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Simple guy 07-17-2013 08:50 PM

Heater core replacement
I just recently bought the truck little over a month ago, it's a 03 1500 5.9l magnum quad cab 4x4. Since I bought it I have been smelling coolant from the vents and losing coolant. I am currently replacing my heater core. So far I have removed the steering column and the dash. As I was taking it apart I noticed that I am not the first person to have removed this dash (missing bolts/wrong bolts). Peeking in the HVAC box I can see signs of the culprit; a puddle of coolant. The heater core looks as though it's not the original. Now you have a little back story time for my questions.

I'm not entirely sure how to extract the box.

Is it really better to go with a heater core from the dealer or is my parts store replacement fine?

Are the hoses from the heater core normally two pieced? I noticed mine are made up of two pieces of hose clamped to some sort of connector. Just wondering if it's from a flat-rate shortcut.

What's the coolant capacity? I'm planning to flush the system because the radiator and overflow has brown crud which I assume is the previous owners attempt to fix this with stop leak.

Schematics would be a great help. Any hints, tips?

Simple guy 07-18-2013 01:47 PM

Well this is fairly embarrassing, Got the heater core out looked at it, pressure tested it with no leaks. I look closer to where the hoses clamp to the heater core... trail of coolant down the tubes. Not a happy camper. Lesson learned. check hose clamps.

RogerRamJet 07-18-2013 01:51 PM

Yes, sir. Always check those clamps. But, you learned a valuable lesson and little bit about your truck... that's not a bad thing. Glad you found the culprit.

Simple guy 07-18-2013 08:23 PM

Overall removing the dash wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, actually it's fairly easy. The only problems I ran into were mostly from the previous mechanic that had removed the dash; A cross threaded bolt near the windshield which he just left there halfway, he over tightened the bolts holding the plastics with the handles on the pillars which I had to rip the bolts through the plastic because the threaded pieces were just spinning and a missing bolt under the dash that threads into the HVAC box.

I broke the brake switch when I reinstalled and tightened up the steering column. The plunger ended up under the contact pad as I tightened it snapped the plunger, soft braking no longer illuminates the brake lights so it will fail my state's inspection. I highly recommend removing the brake switch prior to putting the steering unit back in!! I don't remember reading anything about that little tip. A tab on the plastic piece nearest the windshield in the very corner snapped. J-b weld fixed that.

Overall great learning experience I now know the entire inner workings of the entire dash, steering column and studied the dash wiring harness.

GTyankee 07-18-2013 08:32 PM

you mentioned 2 hoses going to some kind of fitting
did it look like this ??

Simple guy 07-18-2013 08:54 PM
Looks something like this fitting.

AZDaytona 11-19-2013 03:34 PM

I know this thread is old but need some help troubleshooting heater core. I am loosing coolant but not at a rate where there is a puddle under the truck or on the passenger side floorboard.Occasionally, I do see steam on my windshield where the passenger side vent is. The truck overheats if I stand too long but turning on the heater can help to cool it. Is it possible that the hoses and clamps can cause the steam or does all of this add up to replacing the heater core. I am trying to avoid the dash removal if this is host and clamp related. Any thoughts or help is surely appreciated.
Does a leak in the heater core automatically translate to the system overheating. The truck is a 4x4 5.7 liter hemi

RogerRamJet 11-20-2013 12:18 AM

If it's overheating while standing, that could be a couple of things. Your water pump could be going, your fan clutch could be going. Turning the heater on will dissipate more heat allowing the truck to cool down. Do you smell antifreeze in the cab? Have a cooling system pressure test done. That way you can pin point the leak. If it is the heater core, then the dash will have to come out. Where the hoses connect to the heat core are in the engine compartment, on the other side of the fire wall. But it could be seeping through. That's why a pressure test needs to be done, to pinpoint where the leak is at.

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