Jeep Wrangler Heater Core Replacement Cost, How Do You Flush A Heater Core On A Jeep Tj

The car’s heater core, when examined up close, looks quite similar to the radiator.

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Functioning the same way, the heater core is mounted beneath the dashboard and will provide the heat required for the blower motor in order to heat the interior of the car.


“Supra Heater Core Replacement” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by JAK SIE MASZ

Heater core replacement cost

The cost of a heater core replacement, like most vehicle repairs, will depend on the car you drive, the mechanic you use and your geographical region. Based on these factors, the average cost of the repair can range anywhere from $475 to more than $1,350 for both labor and the parts.

Most of the costs rely upon the labor, but as for just the part, costs can range from $30 to more than $150, again, based on the factors mentioned prior such as the vehicle you drive and the branded part you buy.

Finding a variety of quotes online, we included our findings in the table below to help you budget for an estimate you may receive…

Vehicle Make/ModelAverage Quoted Price (labor+parts)
Dodge Caravan $500-$750
Ford F-150 $550-$810
Ford Focus $385-$700
Honda Accord $775-$950
Honda Civic $550-$750
Jeep Cherokee $550-$875
Jeep Wrangler $450-$900
Lexus ES350 $575-$900
Mercedes-Benz ML550 $650-$910
Nissan Altima $675-$925
Nissan Maxima $530-$775
Toyota Camry $475-$850
Toyota Corolla $700-$1,100
VW Passat $600-$900

Replacing the heater core

First, to ensure that the heater core is, indeed, the problem, your mechanic will often first smell the inside of the cabin as well the carpet beneath the dashboard as this can often indicate if the heater core is having trouble heating your cabin due to the coolant leaking from the part. If enough of this coolant is leaking, then it can either leak onto the car’s carpet, causing it to puddle, and/or just create a unique smell in general. While this is usually the best way to determine the part is the problem, the mechanic can also visually inspect the part for any suspicions.

The heater core, most of the time, will be located behind the dashboard, often under the center of the passenger side and will have some sort of housing buried behind most of the dashboard’s components. First, before removing, your mechanic will first disconnect the battery and will then remove the steering wheel and any outer doors from parts such as the kick panels, fuse box and speakers, to name a few.

Next, the radio, glove box and any other components, such as the gauges and controls, in the way of the heater core will also be removed.

Once all of these components are removed, it will then be time to remove the entire dashboard, while keeping the air conditioning intact to prevent Freon from leaking into the cabin.

Next, the two heater hoses are disconnected, followed by removing any air ducts and any remaining components from blocking the heater core.

At this time, the heater core area should then be readily accessible, and the mechanic will then be able to remove the heater core housing in order to gain access to the actual heater core part.

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Finally, the heater core part will be removed, replaced and the entire process will be done in reverse order to get your car in working order once again.

From start to finish, the entire job, for even the most experienced professional, can take upwards of four to six hours to complete.

How does the heater core work?

Whenever the engine water pump is operating, it will circulate the engine coolant throughout the heater core, heating the core to the engine temperature. When the desired temperature is reached, the blower motor will then blow air across this core, sending the heat from the engine into the interior of the vehicle. On newer cars, however, the process works a bit differently as the blend door actuators will change the flow of air away from, or partially away from the cor to reduce the amount of heat allowed into the interior, according to, whereas older cars will only rely on a single component known as a heater control valve, a part which is able to stop the flow of engine coolant from entering the heater core.

Signs of a faulty heater core

Odd smells: An odd smell said to be similar to that of a “melon” smell, may come from the vents while the heater is on, often due to the engine coolant entering the cabin of the vehicle.

Lackluster heat:  The heater, even if at its maximum setting, may only blow lukewarm air, which often means the engine is either overheating, the head gasket has failed and/or the heater core is clogged.

Steam or fog: Steam or fog, in some cases, could emit from the vents when you turn on the heat and will fog up the windows, making it hard to see.

Coolant leaks inside:  Take a close look at the floor mats and the carpet beneath your dashboard to see if coolant is leaking and pooling up on the carpet, often the number one sign your heater core is faulty. Aside from the leaks, you may find your vehicle will need coolant much more than it normally should.

Tips to know

A faulty heater core is often due to poor engine maintenance and as the part erodes, it can lead to most failures since the corrosion seen inside of the part can be the culprit of most of the problems. For most car owners, however, the part usually lasts the lifetime of the vehicle as long as the car is kept up on its maintenance schedule, especially coolant flushes.

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