Heater Core Leaking - Guesstimate Needed - Dodge Cummins Diesel Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Heater Core Leaking - Guesstimate Needed

98.5 2500 4X4 24V Auto Quad Cab (Short bed) SLT Lariat 185K

Would appreciate a solid guestimate for a shop to replace both the heater core, and the evaporator.

The heater core has a slight leak (enough to smell and fog the windshield, but no evidence on the ground, or undercarriage). The evaporator was replaced in 2003 by the dealer as part of a "silent" tech advisory as a defective OEM part. The HVAC has been operating standard until now. The heater core "rate of leak" is approximately 8 ounces every 300 miles of operation (highway, no load), and stable.

Since the HVAC unit will be opened, and most of the cost will likely be the labor to remove and disassemble it, might as well replace both.

Considerations: plan to sell this truck in the Spring - mechanically sound, no rust, still shiny, exceptionally clean never intended for it to become my "forever truck", but it has outlived all the competitors. My completely unscientific anecdotal observation is that the best explanation for its virtually problem free 22 years of service is that it has been 100% garaged, either that, or I just got lucky. Jeepyr

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-07-2019, 09:33 PM
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If the truck doesn't already have a cracked dash, prepare for it to have one within a few months of having it out to get into the heater core. They don't take kindly to any sort of movement.

Far as cost goes, I don't have access to a shop program currently, but I would put that particular job at 7-8 hours book time plus cost of parts. So with that amount in mind, my guesstimate would be $1200 for a shop to do the job for you for parts/labor/materials.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 12:05 AM
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6.2 hours labor for auto or 6.6 labor for stick shift .

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 01:45 AM
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Don't forget many dealers double the flat rate hours and at 150-200 for each hour. With sockets and a nut driver/screwdriver you can do it in a day your self. I tcan be done without air evacuation with universal core. You are talking 1000-2000 at a dealer, Just do heater and hoses. We can help you do it in a half day to weekend for 200 bucks for heater. Be real careful of dash or order an LMC first. Run a large bottle of Prestone radiator flush in clear water in it for a couple of days for couple of hours first.
If you want instructions, just ask.
If you insist on a shop. look for an air shop like polar bear or trani shop like AAmco. Get bids.
If for any reason you also need a radiator, Summit Racing or Rock Auto has a great 3 core, 2 1/8 thick OSC brand for 135 dollars. Best cooling mine has ever had. Other OEM style are only two row and thinner, and cost more.

99 2500, Quad cab, 4x4 47RE, BD pressure lock on it, small BD 90/140 chip on the VP 44 connection plug, 17" 3rd gen wheels. 3.55 diffs. Ruenell front bumper and warn winch, Rancho adj shocks. 663k miles.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 09:18 AM
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If your planning on selling the truck and not having any ac problems, I would just swap the heater core without pulling the box. I swapped mine in 3-4 hours and everything went back together fine with no leaks but the dash was already busted and covered. If your around dfw, I have an extra heater core and ill give you a hand.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone for all of the concrete advice - just what I need to make an informed decision. Tempted to tackle it myself, but still recovering from a minor injury sustained while working on a tractor. I like White Lightning's recommendation to replace the heater core only (A/C checks out 100% per the shop manual, and adjusting for ambient temps and humidity) especially since I plan to sell it in the Spring. The dash is pristine - looks like the day it rolled off the line; regret that the dash may be sacrificed. Armed with all of this advice I plan to scout a couple of the trusted local shops, starting tomorrow.

Another question - any thoughts on using a leak sealing product like Prestone's radiator sealant as a "band-aid" until the Spring thaw? Thanks again to White Lightning for the offer to help, but I'm out here in the rapidly subdividing "wilds" of western Maryland.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 07:18 PM
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Dont use any sealant, youll never get all that crap out of the system.

1998 12v, 4x4, Club Cab, Carli, Thuren, BlueTop, Core 4x4, BD Diesel, PDD 5x.012, South Bend
2012 Laramie Longhorn, EFI by Ryan, Carli, Thuren
1995 Dually, Weston's 5x.016, 4k GSK, 5" FloPro, 255/85r16 Toyo M/T, Goerend, ARP, 60# Springs, BW 62/65/14, BW 75/96/1.10, Isspro, Fass 125, BDP Sump, 7mm DV's, 751 HP 1883 FP Torque on NOS
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 10:56 PM
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There is a hack noted online where you cut the pipes from the heater core and use heater hose to replace some of the metal line. Flare the metal pipes if you g this route or you will be doing the job again. Also, use clamps that are more substantial than the average worm clamp. If you were to keep the truck, I'd say to pull and clean the box to be sure you don't have to go back in.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 03:05 AM
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Sealers will not work and gum up the radiator. That is a large leak too.

99 2500, Quad cab, 4x4 47RE, BD pressure lock on it, small BD 90/140 chip on the VP 44 connection plug, 17" 3rd gen wheels. 3.55 diffs. Ruenell front bumper and warn winch, Rancho adj shocks. 663k miles.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 09:49 AM
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I’ve done a bunch of these. The first time u do it , it will take all day. You don’t have to remove the dash completely, just pulled back enough to slide the hvac box out the passenger side. Sealers will just cause more problems. The dash is gonna crack! Make sure all your electric screw gun batteries are charged because your about to remove 250 screws! Hahahaha. It’s not rocket science though.
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