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rrog 08-23-2012 11:20 AM

New Member Question - Long Read
Hello, new member here with a question I need advice on. I'll try to make this as short as I can but there are some things that you need to know to make an informed decision. Thanks for your indulgence.

My '02 Dodge truck heater core went bad. In December '10 I had it replaced, supposedly with a new one. In January 2012, it went bad again - truck overheating, no heat coming out of vents, fogged up windows, coolant/anti-freeze somehow leaked onto carpet on both driver and passenger side foot rests, etc. The local repair guy said Dodge wouldn't provide a new one since it was one month out of warranty. So I paid again for a new one (at least that's what the mechanic said) and had it installed. Once I got it back, the windows still fogged up and the smell of coolant/anti-freeze was very strong inside the truck. I called and the guy said that should evaporate within a few days but it didn't.

After it didn't I called back and the guy made a comment that, looking back, I'm afraid should have been a "tell" for me. He said there shouldn't be much moisture in the heater core because his guy "had vacuumed it out with a shop vac." My question is this: if he installed a new heater core how come it needed to be vacuumed out? Would there be coolant residue in a new one, enough that would fog up the windows and cause a strong smell in the cab?

I drove the truck for about a month and the smell eventually went away. But if I turned the defrost on it would still slightly fog up the window. The fogging up had a slimy feel to it. It wouldn't just wipe off easily. I had to clean it with window cleaner.

The truck is not my main vehicle so since February it's had very little use/mileage on it. I was driving it the other day and it started to overheat on me. I was about 30 miles from home so I turned on the heater and turned the fan on high. It helped keep the needle out of the red but it still was running hot. I took it back into the shop and the guy called this morning to tell me the coolant overflow reservoir, or the equivalent of it on this truck, was cracked and would take $150 to fix - $81 for a new tank and the rest labor. He said the truck was 6 quarts low on coolant and that's what caused the tank to crack. Is it possible that all the other problems caused this new one? His implication was that it was my fault for having low coolant. Part of the repair back in January was that they filled up the coolant - something that's itemized on the bill.

So is this truly my fault or could it be that all the other symptoms caused the overheating? If the heater core wasn't fixed right then I don't feel I should have to pay to have a new reservoir tank put on. To my thinking, the heater core issue is what caused it to overheat to the point of cracking the tank. Am I out in left field on this?

Thanks in advance for your time and input,

crazychevy88 08-23-2012 08:07 PM

the coolant on the carpet would of been from the removal of the old core (fluid in it and the lines). The slimey residue could of been left in the vents from the last time it went bad and than put back on the windshield when you used thew defrost. But as far as the coolant being low that should be on them (and low coolant wouldnt crack the resivour, it would of just been empty so it was probly cracked due to old age). If they want to say that low coolant cause the damage to the reserve, than I would fight them to buy and install it at there own cost because the coolant levels should of been triple checked after a heater core replacement. Good luck!

rrog 09-06-2012 04:20 PM

Follow Up
Thanks for the reply. Just wanted to follow up. When I mentioned about the coolant on the carpet, it was after they had changed the old core for the new one. It was only then that the coolant leaked onto the carpet. Actually, it leaked the first time too but I had cleaned the carpet after the first time.

When they called to say my truck was finished, the guy said it had been repaired under warranty and the core had indeed been bad. He showed me the actual heater core and pointed out the spots it had leaked from. So I picked up the truck and left a happy camper. That was not quite two weeks ago. I just got a voice mail from him today saying that when I picked the truck up he didn't know that his guy had replaced the reservoir too so he now wants me to call him about paying for that part of the repair. The initial estimate his guy had given up front for that repair was $150 total, parts and labor.

Do you think I have a leg to stand on here? Bear in mind that when he repaired it in February he charged me for replacing the old coolant so there should have been plenty of coolant in there. I don't mind paying what I rightfully owe but I'm just not so sure I should pay for this since they have said it was my fault for not having enough coolant in the truck. Your thoughts...?


tneff1969 05-05-2013 03:59 PM

Sounds like he should have a better clue, of what his employee's are doing. When you picked up the truck, he should have gone over everything before it was released to you. Gotta love the "Oh by the way", phone calls a few days later. Look at your invoice, does it list the reservoir ? If so, his problem. If not, still his problem. I am a little rough around the edges, but this sounds like a typical wannabe shop in our area.

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