Second Generation Camaro Owners Group - Heater core replacement

This has to be one of the worst freekin jobs you can possibly imagine. It's not complicated, it's just a major PITA. You'll know your heater core is shot because it'll be pissing water all over the passenger floor and it'll smell like anti-freeze in your car. Your engine might overheat due to the water loss. Your windows could fog up.

A cheap fix is to jump the engine water hoses to bypass running water through the heater core. This can get you on the road again with little downtime, but if it's winter time or cold out you'll need some heat in your car. Beware of buying any car with the heater hoses jumped like this because YOU'll be the lucky bitch who gets to fix it.

click to view culprit full size
A/C style heater core

Graphical views:
A/C heater core case (under dash) - showing under dash view, still installed.
A/C housing (under hood) and again, with the housing removed
Removed heater box - showing relationship of core to case.
click here to list related heat & A/C related pictures on site.

The following information was extracted and compiled from the Second Gen Camaro message board. I made some clarification changes and added a couple pictures. Replacing a heater core in an air conditioning car is more difficult than a non-AC car, so the more complex of the two is depicted. The complexity is due to the shape of the core and the additional AC ducting - among other things.

Time saving tips: Remove front passenger seat and passenger side inner fenderwell.

Hey buddy, there is only one way to replace a heater core in a camaro or firebird, the hard way!

But, since the engine is out it will make it a lot easier. The heater box has to come out from the inside. Take out the glove box first(card board), then take out or loosen the front wheel well on the pass. side. You can just loosen it and put a block of wood between it and the fender. After you do this, you can seen the "hidden heater hose on the a/c cars. Take off the "hidden hose" and the top hose. Next, there will be three studs that extend from the inside heater box through the fire wall and have nuts with star washers attached to them. One stud will be accessed right below the "hidden" heater hose. Take off that nut and the two others. The other two are located on the side of the air conditioner evaporator core box closest to the engine. You will think that they hold the air box on, but they also secure the heater box inside the car.

Next, on the inside passenger kick panel there will be a ball shaped piece of plastic protruding from the kick panel. Take out the four or five philips head screws. Then disconnect the vacumn modulator which is underneath the ball. This modulator opens the vent in the kick panel. Should be two bolts holding it to the kick panel and just lift the control arm rod off of the vent rod. Now if you have an air condition vent attached under the glove box, take it out.

Next, take out the console. Now you can see tha heater box. Remove the screw which connects the heater box to the window defroster duct work, right behind where the front of the console was located. Looking through the hole left by the glove box removal, remove the snap washer off the stud on which the cable for you "hot/cold" selector is fastened. Remove the cable, but don't forget the cable is also attached to the box to the left by a pinch clamp.(piece of metal and a screw)

Now take out the only two bolts you can see that hold the heater box to the firewall. Carefully with a lot of force, pull the heater box from the firewall. You will have to really work to get it out from under the dash, but you can do it. As you work the box out, disconnect you vacumn hoses, there will be three connections not counting the modulator connection on the kick panel. Also put some towells on the floor to catch the antifreeze that will pour out.

After the box is out, take off the side of the box that faced the firewall by removing all the screws. The heater core will be located under that cover. You must take off the bracket on top of the box below the rod that you disconnected the "hot/cold" cable from earlier. Then the heater core and the front of the box will lift out. Reverse to reassemble. If you have any problems taking the box apart or putting back together, let me know, I've got some tips. Also, I would remove the gasket for the top heater hose from the air box, it will make threading the heater core tubes through the box easier. Hey, replace your fan motor while you're in there.

I think that is it. Have fun.

You won't need any gaskets. The only thing I can recommend would be some 3M strip caulk(duck seal) and some 3M black super weatherstrip adhessive. You will only need the strip caulk if you break open the air conditioner box out under the hood. I always take the box off because I want to clean out the box. It will have dust, dirt, sticks, and leaves in it from all the years of use. It will also make it easier to get the heater box mounted from the inside with the air box off. I use the weatherstrip adhessive to seal any places in the air box that the srip caulk doesn't fill and also around the evaporator core hard lines. When you go to put the heater box back in, you will find that the foam tape whick seals the heater box to the firewall will be cracked or really dried out. You can replace the foam tape with double sided foam tape or use the strip adhessive to seal up the box. Don't forget to connect the ground strap on the heater box. You'll understand when you get there. The easy thing to do is to remove the stud which the strap is connected to. The stud is clipped onto the box. Take off the stud and connect the ground strap to the frame retainer for the heater core. Then after you put the core back in the box, just clip the stud back on the box and install the box. You'll understand when you get there.


Last updated: 8/30/2012
Author: MadMike Maciolek

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