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So I had toxic vapor that wreaked of exhaust and coolant coming from my vents. No fluid on the floor.............then one day I had the fluid. My core had a leak. Here is how I replaced it without COMPLETELY removing the whole dash.

Before you start, move your driver seat all the way back and take your battery out. Yes...........out. Easier to get to heater hoses with a battery out of the way.

First remove your bezel, take out your radio, remove your heater controls and take off the covers under your radio and under your steering wheel. Pull out your glove box as well.

Next crawl under your dash and unhook your hood release (just unscrew the release), remove that support brace the hood release was attached to (you need to unplug your airbag sensor and detach s couple things), E-brake (just flip the tab and unhook the bar) and unhook your shifter linkage cable (if your looking down the shaft of your steering column it is just beyond the cosmetic plastic at your 10 'o clock, you will see it move when you move your shifter).

Okay, now remove the bolts that hold your steering column up, also remove the support rods that run from those bolts to your body. Lower your steering column down to the floor. You may need to push the cushion in a bit, but it will go.

Next go ahead and take out your dash cluster and slowly guide your disconnected shifter cable. Do break it, it is a dealer only part.

You should have something that looks like this:


Next loosen the nuts inferior to the front face of your dash. There is one on either side:


Take out the screws along the top of your dash by the windshield, and before you get happy and start yanking on the dash there are two more bolts in front of the 4wd shifter that need to be removed:


Okay, look back at this pic closely. There is a ground wire on the passenger side just below that 13mm bolt. Remove that ground wire. If you have the Infinity sound system unplug the wires. I have it, but am not running the wires.


Okay here is where you really need a second person. With one person on either side lift up and out on the dash. You need to clear the bracket in front of your 4wd shifter. Once you get about 12" out you will need to unplug the blower motor wire connector (pic below) and a huge asz plug that goes into your firewall (no pic, too busy trying to get it out, PITA):


Keep pulling the passenger side out and walk the driver out as far as it will allow. After 45 min here is where it stands. PLENTY of room to get a heater box out.


Pull the already disconnected heater control cable and hoses out of the dash and lay them on the box. Unhook the hose from the box and set it aside. Under your hood along your firewall you will EASILY find the nuts that hold the heater box in, but the one that is tough to find is right next to the transmission dipstick tube just behind the union of the head and valve cover. they are all 7/16". You will need a wrench for that last one as the Valve cover is too close to get a deep well in there.

After an hour here is where I had it:


Box has a lot of screws. More on top and about 4 on the bottom side. You do not need to take apart the rod assy with the nut on the top. However you need to take that retaining ring off next to it. Also there is a black vacuum line on the driver side bottom held on my a screw. Take that off to get the top off properly.


Bad core! Bad! Go to hell!


Clean this crap out:


So clean:


New parts in:


Keep in mind the OEM replacement cores are thicker and not as long, so you need to snap off one of the tabs to get it to slide all the way in and down.
 

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Keep in mind the OEM replacement cores are thicker and not as long, so you need to snap off one of the tabs to get it to slide all the way in and down.
Id like to add that. Though that is an adequate replacement, they do make heater cores that are the proper length. I just had to order the 5/8 x 6 5/8 x 7.5 core and it fit properly with no tab breaking. Autozone part number 399142 is the short thinker one and 99341 is the thinner longer one that will fit properly.

Of course some models have the shorter thicker one so you you'll have to see which one you need.
 

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Yes I got the autozone 99341 and fit like a glove.
I just did this replacement yesterday (finishsed), started the day before.

Couple of detail points that I got stuck on.

1) the nut behind the dipstick. With the insulation, i had no chance to get to it without removing the dipstick, I removed the bolt holding the dipstick to the block and moved the dipstick out of the way, I then used bungy cords to hold the wires out of my way, then the nut was easy with non-deep 1/4 drive socket on wable adapter on the end of a bunch of extensions. Did not try but maybe I could've done with non-deep socket without moving dipstick, don't know.

2) The heater tube that runs along the transmission tunnel just slides towards back of truck for removal from the hvac box, I had to pull my carpet to figure that out.

3) the glove box is a mofu to get out, I ended up using a screwdriver to pry the center clip out from the back.

4) Be very careful under the dash to check for wires and the like zip tied together, I have after market alarm and I almost pulled a bunch of wires out of sockets when moving the dash due to zip tied wires.

5) I lost much time getting the hoses off of the core, they were totally stuck, next time I'd carefully cut them, I think at least the straight one to the pump is long enough to over come the loss of a bit due to cutting off of the core.

6) Be careful with the plastic guides within the expansion valve for the AC, the are just placed in there and fall out. I got lucky and found mine on the floor, they don't look super easy to find based on quick internet search.

7) Be aware, that once you pull the passenger side of dash out and walk out the driver's that I was no longer able to shut my driver's door, something to think about. I did mine outside in 20-30 degree weather, left open over night, fortunate nobody made a home in there.

8) the bolts that hold the AC valve block on are star not hex, I was working at least in part at night almost stripped them using hex, I got very lucky there.

The OP did a masterful job on the post, again, thank you, you enabled me to do a project that otherwise I'm not sure I would've successfully done.

Joel
 

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If you are replacing the heater core, may as well just replace the hoses as well. I've always found it next to impossible to remove the factory hoses and just end up cutting them off. 5/8" heater hose is cheap enough.
 

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If you are replacing the heater core, may as well just replace the hoses as well. I've always found it next to impossible to remove the factory hoses and just end up cutting them off. 5/8" heater hose is cheap enough.


Just keep in mind, anyone with a 4.7 - we have those stupid "hose assemblies" with the aluminum pipes that run across the engine, and they have the short pieces of hose bubble-crimped onto them.. Either have to replace it with all hose and reroute it, or cut the pipes and flare them into barbs to clamp regular hose onto.
 

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great write up. should be helpful next saturday when I finally get to replacing my heater core. I ended up ordering the wrong heater core from amazon, both Amazon and Autozone had incorrect part #.
this is what i ordered
http://www.autozone.com/cooling-heating-and-climate-control/heater-core/spectra-premium-heater-core/dodge/durango-4wd/2001/8-cylinders-n-4-7l-mfi/869571_0_4222/

but after reading this thread I am returning and picking up the correct one at Autozone.

Question for everyone who has done this. how did you go about discharging the AC system an then charging it back up. what am i looking at here in terms of cost and additional labor?

Thanks!
 

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I discharged the incorrect way by pulling the block apart at the firewall. I'll recharge after I replace the O-rings and gasket at the block. I'll draw vacuum and then I'll recharge with r134. I have gauge set and have on my other car, not a tough thing to do. I need to first install a new compressor clutch as mine has a short.
 

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great write up. should be helpful next saturday when I finally get to replacing my heater core. I ended up ordering the wrong heater core from amazon, both Amazon and Autozone had incorrect part #.
this is what i ordered
http://www.autozone.com/cooling-heating-and-climate-control/heater-core/spectra-premium-heater-core/dodge/durango-4wd/2001/8-cylinders-n-4-7l-mfi/869571_0_4222/

but after reading this thread I am returning and picking up the correct one at Autozone.

Question for everyone who has done this. how did you go about discharging the AC system an then charging it back up. what am i looking at here in terms of cost and additional labor?

Thanks!
LEGALLY you have to bring it to a shop and have them discharge it. If you decide to do it the illegal way, make sure nobody sees you. The EPA has a $10,000 bounty on refrigerant violators.

Make sure when you replace the evaporator while you are in there. You don't want to have to do this again in 6 months because the evaporator decided to spite you. Make sure you add the correct amount of oil to the evaporator before installation.

When you're done, bring it back to the shop and have them suck it down. The correct amount of refrigerant you need to put in will be listed on a blue sticker under the hood. It would be somewhere between 36 and 48oz.
 

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I'm hoping I don't pay the "evaporator price", mine looked good but agreed after all that work I should've just replaced but did not. With my luck I'll be pulling apart again in short order. Why the oil to the evaporator and not somewhere else? Another question, does the oil circulate or settle? Does the oil go into suspension with the gas? Always wondered.
 

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Yes good advice on the hoses. I pulled mine off with brute force, then reused. Spent 35 minutes on the side of the road Sunday fixing a leak in one of the hoses. should've gone with new. Those things were locked on there crazy. And with positioning you can't get screwdriver or like in there to loosen up.
 

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Yes the oil does circulate with the gas. That's how the compressor stays lubricated. But the mist is only a fraction of the total oil volume. The rest settles into the major components (evaporator, condenser, compressor, and dryer), relatively equally. When replacing a component it's best to add the replacement oil directly to the new component rather than shooting it into the suction port via an oil charge or syringe, because it prevents the oil from "slugging" in any of the other components until it makes its way to the new one.
 

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New heater core, same smell

UPDATE:
I took out the dash and HVAC box on Saturday only to find out that I had the wrong heater core on hand. 93022 is the correct part # for my 2001 Durango SLT 4x4. It was too late to run to the parts store to get the correct one so I had to stop and pick up the part Sunday morning.
I cleaned out the air box and replaced the heater core and evaporator.
Put everything back together except the one nut behind the engine that was hidden under the heat shield on the firewall.
Turned on the truck and that’s when I noticed the first issue.
Driver side vents were not blowing any air so I think doors on the HVAC system somehow became un-synced. Only the right passenger side will open and close. I hope I can simply remove the stereo and access them from there to fix the issue.

I did the work at my parents’ house and I thought the vents were only issue until I drove home and got that anti-freeze smell again. Turned off the heat and the window started fogging up again. WFT?! No sure what this could be. Faulty core? Or maybe a leak where the aluminum pipes bolt to the heater core? I made sure to tighten that bolt down.

I cleaned out the air box with Lysol so I’m pretty sure it’s not residual smell, or maybe its drawing air in from under the hood and that’s where I get the smell from.
Has anyone encountered a smell after replacing the heater core? Any tips would be appreciated.
 

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nice write up,I was wonder if you can tell me where the vacuum hose hooks up after it goes thru the firewall.I was going to run a new hose thru the firewall but i cant find where it connects to.any help is appreciated,Thanks
 

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Are you talking about that tiny little plastic vacuum hose right by the heater core? If so then that just goes to your climate control knobs. More specifically the dial that changes where the air goes to.
 

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I used your instructions on my 2000 Dodge Durango and was able to replace my heater core and did the evaporator as well. It was partially clogged. I yanked to hard on the bottom duct work that goes across the bottom of the heater core box and had to plastic weld and black gorilla tape it. Thanks for the video. If someone knows they have a bad ac compressor, it is a good time to take care of that as well because of the need to discharge ac and disconnect condensor. I am having a little trouble remembering how the power steering column arms were connected. It took me a couple of days use manual tools--no air gun. Make sure you are able to get the heater core and condensor before starting on the project. Yep, and my driver door wouldn't close--thankfully it was sunny, but the mosquitoes made the job so much fun.
 
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