Heater core blows – part 1

Heater core blows – part 1

After years and years of good luck, my car seems to want repairs now. I drove up to Mt. St. Helens for a hike, and as I got back into Portland, the heater core totally died.  I don’t know how many of you have ever blown/lost a heater core; but it’s a LOT of fun. You get mists of freshly evaporated engine coolant (aka anti-freeze – makes you go blind and die if consumed) blowing in your face.

What makes this particularly fun for me is that for some time my car has been overheating. I’ve changed all the easy stuff (radiator, thermostat, water pump) but to no avail – which means it’s probably the block or a head gasket ($1000+). So the only way to keep it from overheating is to run the heater. But with now I can’t do that without inhaling loads of noxious fumes and causing permanent brain damage or blindness or death or combinations of the above. So, I pull out the guide for repair and see that one has to remove the ENTIRE console of the car to get it out. I knew it would be an awesome job when the first lines of the repair read “First, the manufacturer recommends you remove the front seats.” I call around and the core is about $150, but most places want $800 for all the labor. What to do?  Do it yourself!

I’m going to pull the better part of the entire inside of the car apart this weekend in a friend’s garage. Will it come out OK?  I don’t know. But at this point I’m ready for a new car and I’ve never attempted anything quite this ambitious before. Closest I’ve come is a water pump that required unbolting and jacking the engine partly out. I’ll be taking pictures and we’ll all see how it goes.  Wish me luck.

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