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Volkswagen EuroVan: 1992-2003 (T4) Heater core


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Last Post: May 19, 2014 7:28 PM Last Post By: gregbo
Kahuna77

Posts: 8
Registered: 12/16/04
Heater core
Posted: Jan 18, 2005 5:26 PM
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Hello everyone,

My heater core is leaking inside of 93 Eurovan. I have a new heater core to replace it with. Has anyone ever done one of these? How hard of job is it. Is there a reference point to go to on the CD?

Is there another fix that I can do to the existing heater core?
swim4au

Posts: 163
Registered: 12/17/04
Re: Heater core
Posted: Jan 18, 2005 6:25 PM   in response to: Kahuna77 in response to: Kahuna77
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The procedure for replacing the core is on page 80-9 of the CD that I have,

Bob
ex-1993 Weekender
bikerboylou2

Posts: 3
Registered: 01/20/05
Re: Heater core
Posted: Feb 17, 2005 1:35 AM   in response to: Kahuna77 in response to: Kahuna77
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I recently replace my heater core in a 1992 EV CV with air conditioning. It is a little tough to do. You need to remove the foot well cover to get at the heater box. To avoid disconnecting the AC, I split the heat box from the AC box by removing the C - Clips that hold the two sides together -- needed a long straight screw driver to get at the ones in the back. On re-assembly, It was not possible to get all the clips back on, but the ones that went back on seem to hold both sides back together. Once you get it apart, the heater side comes out fairly easily with some juggling. There are two bolts on the fire wall that need to come out as well -- the lower one is a pain but can be removed from behind the fire wall cover with some patients. Be sure to label the vacuum hoses before pulling them off the heat box to make matching them up afterwards easier. Once out, the heater core is held in the box with just 2 screws. You may want to look at replacing the felt / rubber cover over the holes in the heater flap while it is out -- these tend to degrade over time -- I used felt with contact cement. Hope you like working upside down on your back -- just like yoga. Good Luck.
LBravo

Posts: 24
Registered: 12/05/05
Re: Heater core
Posted: Dec 17, 2006 5:38 PM   in response to: bikerboylou2 in response to: bikerboylou2
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I hope that you get to read this email. I am in the midst of replacing the heater core, and I am wondering if this procedure can be accomplished without removing the dash. I do not have a copy of the Bentley. I had a CD Rom from Popular Mechanics, but I seem to have misplaced it. Any hints, tips, will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot.

LB
gregoryw

Posts: 285
Registered: 11/16/02
Re: Heater core
Posted: Dec 18, 2006 8:45 AM   in response to: LBravo in response to: LBravo
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I have not had the "pleasure" of changing a heater core in a EuroVan, but it is very similar to a '94 Passat that I worked on. I had to remove the dash, but left the A/C connected. You have to break some clips that hold the heater section to the A/C section. It was a very messy job. Next time I think I would go ahead and disconnect the A/C.

For the EuroVan, I think you will have to remove the steering wheel and the dash. There are bolt nuts that you will have to locate on the engine side of the fire wall. Look around the heater pipes and the A/C pipe in particular. There are probably more. You really need to get the Bentley Manual for this project. Sign up for a three day pass on the web version and print off the pages you need.

You are probably looking at an 8-hour job, but the EuroVan may be a little easier since it has more room to work than the dash of a Passat. Sorry, but there is no short-cut.

Windy Gregory
www.VWupdate.com
LBravo

Posts: 24
Registered: 12/05/05
Re: Heater core
Posted: Dec 18, 2006 12:53 PM   in response to: gregoryw in response to: gregoryw
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Windy:

Thanks for the reply. I often wondered if the creators/"replyers" of these threads ever read them or responded to them once the issue has been fixed.

In order to replace the heater core, I started by taking the passenger seat off (needed to anyway, in order to remove a swivel base and cd changer), so that gives me plenty of room to lay down. I then removed the clips. Later, I cut a "chord" that seemed to hold the two halves of the ac compartment together. However, the A/C seems to be tightly closed and it may require cutting or braking, if I am to take it apart. Something I may chose to forgo.

After my failed attempt to take the A/C apart, I proceeded to locate two bolts in the engine compartment (as I had read on another post, one was hiding under the noise/heat suppressor liner). The two heater core connectors/nipples were mushy, one had lost half its length a while back, so I assume that the interior is falling apart, hence the fumes/vapor through the vents and the water leak in the carpet and loss of coolant under the car.

The heater portion (with all of the vacuum hoses attached) now wiggles, and is about 1/2 inch lower, but is not coming out, as it seems that more clearance is needed upfront where the heater/ac controls seem to be on the way.

While I initially thought that I could remove the heater case without removing the dash, the dreadful thought of having to remove the dash is setting in. So, I removed the bolt holding the dash in place, on the passenger side, but the dash is not budging. I am starting to think that I may have to remove the second bolt on the driver side and collapse the steering wheel rod, as I have read others have done. It seems that something else, besides the bolt on each side of the dash may be holding the dash in place. (?)

I also see a couple of more bolts on the engine side, and I wonder if I have to removed those as well. I will do one more search for the Popular Mechanics CDRom, (I don't like paying twice for the same thing and I am operating on a very reduced budget... 3 hungry kids to feed). If not, I may take have to follow your advice on the three days usage. I just know from experience, that often, the manual is not quite as helpful as another weekend warrior's experience.

I was able to pick up a new heater core replacement for $85.00, which I think was a deal. Now, If I can only install it.

Thanks again for the response.

LB
rdwalker

Posts: 30
Registered: 10/19/06
Re: Heater core
Posted: Dec 18, 2006 2:54 PM   in response to: Kahuna77 in response to: Kahuna77
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I have performed this repair myself and it's not an easy one. I have no idea what the manual says to do but I didn't have to remove the dash, just the access panel below the center console of the dash and a section of the center air duct system in the dash.

First, I removed three bolts from the engine compartment side. Two above the core nipples and a lower one that's hidden behind the heat shield. This loosens the unit quite a bit, making the next step a bit easier.

Then I unclipped the heater box from the AC unit. There are a few clips on the engine side of the box that are very hard to get at. I removed as many clips as I could until I could pry the section open and punch the back clips off through the inside of the opening with a very long flathead screwdriver. I think it would be impossible to replace the back clips when putting it back together.

The next challenge is that there is not enough room to bring the unit forward enough to create clearance for the core nipples and bring the unit down. Now that I think about it, breaking the nipples off first might have made it a little easier, they're just plastic.

Then I had to get the entire center section of the plastic air duct system out of the way to bring the unit down. There are two points where the duct connects to the rest of the system that are easy to see and disconnect but there's also a section that's stapled to the center console vents that needed to come off. I tediously removed these staples. Take the stereo out so you have an opening to work through.

After that, I was able to drop the heater unit through the mess of wire harnesses with a bit of tugging and swearing.

The only thing I broke during the operation was the plastic around the screws that secure the heat/AC control lever unit to the dash. You might want to unscrew it from the dash and push it aside.

Once the heater unit is dropped, two screws will take the heater core out.

Replace the core, push the unit back up, secure it with the three engine compartment bolts, re-connect the air duct (screw the staples...don't need 'em), line the AC unit and heater unit up as best you can and replace as many clips as you can to re-seal the two.

Took me about 2-3 hours and alot of that was head scratching time.

Good luck
LBravo

Posts: 24
Registered: 12/05/05
Re: Heater core - Feel my pain.... (dealer quoted $3200.00)
Posted: Dec 18, 2006 4:16 PM   in response to: rdwalker in response to: rdwalker
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RD:

Thanks a whole bunch, your response sure sheds new HEAT on the subject.

A couple of things: First, I did not see that third screw (the second one above the core nipples, I just saw the one above and below). I will have to look for it, when I get home tonight.

Second, I was afraid to cut the core nipples (thought of it, but chickened out), in case that I have to put it all back together and with the tail between my legs, retreat. However, I think that at this stage in the game, I am at the point of NO RETURN. Will shear those two nipples.

I did see two shining yellow metal clips that looked like a bear (or two) to get to. Is that what you refer to when you say: "the plastic around the screws that secure the heat/AC control lever unit to the dash." If so, I guess those two puppies (or cubs) have to come out?

Thank you for YOUR time. I will get back to the CORE, with a renewed sense of direction, this weekend.

Last but not least, mine is a 93 EV. Does the year matter for any of the above?

Best regards to you and the Forum.

LB
gregoryw

Posts: 285
Registered: 11/16/02
Re: Heater core - Feel my pain.... (dealer quoted $3200.00)
Posted: Dec 18, 2006 7:56 PM   in response to: LBravo in response to: LBravo
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My hat is off to RD, who demonstrates that "where there is a will, there is a way." I looked at the Bentley diagram of the dash, thinking that there was a lot more room under there than in a Passat. But then as I looked, I figured no way could you remove the heater core without removing the dash. I guess the key is getting the heater box to seperate from the A/C box. There is a clip on the firewall side that you will not be able to reach. Brute force will break it. Even with this short cut, I don't envy the job you have ahead. Are you sure it was leaking? From what you describe, it sounds like maybe it was only the heater hoses causing a leak. I'm not sure they would leak inside the passenger compartment though since there is a seal at the firewall. Anyway, just a thought. Let us know how it goes. Oh, I assumed you had a '93.

Windy Gregory
www.VWupdate.com
LBravo

Posts: 24
Registered: 12/05/05
Re: Heater core - Feel my pain.... (dealer quoted $3200.00)
Posted: Dec 18, 2006 8:27 PM   in response to: gregoryw in response to: gregoryw
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Windy:

Yes, I am NOT sure.... he,he,he... Hence, the hesitation to cut the nipples. But, it was leaking a bit by the foot well, had the vapor through the vents, fogged up w/s, and massive amounts of coolant on the road (this part scares me a bit... as I don't know how the coolant from the heater box got to the outside(?)).

Nevertheless, even if the leak was the nipples in the engine compartment, as was the case when I lost half a nipple,.. (now I have new hoses), the core would have to come off. So, while I am banking on it being broken, I only have a 95% probability that it is. Even if it is not the core, with 137k miles on the odometer, and these cores being good for about 100k, I might as well replace it.

I will sleep better when this puppy is fixed. It will then have: a new starter, fairly new Trans., new radiator, new water connectors in the eng. compartment (one by one they all broke), new distributor, new cat, new exhaust system, new tires... Need I tell you more? Ok, new oxygen sensors, new 2nd battery, new stereo. More? Ok, new window tinting, rear door shocks, new struts, extra cigarette lighter next to the refrigerator connection, new door flaps under the rear bench, new cup holders. Ok, can't think of anything else right now. You get the picture.

I will definitely spent a few minutes to keep you posted.

I have already taken the two hoses off the heater box and a couple of clips that attach the box to the A/C, and I am starting to see some movement.
rdwalker

Posts: 30
Registered: 10/19/06
Re: Heater core
Posted: Dec 19, 2006 5:33 AM   in response to: Kahuna77 in response to: Kahuna77
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Hey LB,

Mine's a '92 GL so the bolt pattern in the engine compartment may be different for some reason. The two upper bolts on mine are side by side about 4 inches apart so you couldn't miss the second one if it was there.

First, Since you're not positive that the core is leaking, I would get yourself a straight piece of plastic plumbing that will fit the coolant hoses that came off the core nipples. Something a few inches long and flared or ribbed at each end. That way you can connect the hoses into a loop in the engine compartment. The van will run fine like that (minus cabin heat). That will make the van usable at least and if it stops leaking you will definitely know it's the heater core. I do suspect that the core is leaking though from the symptoms you mentioned. There's a drainage tube (for condensation?) that runs through an opening in the floor of the van and that's likely how your coolant is getting beneath the van. I have 130,000 miles on my van and I had to replace both the front and rear heater cores recently. If you have a rear heater you'll be happy to know that the core replacement is a piece of cake compared to the front one. It's a slightly different core design and not interchangable with the front.

Yes, I seem to remember those gold/brassy looking clips you're talking about. I think they have bolts or screws in the center that come out, then the clips slide off? I don't remember them being that hard to get to. I also don't remember if it was necessary to remove them. I know I took more clips and screws out than I needed to while trying to figure it all out...and had some left over when I was done...shhhhhhhh.

The thing I broke was the inner plastic frame around the slider/fan controls on the dash. It took a bit of abuse while trying to pull the heater box down and it's a little delicate. It's attached to the dash with phillips screws which face upwards on the lower, inner side of the frame...hope you have a stubby screwdriver. Remove the screws if you can and just let it hang from the vacuum lines out of the way. I didn't have to remove any of the vacuum lines during this repair.

Also, if you get the new core in, or have lost coolant and loop the coolant hoses like I mentioned, you will definitely have air in the system which will need to be bled out. Your engine temp. light will start to flash after about 5 minutes if there's an air lock in the system...bad. There is some good information here in past posts that tell you the proper way to get the air out. Do a keyword search for them. There's a bleeder screw on one of the coolant hoses that attaches to the heater core nipples on mine. This is supposed to be the highest point in the cooling system so all the air should eventually rise to this point. What I did was run the van for a few minutes with the reservoir cap off to circulate coolant through the new heater core. Then I turned the engine off, removed the bleeder screw and overfilled the coolant reservoir until coolant came out of the hole where the bleeder screw was. The reservoir globe was pretty much filled to the top for this to happen. This purged all the air out and I just sucked the excess coolant out of the reservoir with a turkey baster afterwards. Probably not in the manual, but it worked.

Anyhow, good luck. I will look for any additional posts and offer more info if I can.

Cheers
LBravo

Posts: 24
Registered: 12/05/05
Re: Heater core
Posted: Dec 19, 2006 11:03 AM   in response to: rdwalker in response to: rdwalker
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RD:

Yours, is the most comprehensive write up on heater core replacement in the entire web. I know, I must have searched it about ten times, in about 10 different ways each time, and read every thread.

Hopefully, I will be able to replicate your feat/accomplishment.

I don't believe mine has that second screw. Did not get a chance to look at it last night (10:30 pm., by the time I got home).

Anxious to continue this Friday.

Did I say THANKS?

LB
LBravo

Posts: 24
Registered: 12/05/05
Re: Heater core
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 7:03 PM   in response to: rdwalker in response to: rdwalker
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As stated, the dealer wanted to take the entire dash out and quoted $3,200 labor. A local VW mechanic quoted 10 hours labor at $125/hour, and said "it could be more..."

Thanks to the weekend warriors (Gregory and RDWalker), and a couple of hours labor, (maybe 3-4, as I still need to put some things back together), it is done. Cash out of pocket = $85.00 for the core (delivered), plus the cost of one of the screws that holds the heater core in place. I will find out how much it is when it gets here. I dropped it and it went to the Ozone... place where all screws and washers, that one needs to finish the job, go when dropped.

RD/Gregory, couldn't have done it without your help. 3,115 thanks. Something about using brute force in extremely delicate places. Having done that blindly a few times, and having busted some very important/pricey pieces, makes one reluctant to do that. Something called experience, or aging, I think. However, when someone who has done it says, pull until it comes apart, you just keep pulling, until the clips in the back came apart. I would have stopped half way there. I did cut off the connectors that come into the engine bay, and dreaded putting the new one back in. It was difficult, but it went in there.

I am thankful that it didn't go smoothly, which forced me to go to the engine compartment, and I was able to see a vacuum hose disconnected. Although I had marked the other two, I had forgotten about that one. One of my assistants, (9 year old) had no trouble sticking his hand through the hole on the fire wall and making the connection.

I would only add that one does not have to take the A/C clips off. I pulled out about 13, and have only been able to replace about 8. It is also, not necessary to mess with the A/C side, the dash, nor the fan, at all. Someone wrote, that the A/C lower portion had to be removed. Again, I am so thankful that you RD wrote to say NOT!. I had no clue where the Core was. Of course, this long write up is for the benefit of other mechanics havetobes due to lack of funds, or weekend warriors that may want do the core replacement themselves. I am merely, passing on what I received.

Thanks again.

Lucho Bravo
jw

Posts: 68
Registered: 05/26/04
Re: Heater core
Posted: Jan 11, 2011 12:39 AM   in response to: LBravo in response to: LBravo
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I apologize for resurrecting this old thread but I will be replacing heater core as soon as I get it. Today I received one (damaged during shipping) but I am not sure if it was correct one. On page S80-15 Bentley shows heater core with inlet and outlet oriented perpendicular to short side wall. What I receive today is different. Inlet and outlet is oriented perpendicularly to longer side wall. Can some body tell me if what Bentley shows is for non AC van ? I do have AC.
Appreciate any guidance
ThomasJCook

Posts: 1
Registered: 10/02/12
Re: Heater core
Posted: Oct 2, 2012 11:59 AM   in response to: jw in response to: jw
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Hi again, is anyone still out there to discuss this repair?`

Now it is my turn to try the heater core replacement without removing the dash. My van is a '97 T4 with AC but without climate control (did any of the Winnebago campers have this?).

I have the passenger lower dash out, the center console out and now I am looking for the three bolts through the firewall. I only found 1 small one on the engine side under the side-by-side plastic pipes that connect the core to the cooling system.

I know that this is a very silly question but do I have to remove the foil backed heat shield from the firewall to find the bolts?

Any other tips on this job would be greatly appreciated. Summer is over and wife wants heat back. BTW, the van ran fine all summer with the heater core bypassed via a quick field fix when the heater core plastic pipe on the engine side failed after 5 miles of summer washboard road driving.

Thanks again-
Thomas Cook
1997 EVC - 221k and still going
dwerks

Posts: 2
Registered: 10/18/12
Re: Heater core
Posted: Oct 18, 2012 11:53 AM   in response to: ThomasJCook in response to: ThomasJCook
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Attachment IMG_2024.jpg (96.6 KB)
Attachment heater core repair.zip (957.6 KB)
I am in the middle of my own heater core replacement on a '99 EV with climatronic system (manufactured May '98). I had to completely take the dash out and every little thing in it (instrument panel, radio - every switch and vent, steering wheel & blinker arms, etc) Once every last screw was removed and the gold hex nut under the wiper arms on the firewall, the dash came out with some wriggling.

To remove the heater core, I had to loosen the bolt under the two plastic heater core pipes coming into the engine compartment. As RD mentioned, there is a bolt about 18" further down, behind the foil on the fire wall (look for the bulge in the foil). Just unscrew the top clip(s) to loosen the foil enough to get your 5mm allen key down there. Mine was actually only hand-tightened! No wrenching was necessary.

Removal of the fresh air intake & cabin filter box, and 3 screws mounting it to the firewall was necessary. There was only a single hex bolt near the metal AC lines that needed to loosen.

From the inside, with the dash completely removed and all vents/ducts removed from the main HVAC assembly, I only undid the vertical brass clips along the side of the little flap box that the heater core resides in. This allows you to separate the left 1/3 or so of the entire HVAC assembly and swing the heater core forward enough to slide the old cracked heater core out, soak out all the leaked coolant, and insert a new heater core, while allowing the perfectly functioning AC system to remain untouched. It was maybe 6-7 brass clips is all. EDIT: After the repair I found a random page in the Bentley manual that showed my exact method for removing the heater core!

Trust me, just take the time to dismantle and pull out the entire dash and electronics & vents. I wasted ~4 hours trying to keep from pulling out the dash but it was 10 times easier with dash removed.

UPDATE: Just got everything put back together. It took 4 hours. I have a few left over clips and bolts but it's all solid and working. I thought I'd post a few pics. I've attached one pic and a zip file with 13 more that just show some helpful angles I was able to catch while going thru the process ... I wish I had found pics like these and I hope they help someone!

-DWerks

Edited by: dwerks on Oct 18, 2012 5:19 PM
FKH161

Posts: 7,611
Registered: 12/29/05
Re: Heater core
Posted: Oct 18, 2012 7:33 PM   in response to: dwerks in response to: dwerks
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Did you fix the flap doors that are missing foam?

Sorry, didn't look at zip file yet... on my phone right now.

Edited by: FKH161 on Oct 18, 2012 7:44 PM
dwerks

Posts: 2
Registered: 10/18/12
Re: Heater core
Posted: Oct 18, 2012 11:22 PM   in response to: FKH161 in response to: FKH161
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No I didn't worry about the flaps, just reinsulating the seams of the ducts and joining places. The main flap door didn't seem too awful and air blows through the system really well on l settings (direct, floor, defrost, etc).

My next issue is the blower will run for a minute or two then cut out. I'm not sure what's going on with it. This is with both AC and heat. I'm thinking it must be a fan sensor or faulty switch. All relays and harnesses looked fine (although I didn't test them with a meter).
FKH161

Posts: 7,611
Registered: 12/29/05
Re: Heater core
Posted: Oct 19, 2012 1:26 AM   in response to: dwerks in response to: dwerks
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Just looked at the zip file... the front flap looks better in one of the other pictures than the picture you attached above (I thought the foam was missing... but it looks like only the outer layer is coming off).
KSeago

Posts: 4
Registered: 07/04/05
Re: Heater core
Posted: May 19, 2013 8:32 PM   in response to: ThomasJCook in response to: ThomasJCook
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Hi Thomas Cook (or anyone else who can answer this question),

I too need to temporarily bypass the heater core on my 1997 EVC. The nipple on the passenger side of the heater core (in the engine compartment) shed about a quarter of an inch at the end of the nipple, including the raised portion. I was able to push the hose and clamp waaaay back against the firewall, but this situation does not inspire much confidence.

How did you bypass the heater core? Did you merely connect the long hose on the drivers's side to the tee on the passengers side?

Thanks in advance,

Kris S. Seago
1997 EVC
208,000 miles

Edited by: KSeago on May 19, 2013 8:32 PM

Edited by: KSeago on May 19, 2013 11:45 PM

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