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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This thread regards the “shortcut method” of heater core replacement.

I have a '05 (gen-4) w/ a vulcan engine. On 2/12 I replaced the heater core. I had looked over many posts and documents (links) prior to starting. I recommend you do the same. It is an easy job, but tedious and a bit time consuming. If you need to do this job, and particularly if you own a gen-4, this thread may be of value.

The YouTube video on this was very useful to me. Many have indicated the center console needed to be disassembled and the radio removed; as in the video, I kept mine intact. I did remove the glove compartment and it made access to some bolts easier.

In the video the mechanic tells you to grind off a bracket: 1) I had no trouble removing the core w/out taking off the bracket, and 2) this bracket IS used (at least in my car) to anchor wiring and also to anchor a kick panel under the passenger side of the dash.

The video doesn’t cover removal of the various components under the dash to get to the cover, so find the links that describe that effort, take your time, and remember where everything goes. Take some digital shots if that gives you comfort.

It is a two person job, if only for that time when the dash must be lifted up and pulled back on the passenger side. Remove the trim plastic on the passenger side post as directed in the video.

Make sure you have some looong extensions for the 8mm socket you will need to get the three bolts on the top of the dash. Other wise you will be doing many 1/4 turns and whapping your ratchet handle between the wind shield and dash.

THE biggest pita, and the most time consuming part of this was getting the 2 hose ends disconnected from the core in front of the firewall. They are low on the wall and there is precious little space to reach down to them on the passenger side. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that the flex hose ends are only ~5” long before they connect to metal tubing. Even after one reaches waaaay down there and (without being able to actually see it) coaxes off the clamps, the short tubing has little flex to give for removal. I did most of my work by reaching over from the drivers side.

In the end, I got one hose end off (driver’s side) and loosened up the other. I had pushed the core in and the hose slid off the rest of the way as it went through the firewall. Getting the hose back on was also easier by reversing this process. Once the core was in, but not fully forward, and the dash was hanging ok, I had my son push the core forward as I guided on the hose ends.

Some have recommended removing the intake to provide working room. That may not be a bad idea, but with all of the wiring and screws involved, I just didn’t want to tempt fate. Also, if you have a lift, or a means to easily get underneath, it looks like there is access from below that doesn’t exist from above. (however, take note of the next paragraph)

After I did this job (lucky me) I found a video that shows the replacement of the hose and tube assembly that resides on the firewall. Had I been aware of this assemblies’ propensity to rust out, and its relationship to the heater core, I probably would have gone ahead and pulled the intake plenum and replaced that tube/hose assembly along w/ the heater core.

Note: the upper attachment point for the slotted metal arm you removed to get at the core cover will hang down and block the core from sliding out if you don’t rotate it up out of the way. I used a twist tie to hold it up. Also - I had difficulty replacing that metal rod at the top attachment point until I changed positions from my legs extending out of the passenger door to my legs extending out of the driver side door. I just couldn't get at it with both hands until I did that. You experience may vary.

My total cost was $80. But that includes $25 for a new drop light, and two replacement halogen bulbs. True cost - $55 for the core, as opposed to a quote from a local garage for just under $900. My total time was a bit under 3 hours. But it was cold, and I took my time. As auto jobs go, as said at the start, I thought this was tedious, but relatively easy.

I now have LOTS of heat, and the only time I expect to get that "maple syrup" smell will be with bacon, eggs and pancakes - just like this morning.

Good luck with your effort.
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