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Heater Core Replacement MADE EASY!; quick way to replace heater core
Topic Started: Jan 24 2011, 06:14 AM (4,620 Views)
jstone68
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Jeeper
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Just replaced my heater core---- in about 1 hour (and I have a broken collar bone--- so basically 1 1/2 hands, one person, in the tiniest one car garage)

My car is a 91 Geo Metro. I bought it for $500 a couple weeks ago and found that the heater core had been bypassed with a single hose- my ASSumption was that the heater core must leak, but I had a vague thought in the back of my mind that it might happen to just be plugged- this based on the many posts about plugged or clogged heater cores- seems to be a common problem. But to me, bypassed usually means it's leaking- so i bought a new one and procrastinated about installing it due to my current medical condition noted above. But I was getting cold and anxious to feel my little geo do the job of keeping me warm. So I studied all the posts here, looked and looked at it- then i dug in-- took me just over an hour to complete the job- I'm sure if i could fully use both hands, that I could have done this in about 45 minutes--- far faster and simpler than i thought based on many daunting posts here.

So I'm here to announce- follow these instructions and with any degree of mechanical ability you should be able to remove and replace your heater core in 1 hour if not less.

NOTE- the dash only needs to be pulled out a little bit- basically you're undoing the dash, pulling it outward a few inches, and squeaking the heater box rearward out and down toward the passenger side. THE STEERING WHEEL AND DASH DO NOT HAVE TO BE REMOVED AT ALL!!!

******THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE FOR A 91 METRO ---WITHOUT A/C***************

1- speaker cover removal- there are two small pins in each speaker cover- push them in about 1/4 inch and then pry the speaker covers off- both sides. Also pry the center bolt cover rectangle in the middle front of the dash. Each speaker and this middle peace hides a large phillips head screw that holds the top/front of the dash- take all three of these out.

2- other dash screws- there is one dash screw into the heater box in the center bottom down below the ash tray- remove this screw. There are 3 screws on each side of the dash by the door- remove all 6 of these. While you're at the dash sides, go ahead and pop the little holders for the lower rocker panel covers--- these are overlapping the edge of the dash by the door. Pop these loose and move them up and out of the way of the edge of the dash molding. Also go inside the glove box and remove the one dash screw.

3- steering wheel- under the steering wheel, on the column, is a small cover about the size of your hand- remove the two screws holding this in place, rotate it out and upward to un-clip it from the steering column.

4- gas pedal- there are two 13mm nuts holding the gas pedal assembly to the firewall/floor- remove these and reach up to un-clip the throttle cable from the gas pedal. Completely remove this assembly.

5- heater controls- while you're down by the gas pedal, reach over to the driver's side of the heater box and un-clip the two control cables.

6- Go to the passenger side and remove the strange-shaped duct from the right of the heater box- it's simply wedged into place- just pinch it and pull it down and out.

7- heater box- there are two 10mm bolts on the top of the heater box- one on the driver's side and one on the passenger side- remove them. There are two 10mm nuts on the bottom of the heater on each side- remove them.

The heater box is ready for removal. Be sure to disconnect the two hoses inside the engine bay that are attached to the two pipes coming from the heater box thru the firewall. Look around the heater box and make sure the stereo antenna wire is not attached, pinched, or secured to the box- if it is, move it out of the way. Also, ditch the ashtray- if not it will eventually fall onto your face.

Pull, push, and gently pry (with your hands) on the dash, pulling upward and out toward you. Use your hands in the air vents on the side of the dash. Keep pulling and lifting until it gives a little. Then get into the passenger seat and pull and lift harder. Once the dash is out about 1" from the front/window on the driver's side and about 3-4" out on the passenger side, the heater box can come out. Keep the pressure on the dash up and out on the passenger side- I used my knee, and reach down with both hands and jiggle the heater box until it clears the two bottom screw studs that keep it in place. Once you've pulled the box beyond these two screws you can begin to pull it toward the passenger side while continuing to pull it rearward/out until the heater core pipes in the back of the box clear their holes in the firewall. It will work, just pull rearward/out on the box and the dash- you wont hit or hurt anything, keep pressure on the dash up and out all the while- the box will simply slide out and down toward the passenger side.

Once you have the box out it's really simple from there on out- use a flat head screwdriver to pry the 8 or so clips that hold the two halves of the box together. There is a small phillips head screw by the heater core pipes- remove it. And there is another small phillips head screw somewhere else (i forget where, but it's in a recessed section) remove this one too. The two halves will separate- pull them apart carefully as to not disturb the vents inside. Once it's apart, simply lift the old heater core out, blow out any dirt and dust, and set the new heater core in exactly as the old one came out. Set the halves together again and make sure the two or three dowel pins line up until the halves seat together. Then reinstall the clips, the screws, and you're ready for re-assemble.

Re-assembly- I hate to sound cliche but simply reverse the steps above- IT IS THAT SIMPLE. The box will go back in actually easier than when it came out- and with just a little jiggle and push the dash will re-seat perfectly lined up for screws.

I'm not positive about other Geos, Geos with A/C, etc- but I'm POSITIVE that those like mine can be done fast and absolutely WITHOUT REMOVING THE STEERING WHEEL AND WITHOUT REMOVING THE DASH.

All that said and done I was very excited about having heat- so i rushed down to the 24 hour parts store (1am here) to buy some hose and complete my job----- but these are fitted hoses- must order them. So sad.
Edited by jstone68, Jan 24 2011, 06:23 AM.
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Car Nut
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Cool, err.... hot now. Thanks for the write up.
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Shinrin
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I did this and took pictures of it all a week or so ago. I went ahead and took out the radio and all that. I managed to get the passenger side of my dash all the way onto the passenger seat without removing the steering wheel. Its not bad as long as you remember where each screw went, and didn't lose them all like I did.
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MR Bill
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Nice job and write-up.
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bogs
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Duct tape heals all wounds

Nice write up, now go take pics of each step and add them in :thumb
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Rooy


Nice detailed write-up. But you don't really have to have molded heater hoses. 1/2" bulk heater hose fits fine for all those 1/2" hoses without any kinking.
Edited by Rooy, Jan 24 2011, 07:33 PM.
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valuqueen
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jstone68- Husband had been fighting with this heater core all morning when I decided to see if anyone had responded to my heater core posts. Many had responded and linked different threads (THANK YOU!!!), but I had found this thread myself when we had started having problems so I opened it up for him as well. He wants me to tell you YOU ARE A GENIUS! Thanks for the time you took for the step-by-step ^o)
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jswift
owner of the purplesipper
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Confusious says: When all else fails, come to GMF and get some instructions :news ^o)
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75monzatc
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just jeremy

nice write up, definetly going to try this on my boys car. I did mine, but was easy since I had the interior stripped out. Quick question though, anyone got a link to a heater core that actually fits. I bought one on ebay that was listed to fit either my 92 or 93, but was larger than stock and had to trim plastic and lightly roll edges of tanks to fit in. After asking the seller, he found out that they don't actually fit what they are listed for. No clue what actually will fit without modifying.
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jswift
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Autozone?? :hmm
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JellyBeanDriver
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Just bought an Autozone heater core today. Starting to smell antifreeze when I use the heater and I'm slowly losing coolant.

HOPING I can get the heater box out without having to vent the AC.
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JellyBeanDriver
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JellyBeanDriver
Dec 8 2012, 09:54 PM
Just bought an Autozone heater core today. Starting to smell antifreeze when I use the heater and I'm slowly losing coolant.

HOPING I can get the heater box out without having to vent the AC.
Okay I've decided to remove my evaporator box to do this job. Figure I'd use this time to put in the OEM evap core + box instead of the aftermarket/dealer installed unit I have now. Don't want to lose my R12 though so I plan on reclaiming it by hooking up a tank and putting the tank on dry ice. SHOULD pull all the R12 out and into the container.

I have a nice R508B THICK walled bottle from work I'm going to use.

Out with the evaporator, out with the old heater core.

Edited by JellyBeanDriver, Dec 13 2012, 12:54 AM.
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JellyBeanDriver
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I did mine today, pretty much followed the above EXCEPT before putting it in I removed the steering column bolts so the steering wheel can lower a bit to clear the cluster. Once I did that, pretty much the WHOLE dashboard came forward and was loosey goosey. It was a dream putting everything back in.

Did pull my evaporator box out first and using dry ice to reclaim my R12 worked like a charm. Got down to about 20" of vacuum in the system after about half an hour without using any pump.

Peering into the ports on my old heater cores, the cores were plugged. I cut it open on the bandsaw and it looks like a lot of silicates was the cause. Standard green silicate based antifreeze was all I used until probably 6 years ago. I don't know if all this is from the silicates coming off other parts and ending up here, or it has been slowly catching it all from all the years before running the silicate based antifreeze. I'll post a picture in a day or so. I did cut some of the tubes with the bandsaw so the clogging isn't as bad as it originally looked.

I was expecting to find a huge leak when I opened it up but the core was dry except for the foam on the end where the in/out pipes come in. Must have been a very small seam leak there at the tank end.

Edited by JellyBeanDriver, Dec 31 2012, 01:50 AM.
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