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Can you drive a car with a bad heater core?

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Old 01-05-2001, 08:52 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Car: 1984 Camaro Z28 HO
Engine: L69
Transmission: T5

Can you drive a car with a bad heater core?

I'm guessing not, seeing as a bad heater core would be leaking your coolant everywhere.

It's just that I'm looking at buying a car that needs to have the heater core replaced, and was wondering if I have to get it towed home?

At the least, can I let it run for a bit to make sure it runs nicely before purchasing? How long could you go without damaging anything? Thanks for the help.
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Old 01-05-2001, 08:59 PM   #2
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Remove the heater hoses from the standpipes in the engine compartment, slide them over a 1/2" pipe nipple , flushing "T", or hose splice fitting, apply a couple of hose clamps, top off the radiator, and you're on your way. You could also move some hoses around from the head to the TB coolant passages to accomplish the same thing, but the hoses will have to come off the core sooner or later anyway.

You won't have any heat or defrost, but it should be able to run indefinitely that way. Driving or running the engine at all with a leaky core is going to trash the interior. You'd have to spend hours this summer with hot water and a wet/dry vacuum or carpet cleaner to get all the antifreeze out of the carpets.

Incidentally, a heater core is about $20.00 (US) and takes about one-two hours (again, US) to change. It pro'lly takes longer up nort' because the Molson bottles are bigger and get in the way a little more....

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[This message has been edited by Vader (edited January 05, 2001).]
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Old 01-05-2001, 09:06 PM   #3
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No problem, man. Forget that tow! CUT the heater hoses off the heater core right next to the fire wall (take off the clamps, slice LENGTHWISE a few inches and slide them off!). Cut the ends flush again. Then choose whichever one looks like it's in better shape. Take the "junk" hose off of it's other mounting point- the water pump or intake manifold and SAVE THE CLAMP TO REUSE LATER! Loop the "good" hose over to that mounting point and attach it using the clamp you saved from before. You've jsut bypassed the heater core and looped the coolant so it will still flow like it should to maintain proper cooling.

Make sure the hose "loop" doesn't come near the fan, fanbelts, yada yada. Drive that puppy home and have fun!

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Old 01-07-2001, 07:39 AM   #4
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If you have a newer third gen with the heater core shutoff valve, you don't even have to bypass the hoses. My core went bad in my 89 and all I did was move the temp selector to cold and it quit leaking until I had a chance to replace the core. I drove it this way for about 9 months. The onset of wintertime gives you all the incentive you need to get off your butt and change it!

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Old 01-07-2001, 09:48 PM   #5
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Car: 1984 Camaro Z28 HO
Engine: L69
Transmission: T5

Well I went to look at the car. It had no puddles in the front foot wells, and the guy said it never really leaked. It just smelled of anti-freeze a bit and had no heat or defrost. Does this mean he possibly had that heater core shutoff valve, or perhaps it's just not completely blown? At any rate it was drivable. He said he drove it to work many times like that, no problems.

Anyways, I have a few more questions about the car but I will start another thread since they don't have much to do with the heater core.
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