how long to replace heater core?

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Dec 28, 2010
San Diego, CA
I suspect my heater core may have a leak and will take the car to the shop to get it checked out. Does anyone know how long this would take to fix? Seems like a lot of stuff needs to be removed to get to the core. Trying to decide if I will need to pencil out a day or two from my schedule!
i would take a free weekend to get it done, it could be quick but offten times everything is stuck or you'll end up breaking something or it will just take longer then you think it should, best to allow to much time then not enough.
You are talking several hours at least for Remove & Install. I wish carmakers made these things more accessible. Or make sure you are good friends with the mechanic.
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Thanks for all the responses. I've heared stories about how easy it is to fix and how hard it is to get everything back together :-(
We get customers in a lot complaining about why is it that the core itself only costs $80-150 but the job is $1500. I joke that the first part on the assembly line is the heater core and the entire car is built around it.
Originally Posted By: joaks
Does it really cost $1500??
On some cars I have seen it be that much ya. I have seen some labor quotes of around 12 hours and at $115 an hour there you go. I have no knowledge of how hard it is on your car though, just seen it on Ford products.
About $800 on my 1986 Jetta. And it was a easy job compaired to some vehicles these days. Sister just spent about $450 for the 1993 Caravan. (Thankfully VW paid for it after I did) You do have one going bad. frown I hope (but sadly doubt) that the Subaru coolant conditioner works for you. Anything that could prevent the issue of replacing the core would be a good thing. A lot of the times once they take the dash apart its a rattle-fest for the rest of the life of the vehicle. Bill
Should I need to get it fixed, do you think the subie dealer would be any better than my local NTB for getting everything back together?
I would find a subaru independent mechanic. NTB will probably be cheaper if their labor rate is cheaper. I think your odds of getting quality rattle free service is the same at either place.
IMO....You would think by now, that intuitive auto manufactures would have made a separate bolt or screw in Panel on the firewall of vehicles, to make it easier to access to the heater core for replacement. I guess this is something that Toyota, or another Asian auto manufacturer, could work on to show progress.
Originally Posted By: Cristobal
You are talking several hours at least for Remove & Install. I wish carmakers made these things more accessible. Or make sure you are good friends with the mechanic.
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If automakers are removing spare tires, then I really don't expect them to spend any money to make heater cores easier to get to. I've only replaced one on an 86 Saab. All my other cars haven't had problems when I sold them with between 150-350,000 miles. Well, I suppose the evaporator on my 02 BMW is smelling a little...
I called NTB for an estimate but I will need to bring it in for them to look at. Sent an email to the Subie dealership also. Looks like online from other subies it could be from $500-$1200. $500 is a lot but something I can handle. $1200 just sounds like a lot.
If you live in a temperate seasonal climate, you could always by-pass the heater core and deal with the cold with more layers. I can only imagine what people go through in areas of extreme winter cold. I hope that the vehicles have more than one heater core to keep the occupants warm. A metal panel, on the firewall, with access to the evaporator core and the heater core would make life that much easier when replacement is necessary. Unless, some ingenious mechanics have retro-fitted vehicles with easy access through the firewall for replacing these cores?
How hard is it on a 1997 GMC Sierra/Chevy Silverado? I own one but all seems well so day I may have to change it out.
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