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Clogged heater core?

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Old 10-25-2011, 07:25 PM
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Default Clogged heater core?

(in lieu of starting a new thread)

I start reading about what people are encountering. We all know about the common issues: plenum, O2 sensor, clogged cat, various other sensors, and heater core.

Well the last one just hit me...sort of and maybe garner some lols since this involves a Stealership.

Driving to work this am, decided to use the heater and typically I get some good warmth the last 5 mins of the drive. Well, it ran cold the entire time. I was like...hmmmm, that's different. Additionally, the temp gauge seemed to be reading lower than nominal, i.e., around 180* by my eye. I get on here to take a look at similar symptoms and I don't find any. Not the typical, leak on the passenger side or what have you.

So, I had to take in for oil/filter change anyways b/c I bought a package deal on those. Asked them to take a look at what the deal was with the heater.

Stealership results:

1. Assume a wrong thermostat (i.e., lower rating). I debunked this immediately b/c the tstat was replaced 4 years ago for dead water pump.

Cost P+L = $229 + diagnostic fee

2. Heater Core Plugged/restricted

Cost P+L = $1300, gave me the heads up about my broken dash too. lol

3. Front timing cover shows coolant leakage. (Yes I knew that) Idea being low coolant. So I asked well was the coolant level checked...to see if any was indeed needed? Answer: Coolant level was fine, therefore this is ruled out as a plausible source.


Tech rattled off notes from the mechanic ---

1. Took awhile to get heat to come out. On the order of 20 minutes.
2. 180* read @2500 rpm
3. 130* temp read at heater output (low end), target is 150-155*
4. No codes were thrown


So there is my latest viral experience related to the heater. Any comments/feedback is appreciated.

One thing I failed to ask on the phone was what kind of checking of the vacuum lines, check valves was done. (Edit: blend door and others all checked out w/o problems)

Thanks in advance for your time to edumacate me.
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Last edited by Wh1t3NuKle; 10-25-2011 at 07:46 PM..
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Old 10-25-2011, 08:53 PM
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Wh1t3Nukle, as an ex Nissan 'Stealership' tech, You may have paid 1300 but the tech who was paid to check out your vehicle was probably only paid $16/ flat rate hour. Which relates to 'I dont give a F*** in the tech's eyes bc we were so underpaid to do all the work when the service dept. keeps every dealer alive. And the service writer you speak of rattling off tech notes, they are typically never mechanically inclined enough to answer any question not given directly by a tech.

On a lighter note, if you have a coolant leak of any sort, there could be an air pocket in your cooling system which could also result in your no heat problem (as my timing cover leaked too and that fixed my heat problem when i bled my cooling system).
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:37 PM
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Start by checking the stat. Could be stuck open...especially if it's 4 years old.
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Old 10-26-2011, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Terribly View Post
Wh1t3Nukle, as an ex Nissan 'Stealership' tech, You may have paid 1300 but the tech who was paid to check out your vehicle was probably only paid $16/ flat rate hour. Which relates to 'I dont give a F*** in the tech's eyes bc we were so underpaid to do all the work when the service dept. keeps every dealer alive. And the service writer you speak of rattling off tech notes, they are typically never mechanically inclined enough to answer any question not given directly by a tech.
2 lessons learned here: 1) don't post when your angry, 2) don't post when you're angry

I get where you are coming from and am appreciative of the insight. I'm fairly certain you are correct with respect to the mechanic, the actual grunt here. I want to make clear that I'm referring to the Tech or the Salesperson that is tasked with diluting the Mechanic's expertise and details in such a way to get a job scored. I'm in no way knocking the mechanic, since I had to "pull teeth" with specific questions to get legitimate answers. Legitimate meaning -- rational and logical. He admitted to have to go read more notes. I think its quite obvious that the timing chain coolant leak (which actually is dry, just residue and no leaking for > 1 year) option was total bogus. Its bogus b/c of the idea it being a source of lost coolant whereby checking fluid levels will indicate if that is true or not. Just saying...I do know my truck as I'm sure you know yours. I'm just more pissed about being taken for a ride, mostly b/c this is not the first time with them. I've really tried to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Since my post I went and picked up the truck and other events transpired that further confirmed the lack of customer service. As a result, I paid the $130 diagnostic fee (1 hr) and told the lady cashier (b/c they send you there rather than back to the tech) to inform said Tech, "This is the last time I'm coming here."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Terribly View Post
On a lighter note, if you have a coolant leak of any sort, there could be an air pocket in your cooling system which could also result in your no heat problem (as my timing cover leaked too and that fixed my heat problem when i bled my cooling system).
Ditto. I realize I still have not been able to rule out an air pocket. So a burping would be in order, is that correct?

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Originally Posted by J415 View Post
Start by checking the stat. Could be stuck open...especially if it's 4 years old.
This was a plausible situation indeed. I have not pulled my Haynes yet, but the effort to swap the Tstat is yanking the alternator, a/c compressor, and bypass hose, is that about right? Standard tools and couple hours? Replace tstat, tstat gasket, and coolant is what comes to mind.

I'll try to find a thread here that already covers this.

I spoke with another shop via phone and described a little. It was suggested to just flush the heater core ~$95. Is this reasonable?

(Family and I are going out of town for the weekend. About 4-5 hr drive each way so I want to be able to see if I can tackle this or just have shop do it, all in the end of piece of mind mostly for the famn damily. Tips appreciated.)

Thanks for chiming in.
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Old 10-26-2011, 12:48 AM
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http://dodgeforum.com/forum/2nd-gen-...t-install.html $95 is very reasonable for a flush and fill. Last time I had a shop do that for me, it was $110, and I provided the coolant.
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Old 10-26-2011, 02:02 AM
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It is very simple to do with minimal coolant loss I just did it to my friends truck a couple days ago he had same thing no heat we flushed it and he now has roasting heat. Undo both heater core hoses one hooks to water pump the other should have a splice in it tuck up the end not attached to heater core so you don't lose coolant and basically take your garden hose and flush it out alternating back and for between each heater core hose its really that simple hook it back up and you're good to go when all done crack open a beer and bask in the glory of saving yourself $95
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Old 10-26-2011, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by J415 View Post
http://dodgeforum.com/forum/2nd-gen-...t-install.html $95 is very reasonable for a flush and fill. Last time I had a shop do that for me, it was $110, and I provided the coolant.

Thanks for legwork on that. I found some vids too where it didn't look to be that much of an effort. Probably a good hour for my set of skills.

Got a quote for $225: replace tstat, backflush heater core, and full coolant flush (with 6 gallons of coolant).

Tstat being the most critical to eliminate problem and coolant system has not been touched in that 4 years. I'm confident that this will improve the heater, however, I'm mindful that a heater core replacement is on the horizon only if the other more serious symptoms occur (leaking, fogging).


Quote:
Originally Posted by jpsycoboy5 View Post
It is very simple to do with minimal coolant loss I just did it to my friends truck a couple days ago he had same thing no heat we flushed it and he now has roasting heat. Undo both heater core hoses one hooks to water pump the other should have a splice in it tuck up the end not attached to heater core so you don't lose coolant and basically take your garden hose and flush it out alternating back and for between each heater core hose its really that simple hook it back up and you're good to go when all done crack open a beer and bask in the glory of saving yourself $95

Yes, I saw some vids of unclogging. Definitely something that I could tackle. Thanks for offering up the breakdown of your recent experience. If I wasn't traveling this weekend, I'd certainly take it on.


To the OP -- I realize now that my topic is more about heater core clogging rather than replacing. Sorry for thread jacking and I'll request HeyYou or another mod to split to this a separate thread. There is a BIG difference in cost/time for clog vs. replace of a heater core. Effin stealership!!
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:02 PM
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Seems a shame to pay them $130 just to have them tell you what you already know; your engine is running cool, your heat sucks, and there's a small coolant leak near your front cover. Oh well.

Sure does sound like it's just the t'stat stuck open. I hope you do it yourself and save a big chunk of the $225.

Also: " ..... and full coolant flush (with 6 gallons of coolant)". Just wanted to verify that that's 6 gallons of 50/50 = 3 gallons of pure anti-freeze.
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:34 PM
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Looking for some diagnosis help here.

Got the Tstat changed, the backflush of HC done, and the full coolant flush done.

No change in the heater output temperature... 130F.

The old tstat was working fine. New one is in place now though.

They want to do some more poking. Any suggestions from you smarter people here? I've already suggested to test b/t heat and A/C to ensure blend door is all good and temp controls, etc.


@John -- it's with the proper mix of additive as well. I forgot the exact breakdown, but I wasn't too concerned. I just don't have the time to tackle it before leaving this weekend with confidence. Most of it is low b/c I don't have all the proper tools and misc things to tackle the job to remain timely. Thus, this shop has been very responsive and the price has beat the dealership and another shop I contacted.
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Old 10-26-2011, 08:03 PM
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Totally understand your having someone esle do it. I have a lift, and mechanical work still pretty much sucks.

You had said before that the engine temp seemed low; has it gone back up to normal? I'm thinking that a stuck-open thermostat is the only thing that can cause an engine to run cooler than the t-stat rating. Are you sure it was running cooler, or did it just seem that way because you weren't getting much heat?

It seems odd that it would come on slowly, but it seems that you might just have a clogged heater core that didn't respond to flushing. And maybe, just maybe, a trapped air bubble inside the system. Have you tried "burping" it by parking on an incline for a while, with the nose higher than the rear?

***

And try this: connect the in and out hoses of the heater core together (take the heater core out of the loop). If the hoses get a lot hotter, you have a plugged heater core. This is the way my heater hoses are routed right now in my Jetta, because replacing heater cores sucks so bad.
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