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Replacing heater core in a '92 - play by play for your entertainment

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Old 04-15-2017, 09:34 PM   #1
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Default Replacing heater core in a '92 - play by play for your entertainment

With nice weather here, I'm replacing the heater core in my '92. There are several threads about the exact how-to and what-to so I'm not going to duplicate those. This will just be some random comments, observations and probably questions, and I'll update as I go. Hopefully something here will help the next guy. I might add that I'm reasonably experienced at wrenching - not my first rodeo by a long shot but I sure don't know it all nor do I claim to be an expert, just average. I learn something (usually MANY somethings) from every job I get into.

First, allow more time than you expect. I rolled up my sleeves, got out the tools, started a little reconnaissance. At which point my wife wanted to go for a walk since it was a nice evening. THEN I got ready to start - and she asked me to make a run to the grocery store for some last minute items. (She's a definite keeper and is NOT a PITA altho so far it may seem that way.) And when I got back from the store dinner was on the table so I abandoned the project for tonight!

I have the FSM, and I did what I usually do on projects (and as someone in one of the threads here also suggested). Instead of constantly pawing through hundreds of pages of the book, I made a document of the steps and printed it off, and put it in a clear plastic sleeve which I can have in the car while I'm working. The sleeve helps keep it clean even if I have greasy hands.

A couple other things should be standard procedure - first, take lots of digital pics. They are free. And while you "know" how things fit together and will "easily" remember how they reassemble, if you are like me by the time the job is in the second half there's always something I need to double check.

Also, what does a box of zip-lock sandwich bags cost? A buck? Two maybe? Get a box, and every small part which could get separated, lost or mixed up goes in a separate bag with a piece of paper saying what it is and anything else you'll want to know. It will save a lot of stress later on.

Last observation at this point, having only gotten as far as removing the black plastic cover on the underside of the dash, below the glove box - unless you have done a lot of this stuff before, it will take a bit of effort to learn the names of what you are handling. I'm sure the FSM will have diagrams if I dig for them, but since it involves multiple chapters of the manual you can't always identify what you are looking for. Some parts are easily understood by the name, others are not so obvious. Doing some homework first by looking at diagrams will pay off.

That's it for now. Happy Easter to everybody and I'll post more as the fun continues. And feel free to offer advice or criticism or ask questions - hopefully somebody else will benefit from my ordeal!
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Old 04-15-2017, 09:39 PM   #2
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Good luck.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:16 PM   #3
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tedious backbreaking NON-sense. I just completed one in a 94 - lucky for me, I practiced on my 94 parts car.

make sure you pressure test the new heater core. I guarantee. you wish this is a once in a lifetime replacement.
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Old 04-16-2017, 12:41 AM   #4
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Went through this a few months ago on my 92. it's not hard just takes time.

Getting the fuse box out and back in is a bit of a pain.
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Old 04-16-2017, 01:18 PM   #5
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This will just be some random comments, observations and probably questions, and I'll update as I go. Hopefully something here will help the next guy.
Thanks- this is great. I DREAD having to do this on my car, but so far so good. I did a heater core on my 82 C3 and while doable, it was a PITA.

Good luck- I'll be watching and rooting for you!
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Old 04-16-2017, 06:48 PM   #6
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Like I said, this will be thoughts, opinions and questions. Like my thought while lying on my back looking up at enough wires to run the space shuttle - "WHAT am I getting myself into? " I have not gotten into the serious work yet, just some simple things and a lot of trying to understand what I am looking at.

I went back and looked through some of the threads on here, I THOUGHT it can be done without removing the upper dash trim panel but that appears to be the older style C-4's. Now I did find a YouTube where the guy did a '92 while leaving the panel on, but he found he had to saw through an air duct and then use PVC and tape for reassembly and I'm not going to do that. Also be advised that there are 2 types of climate control, the one with a cable and the electronic one.

FWIW, that YT video is at
in case anybody wants to watch it just for general learning.

Some posters on here, and the guy in that video, praise the use of a small video scope for seeing around corners and up behind things. I'll be paying Harbor Freight a visit, been meaning to get one anyway and now's the time.

Last, I'm not a huge fan of the FSM illustrations. I'm still having trouble identifying what each individual item is - some are easy and obvious, others have me flipping through various chapters looking for confirmation or information on a given part. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who sometimes wonders how much force to use when taking something apart. The 25-year old plastic can be stubborn, but I find myself second-guessing whether I'm doing it right or not, while trying not to snap some clip or prong off. But that's what makes it fun I guess!

If it helps anybody, in the '92 FSM the basic instructions for heater core removal are on page 1B-30, and upper trim pad removal and a parts diagram are on 8C-23.
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Old 04-16-2017, 08:09 PM   #7
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Thanks- this is great. I DREAD having to do this on my car, but so far so good.
I'm pretty convinced that cooling system maintenance = no heater core failures. I'm sure there are anomalies, but I do the maintenance (and use ELC)...never had a heater core fail on me.
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Old 04-16-2017, 08:33 PM   #8
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Had some time so I got into it just a bit. "I/P Compartment" turns out to be the glove box. Nobody keeps gloves there but we still call it that and the FSM would have been just a bit more user friendly to say so.

Anyway glove box out and fuse box cover and end trim piece removed. As long as I'm bellyaching, why are some things hex heads, something else a Phillips, and the next screw to it is a Torx? Sounds like how the .gov would do it!

This is not something I will stay on until it's done - I have various things in process and it may be a day or two between updates - or I may have a chance to do a lot more soon, we'll see. If somebody is planning or doing this project and needs a pic of a certain angle I'll do my best to help out. And at the same time if somebody sees I'm doing something wrong or have missed something, please say so - I will NOT take offense and I'm learning as I go.

A couple pics:




A question for those who have done this: What is the gizmo hanging down in the next pic? Have not ID'd it yet but presume it's one of the things on the "remove" list.


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Old 04-17-2017, 12:07 AM   #9
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It would appear someone installed a aftermarket stereo? The adapter shown dangling. is a antenna signal booster.
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Old 04-17-2017, 08:23 AM   #10
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The video posted above probably isn't the best instruction
if you watch the whole thing he's trying to do it with the dash in place and finally decides to cut an air duct in two to get it out
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Old 04-17-2017, 08:32 AM   #11
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The video posted above probably isn't the best instruction
if you watch the whole thing he's trying to do it with the dash in place and finally decides to cut an air duct in two to get it out
That's what I wrote in that post.

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It would appear someone installed a aftermarket stereo? The adapter shown dangling. is a antenna signal booster.
THAT'S what it is! Thanks!
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Old 04-17-2017, 10:07 AM   #12
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i'm pretty convinced that cooling system maintenance = no heater core failures. I'm sure there are anomalies, but i do the maintenance (and use elc)...never had a heater core fail on me.
elc?
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Old 04-17-2017, 11:25 AM   #13
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I'm pretty convinced that cooling system maintenance = no heater core failures. I'm sure there are anomalies, but I do the maintenance (and use ELC)...never had a heater core fail on me.
Bear in mind that these are old vehicles. Few of us have owned our C-4 since new. Even if someone has done something right for the past 5 years let's say, who knows what happened the 25 years before that? It may not always be possible to put the miles back in.

The original in mine lasted 24 years. If the new one makes it that long, it won't be me replacing it. I'll either be gone, or way too old to mess with it.
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Old 04-17-2017, 11:42 AM   #14
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I hear you. I wasn't implying that you can "get it back"....but you can certainly stop or dramatically reduce degradation with good maintenance....and most people don't do good cooling system maint. I hear you though; my car is 25 years old too.



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elc?
Extended Life Coolant.
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Old 04-17-2017, 02:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
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you can certainly stop or dramatically reduce degradation with good maintenance....
Maybe I should'a been drinking the stuff!
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Old 04-19-2017, 08:55 PM   #16
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OK, here's an update. First issue is I have not had the time to just buckle down and stay it it. So it takes a bit to get back up to speed each time.

Biggest item so far is understanding WTF I need to do. The FSM does, contrary to my previous post, have drawings and instructions for almost everything. Problem is it's NOT easy to find - for example the instruction and the related drawing are often on two separate pages, sometimes not even close. The FSM says "Remove X as described in this section." Would be SO helpful if they said "as described on page 8C-21".

Another PITA was ONE instruction which said "remove A,B and C". After digging, instructions for removing A are on page 39 of the section, B's instructions are on page 10, and C is explained on page 12.

SO - I am making a comprehensive outline which I hope will help others, as well as me. When I get it done I'll try to post it on here. This will have each step as described by the FSM, with the page number of the narrative and of the illustration. And when there is a sub-step I'll have that in the right place. (For example, the core removal has 29 steps, the first is "Remove dash pad" which has 9 steps, and one of those 9 is removal of the glove box which has 3 steps itself ) Of course this will be specific to a '92 but hopefully it will be worthwhile to someone.

So far, nothing which I can't handle but as others have said it's not a fun easy job.

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Old 04-19-2017, 09:14 PM   #17
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I have the steps i used in a word file from when i did my 92. might be useful as a starting point or comparison. Where it sent me to another section I annotated it in parenthesis.

if you want a copy PDF or word send me your email via PM.
Don't think I can attach a PDF
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Old 04-19-2017, 09:25 PM   #18
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I WILL ask a question - any easy way to remove the snap ring in the shifter of an automatic? My snap ring pliers don't QUITE fit down in there, and they block the view of the little holes the prongs go into. I will try again in daylight, maybe after adjusting the points to extend out just a little farther in the snap ring tool. Unless someone here has a magic shortcut.
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Old 04-19-2017, 09:55 PM   #19
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I did this on my 93, it just took a small pair of snap ring pliers. No magic bullet that i know of..............
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Old 04-19-2017, 10:09 PM   #20
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the only pliers I could get to work were an old set of craftsman that you could swap tips on.

it's a PITA. My snap ring now resides in a ziplock bag. The **** fit tight enough to stay without it.
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