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Old 11-17-2011, 04:36 PM   #1
Hellkat
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Default Heater core?

Hi! I'm new to this forum and hope this is the right place to post. Please excuse me if I'm wrong.

We have an L series car, not sure which model number, it is a 2001 4 door, 6 cylinder.

About 2 years ago, it started making loud screeching noises that sounded like a bad belt. We undid the engine and replaced the belt, but it continued.

Now, it is sporadically leaking antifreeze. Some does come in through the passenger side floor board, other times I can just smell it after a short trip. The screeching has grown louder, the AC no longer works, and the smell seems to be worse when we run the heater.

Someone suggested it might be the heater core (translation $470.) Wondering what the forum's thoughts are on it.

Thank you so much for this great resource!

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Old 11-17-2011, 05:26 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Heater core?

Welcome to Saturnfans!

If you don't find the answers here then you'll be paying a lot more going to GM.

First, what do you mean by "undid the engine"? Mileage is needed as this may be related; your timing belt, water pump, and spark plugs are recommended for replacement at 100k miles. A leaking water pump won't be seen since its hidden behind the cam timing cover. Crawling under the engine may show coolant deposits.

The serpentine drive belt that can cause belt screeching may not be the belt but the belt tensioner losing its ability to maintain tension - losing its spring from corrosion or plain failure. Removing the serp belt for a minute of engine running can tell you immediately if this noise is from the belt drive system. This also allows hand turning all the belt driven accessories to feel for any worn out bearing; the alternator, idler, and a/c pully are candidates. Access would be easier by jacking the passenger front wheel, removing it and the splash shield to reveal the belt drive and driven components.

It rare for heater cores to leak but not for the two O-rings that seal the two incoming coolant lines to the heater core on the passenger side. Pull away the side console cover to reveal the heater core plumbing. One member already posted pictures of this leak and repair. The O-rings are the weak point and easily replaced. Finding these O-rings was originally difficult and now a bit easier as some have found equivalent replacements from either a O-ring distributor, Graingers or local supply. Search past threads for sizing information and pictures.

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Old 11-17-2011, 07:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: Heater core?

I believe the serpentine belt is fine, the noise there stopped.

It only makes noise now when the heater is turned on. As soon as it turns on, it starts screeching over and over. It's to the point where I don't want to run it, but it's getting below freezing outside. The screech sounds a lot like a bad belt would. Sometimes it's intermittent and won't screech for a minute. They last about 3 seconds and are of varying pitch. Not quite like nails on the chalkboard, but close.

Forgot to mention, the low water light is almost always lit now, even right after it's been filled. It may turn off for a minute or two, but will come right back on. I know these can malfunction, but thought it should be mentioned.

Thank you so much for your detailed response and your welcome to the forum.

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Old 11-17-2011, 08:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Heater core?

Is the noise inside the car where it may be the blower motor making noise?

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