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Old 02-22-2010, 05:11 PM   #1
ShawnV
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Default How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Here is a how-to for replacing a heater core in a S-series second generation.

As always, I'd like to thank the saturnfans community and especially KingRex and OldNuc for their help with diagnosing and completing this repair.

Jack up the car high and properly on jack stands.
Remove the heater hoses from under the car:
These were a huge pain but slip-joint pliers worked well to remove the spring clamps then I grabbed the hose with channel locks and twisted it ever so slightly. The hoses slid right off after I tweaked them with the channel locks.



Next, remove the panels on either side of the console and remove a cover on the drivers side (5.5mm).



There are little clips holding the rear of the cover on, but they just pop off.



Remove the screw on the passenger side and remove the cover:





Remove the temperature control cable by lifting up on the little tab where the cable housing is held on, then unhook the loop in the cable:



There is a cover towards the front of the car with one 5.5mm screw. Remove this cover:





Next, remove the panel that’s directly covering the heater core:



Don’t do what I did and remove this cover just to have coolant spill everywhere, place a towel under there first!



Pull that cover out through the drivers side and there is one screw and clip holding the heater core on:




Remove the heater core:





Here’s a pic of the holes in the firewall that the heater core hoses pass through:



Feed the new heater core hoses through those two holes and replace the screw and clip to install the heater core:



Reinstall everything and fill up your radiator.

Some notes:
I didn’t drain my radiator, I just removed the heater core hoses and let the coolant drain.

All the tools I needed were pliers, 5.5mm socket, flathead, and a flashlight.

This repair took me less than 2 hours my first time doing it.

I didn’t have to take the dash or radio apart.

The worst part of this repair was getting the hoses off the heater core at the beginning. Also, cleaning up coolant from my floorboard was a pain.

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Old 02-22-2010, 05:20 PM   #2
OldNuc
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

That looks good. Easy job just as long as you like laying half on the floor and the door sill.

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Old 02-22-2010, 05:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Just be grateful you have a Saturn and not a another make of vehicle like this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0qJhyNRHx0

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Old 02-22-2010, 06:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

thanks for posting that, Now it is just another car I wont buy.

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Old 02-22-2010, 06:27 PM   #5
ShawnV
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdowney717 View Post
thanks for posting that, Now it is just another car I wont buy.
I don't understand. You won't buy what car?

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Old 02-22-2010, 06:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Very niceee

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Old 02-22-2010, 06:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnV View Post
I don't understand. You won't buy what car?
He was commenting on the vehicle in my link.Good job on your core replacement.

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Old 02-22-2010, 07:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by richpin06 View Post
Just be grateful you have a Saturn and not a another make of vehicle like this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0qJhyNRHx0
MOST cars are that bad... My dad wants to replace the heater core in his Nissan Maxima... Pretty much same idea... remove the car around the heater core. Unbelievable.. Go Saturn!

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Old 02-22-2010, 07:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Very nice. It may still smell for a week or two cause of residue in the vents.

Enjoy scent free heat!

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Old 02-22-2010, 07:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Wow, my wife and I must be doubly-blessed. I was actually test-driving some Escort wagons before I bought the SW2 (need "dodged a bullet" smiley here). And she has bought two mid-'90s ("OBS") Ford pickups in the last coupla years. Heater core went out in one about this time last year. We were all set to have the rather mannish young lady freelance mechanic down the street do it, presuming it would be a death sentence to try it in a driveway in February. WRONG; it's actually about the same work as our cars. I had it done before work one morning.

BTW, I *THINK* the '96 Saturn FSM officially calls for removing half the car around the core as mentioned above. This ^^^^^ looks WAAAY better. Now that I know it's just a bunch of covers to pull, I'm tempted to violate the "ain't broke" rule and just swap mine out when I do a coolant / thermostat job in the spring, just 'cuz I once in a blue moon get the faintest coolant smell in the cabin.

Now you've got me curious; gonna check the manual pages tonight.

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Old 02-22-2010, 07:58 PM   #11
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Excellent post Shaun! Under two hours on the first shot too. Proving once again why Saturns are great for DYI repairs. I'd say this definitely has a place in the how-to library. PM Charlie to add it.

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Old 02-22-2010, 08:30 PM   #12
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Will have to remember this. Odds are that I will do that to my car before it hits 20 years old But it doesn't look as hard as a lot of other cars.
Good job and great photos.

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Old 02-22-2010, 08:34 PM   #13
OldNuc
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

The 98 manual has the procedure that ShawnV followed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Wow, my wife and I must be doubly-blessed. I was actually test-driving some Escort wagons before I bought the SW2 (need "dodged a bullet" smiley here). And she has bought two mid-'90s ("OBS") Ford pickups in the last coupla years. Heater core went out in one about this time last year. We were all set to have the rather mannish young lady freelance mechanic down the street do it, presuming it would be a death sentence to try it in a driveway in February. WRONG; it's actually about the same work as our cars. I had it done before work one morning.

BTW, I *THINK* the '96 Saturn FSM officially calls for removing half the car around the core as mentioned above. This ^^^^^ looks WAAAY better. Now that I know it's just a bunch of covers to pull, I'm tempted to violate the "ain't broke" rule and just swap mine out when I do a coolant / thermostat job in the spring, just 'cuz I once in a blue moon get the faintest coolant smell in the cabin.

Now you've got me curious; gonna check the manual pages tonight.

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Old 02-22-2010, 08:59 PM   #14
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The 98 manual has the procedure that ShawnV followed.
Mine specifically is a 1997 FSM. That was just a coincidence though, because I already had the 1997 FSM. It was helpful, but the diagrams were a little confusing because they don't give much background illustrations to help orient yourself.

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Old 02-22-2010, 09:05 PM   #15
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

And I've got a link to this FSM part. (thanks to Cheyene)

http://linksadventure.no-ip.org/heatercore.pdf

and yes, I must say this is an easy job (I'd say a 4 on a scale of 1-10), however the hard part was those hose clamps for the coolant hoses on the heater core.

+1 on Richpin. WHAT was ford thinking when it comes to removing the heater core? Just glad I got a Saturn. Honestly I'd much rather tear down my HP laptop than remove a HC from an escort.

ALSO: does anyone here have any tips on removing the HC from a crown victoria? and I bet Richpin is glad he didn't play music during the escort HC removal video eh?

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Last edited by adventureoflink; 02-22-2010 at 09:12 PM..

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Old 02-22-2010, 09:14 PM   #16
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Heater core on these cars is easy. I did one a long time ago on a late 80's S10 pick up....that was NOT fun. I had a lot more patience then than I do now.

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Old 02-23-2010, 02:21 AM   #17
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by adventureoflink View Post
ALSO: does anyone here have any tips on removing the HC from a crown victoria?
Pop the wheel covers off, stick on a random 4-digit stick-on number on the trunk lid, throw a Krispy Kreme wrapper on the passenger seat floor and take it to your local municipality's motor pool garage. They'll just assume it's a G-car and do it for you.

I'm not helping, am I?

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Old 02-23-2010, 05:41 AM   #18
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

What happened to your heater core?

Was there a crack in one of the cooling fins?

New hoses???

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Old 02-23-2010, 06:19 AM   #19
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjoekingz28 View Post
What happened to your heater core?

Was there a crack in one of the cooling fins?

New hoses???
There was a crack in it somewhere. I didn't put new hoses on.

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Old 02-23-2010, 10:37 AM   #20
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Default Re: How-to Replacing heater core w pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by richpin06 View Post
Just be grateful you have a Saturn and not a another make of vehicle like this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0qJhyNRHx0
my friend and i got about 98% of the way on a Taurus once. very involved.

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