so I figured it was all a good deal for me. had to have it back for next day at work. washington state tacoma area for this guy, he will come to your house if you are local.
Wow squirrel, you found a rare breed there my friend. I live in Colorado....
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:40 AM   #7
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The AC system is seperat from the heating system. One uses refrigerant and the other uses coolant. I don't think you will have to touch the AC at all for a heater core change. I will know soon enough, because the description you have (fog, and coolant on floor) are the same as mine. I plan on tackling the job this week/weekend. Good Luck!
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:21 AM   #8
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The AC system is seperat from the heating system. One uses refrigerant and the other uses coolant. I don't think you will have to touch the AC at all for a heater core change. I will know soon enough, because the description you have (fog, and coolant on floor) are the same as mine. I plan on tackling the job this week/weekend. Good Luck!
To pull the HVAC box from the vehicle the A/C must be evacuated because the evaporator has to be disconnected at the firewall.
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Old 10-10-2012, 11:38 PM   #9
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To pull the HVAC box from the vehicle the A/C must be evacuated because the evaporator has to be disconnected at the firewall.
X2. Don't attempt this until the AC has has been evacuated. Also rent/buy the quick disconnect tools to separate the lines if you don't have them.
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:38 AM   #10
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X2. Don't attempt this until the AC has has been evacuated. Also rent/buy the quick disconnect tools to separate the lines if you don't have them.
Yep. I think I've accepted the fact that I have to get the AC evacuated.

Do you know what size the AC lines are in the '01? I plan to buy the quick disconnect tools. Thanks.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:37 PM   #11
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Just wanted to update this thread since I see many others asking about this.

I went ahead and ripped out the dash and replaced the heater core, ac evaporator, and blower motor.

For the people that said you don't have to get your AC discharged or you don't have to remove the entire dash... you must be magicians!

Even if you're only replacing the heater core, you have to discharge the AC in order to remove the heater box.

Take the time to do it right: Have a shop discharge the AC. Remove all the dash panels and pull the whole dash out of the way. Remove the heater box, and replace all the parts (no sense in doing this again). Be sure to wrap the heater core and ac evaporator with weather stripping to keep them from rattling. Take care in putting things back without pinching wires or leaving loose wires to rattle.

The 3 speed bumps I hit were: removing the nuts from the firewall that secure the heater box, re-assembling the heater box (the top did not want to line up correctly), and fitting the heater box back into position (getting those studs through the firewall was tricky).

This job took me 14 hours. I got quotes from 3 shops, the lowest was $1400. My cost was $625 - that includes ac discharge & recharge, and garage rental for a full day (since I live in an apartment complex).

If you're looking into doing this, feel free to pm me - I'd be glad to share what I learned.

Cheers!

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Old 10-17-2012, 07:59 PM   #12
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So u used the foam weatherstripping for between the box and the Heatercore?
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:01 PM   #13
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.......I went ahead and ripped out the dash and replaced the heater core, ac evaporator, and blower motor.......
U r miles ahead by replacing all 3 at once. Good job.....u da man.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:06 PM   #14
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So u used the foam weatherstripping for between the box and the Heatercore?
Indeed. 3/16" thick, 3/8" wide. double sided sticky. I put two strips (side by side) around the heater core before placing it back in the box.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:53 AM   #15
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Thanks, jfats100. I mentioned earlier that he/she didn't have to discharge AC. I was wrong! I've done a couple heater cores...just not on the cherokee. I thought I did, but nope, I haven't. My guess is that, when I finally get in there to do mine, I would've seen it needs to be discharged.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:53 AM
 
 
 
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