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Discussion Starter #1
Unfortunately, my worst fears have come true. Been smelling a faint antifreeze smell inside my Daytona at times. The other day I turned the heat on and took a look to find it is indeed dripping a bit into the carpet, just behind the radio / heater controls stack.

I've read some horrid things about the job. I do have fully functioning air conditioning in the car. My biggest question is if there is ANY way at all to remove the heater core without opening up the A/C system. I honestly wouldn't be opposed cutting open and then re-sealing the heater box if I could get the core out that way. It's against my better judgement to do that, but I really REALLY want to avoid opening the A/C system, especially when it has been serving me so well.

Any thoughts? Also, any thoughts on it making through another winter before I need to do the replacement? Like I said, it is dripping at this time, but only appears to do so when the heat is on. At other times, I only smell antifreeze from the vents occasionally.

Thanks,

-Steve
 

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I'm dreading this, too, as on a few occasions I've had a very, very faint whiff of antifreeze in my Daytona.

I know that someone here, perhaps John Wood, cut a heater box open to get at the core. Not sure if that means he got past the evaporator without removing it. But on this old a car, as long as you're in there, it makes sense to change the evaporator out, too. The part is about $45 to $80, depending on brand.

Whether you have R12 or R134a, if the system is otherwise in good repair, the two refrigerants are now nearly the same in price, due to dropped demand for R12.

You can postpone the repair by buying a small straight length of plastic or copper tubing and bypassing the heater core underhood. I carry a plastic tube for this purpose in my glovebox.
 

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Even if you do find a way to R&R the heater core without disturbing the AC system, it is a time consuming, detailed job. It requires removing the dash to obtain access to the HVAC box where the heater core and evaporator are located. I agree with Bob - if you do go to the trouble of tackling this job, might as well replace the evaporator while you're in there. Of course, that will mean evacuating the freon from the system by a professional - it cannot be legally released to the atmosphere.

I had a '92 Acclaim that had the heater core develop a leak at 300K miles. As Bob suggested, I connected the heater hoses together, bypassing the core. Of course, this meant no heat and I ended up driving the car for 6 weeks in the dead of winter (January 2003) until I could remedy the problem. My "fix" was to purchase a '90 Acclaim with a working heater core and eventually junked the '92. I just did not have the time nor funds to R&R the heater core on the '92. In the end it was cheaper to buy the '90 than to fix the '92.

Good luck!
 

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im actually doing this right now, well not hacking it off but i actually just got the hvac system out not an hour ago.

and heres what i can say

the way the heater core is embedded into the cluster limits any means of hacking it out without removing the whole system. the way everything is kinda compacted into that small space makes things kinda one way only
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well shoot... looks like I'll have to bite the bullet and evac the A.C. Which means this will probably have to wait until next year, unfortunately. Anyone know what it would cost to have the refrigerant recovered, and then the system pumped down after I do the replacement?

I'll be sure to bring along a length of hose just in case. I just hope it makes it through another winter, gets pretty darn cold up here...
 

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You won't need extra hose, just a connector to go between them. I don't know what diameter hoses are on your car, but they're either 5/8 or 3/4. Bob L will be able to tell you, I'm sure.
 

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Yup, 5/8". In the HELP! section of the auto parts stores, they sell a plastic connector. You only need that, a screwdriver and then water to fix it while on the road.
 

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I have heard of at least 2 cases where that plastic 5/8" hose splice connector has cracked or split in half. If you are unable to find a metal barbed one (try NAPA), buy 2 of the plastic ones in case one breaks while you are out on the road away from home.

I guess as an alternative, you could temporarily reconnect the hoses back up to the slightly leaking heater core if the plastic splice breaks.

As a side note: I have never cut or modified the HVAC box in attempt to change the heater core. I did monitor some posts where someone was able to change the core in an old minivan by drilling holes in the firewall to gain access to the retaining screws that help hold the core in. Unfortunately on most of the EEK cars, there is 1 screw on the bottom of the heater core that can not be accessed, so you pretty much have to evacuate the AC unit and pull the HVAC box out.
 
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