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Cooling system help please

 
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Old 22 Feb 2019, 08:24 pm
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Kansas
Posts: 17
Default Cooling system help please

Hey all, I ran into a situation and need some advice and info. I've got an 07 PT Cruiser Touring with around 85k miles that the wife and i both really like, but over the past year it seems like the car has stopped liking us.

It started with little things like intermittent heat, window control switch going bad, then escalated to lower control arms needing replaced on both sides (that project turned into a nightmare requiring a new CV shaft on the driver's side due to operator brain malfunction, and taking it to a shop to do the passenger arm), then wheel bearings (back to the shop because after the control arm mishap the wife didn't trust my mechanical skills).

Things were fine from July until a couple weeks ago, when about 200 miles into a 250 mile drive the windshield suddenly fogged over and my heart sunk when I got a whiff of that sticky sweet antifreeze.. I confirmed the heater core leak when I got to the hotel, and a couple days later the 3 and a half hour drive home turned into more like 6 hours, because I had to keep pulling over to check/refill the coolant and scrape the inside and outside of the windows, since it just so happens that this happened on the day the weather in Kansas turned arctic!

Fast forward 2 weeks and I'm standing on my head in the drivers side floorboard, covered in coolant from the chest up, because I decided that it wasn't necessary to take the whole dash apart when there's a plastic cover over the end of the core, and once I get the pipes off it should slide right out.. Which it did, but I gimped up the o-rings/seals/whatever they're called when I tried to attach the pipes to the new core. Finally decided to bypass the core for a while and order new seals.

Two cold, snow filled, freezing rainy days with no heater later I thought I was going to have to buy another core just to get the seals and clamps, then I found out the heater core is the same one as in certain years and models of VWs Audis and Mini Coopers, likely others too. since I couldn't find a seal kit for my car, I searched for those. Bingo! Found it on amazon, paid for 2 day shipping and finished that up this afternoon! After I got it all screwed back together we pressure tested the system. Everything under the hood was fine, but we couldn't get more than 5-6 pounds of pressure with the hand pump. Attached the air compressor and got it up to 12 pounds, and finally found the reason we couldn't get it that high before. Radiator leak over there by the battery.

Too late to get a new radiator, and no money for that anyway right now, so I put in some Bar's Leaks. I don't care for stop leak, I'd rather do the job properly, but it's our only vehicle, and I plan to replace the radiator so temporary fix will do.

Now my questions.
1. After the ordeal with the core, how difficult is the radiator to remove and reinstall? Should i fork over the $400 the shop quoted me for the job? Is it supposed to be an all day job too? Last one i did was an old 69 Buick and took maybe an hour.
2. Regarding the heater core, would it have been OK to just omit the bent metal pipes going from the firewall to the core and replace them with heater hose and house clamps?
3. How long can I wait to replace the radiator and do a flush & fill to get the stop leak out?
4. I know HOAT is recommended, and it doesn't play well with other types, but since I haven't got another vehicle to drive, is it a bad idea to just get a bottle of universal to refill the radiator with when it needs it for maybe a week or two? I see pouring the HOAT in just for it to leak out getting ridiculously expensive fast.
5. Do I need to go with the $200 Mopar one on rockauto, or is the $70 Spectra a good alternative?

Thanks in advance!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 22 Feb 2019, 10:10 pm
808PTcruiser's Avatar
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Honolulu , HI
Posts: 91
Default Re: Cooling system help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razzle346 View Post
Hey all, I ran into a situation and need some advice and info. I've got an 07 PT Cruiser Touring with around 85k miles that the wife and i both really like, but over the past year it seems like the car has stopped liking us.

It started with little things like intermittent heat, window control switch going bad, then escalated to lower control arms needing replaced on both sides (that project turned into a nightmare requiring a new CV shaft on the driver's side due to operator brain malfunction, and taking it to a shop to do the passenger arm), then wheel bearings (back to the shop because after the control arm mishap the wife didn't trust my mechanical skills).

Things were fine from July until a couple weeks ago, when about 200 miles into a 250 mile drive the windshield suddenly fogged over and my heart sunk when I got a whiff of that sticky sweet antifreeze.. I confirmed the heater core leak when I got to the hotel, and a couple days later the 3 and a half hour drive home turned into more like 6 hours, because I had to keep pulling over to check/refill the coolant and scrape the inside and outside of the windows, since it just so happens that this happened on the day the weather in Kansas turned arctic!

Fast forward 2 weeks and I'm standing on my head in the drivers side floorboard, covered in coolant from the chest up, because I decided that it wasn't necessary to take the whole dash apart when there's a plastic cover over the end of the core, and once I get the pipes off it should slide right out.. Which it did, but I gimped up the o-rings/seals/whatever they're called when I tried to attach the pipes to the new core. Finally decided to bypass the core for a while and order new seals.

Two cold, snow filled, freezing rainy days with no heater later I thought I was going to have to buy another core just to get the seals and clamps, then I found out the heater core is the same one as in certain years and models of VWs Audis and Mini Coopers, likely others too. since I couldn't find a seal kit for my car, I searched for those. Bingo! Found it on amazon, paid for 2 day shipping and finished that up this afternoon! After I got it all screwed back together we pressure tested the system. Everything under the hood was fine, but we couldn't get more than 5-6 pounds of pressure with the hand pump. Attached the air compressor and got it up to 12 pounds, and finally found the reason we couldn't get it that high before. Radiator leak over there by the battery.

Too late to get a new radiator, and no money for that anyway right now, so I put in some Bar's Leaks. I don't care for stop leak, I'd rather do the job properly, but it's our only vehicle, and I plan to replace the radiator so temporary fix will do.

Now my questions.
1. After the ordeal with the core, how difficult is the radiator to remove and reinstall? Should i fork over the $400 the shop quoted me for the job? Is it supposed to be an all day job too? Last one i did was an old 69 Buick and took maybe an hour.
2. Regarding the heater core, would it have been OK to just omit the bent metal pipes going from the firewall to the core and replace them with heater hose and house clamps?
3. How long can I wait to replace the radiator and do a flush & fill to get the stop leak out?
4. I know HOAT is recommended, and it doesn't play well with other types, but since I haven't got another vehicle to drive, is it a bad idea to just get a bottle of universal to refill the radiator with when it needs it for maybe a week or two? I see pouring the HOAT in just for it to leak out getting ridiculously expensive fast.
5. Do I need to go with the $200 Mopar one on rockauto, or is the $70 Spectra a good alternative?

Thanks in advance!
Sorry for you troubles.. Iím sure there will be wiser people to chime in here, but this is what I would do;
1. I do my own work, so I wouldnít take it to the shop and I would save money, timewise, depending on a skill level and tools you have it might take you 3-6 hrs I would say 3 if you not in a hurry and take your time and good half a day if you have no idea what are doing 😂 donít forget some ATF for transmission just in case to top it off (unless you have external transmission radiator installed)
2.bent pipes at the heater? How bad? I wouldnít chance it, because if you bent it, it means you put stress somewhere else and that opens opportunity to fail)
3.no idea
4. I used 50/50 green for few years and I havenít noticed anything different
5. Iím sure Mopar is the best option, but some aftermarket radiators make good product as well, personality I would go with cheaper one - what can I say, Iím on a cheap side...
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Old 22 Feb 2019, 10:58 pm
808PTcruiser's Avatar
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Location: Honolulu , HI
Posts: 91
Default Re: Cooling system help please

Forgot to mention, you should completely flush cooling system if switching coolants. Iím sure Iíll be condemned here for even daring to say that I use regular 50/50 instead of magical powers filled HOAT, but like I said before, thatís what I would do, I donít tell anyone what to do.
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Old 23 Feb 2019, 12:28 am
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Kansas
Posts: 17
Default Re: Cooling system help please

From one cheapskate to another, I dig it. I try to do most of the work myself, but sometimes things get out of hand, and end up beyond my skill level. 3 to 6 hours isn't all that bad. As long as I take my time and follow the steps.

I might have not been clear about the bent pipes.. I didn't bend them, they came that way. I'll attach a picture.

I'm thinking once the stop leak is in there, it's there to stay, but if somebody can say otherwise I'll listen.

I'd rather replace the coolant with the regular universal cheap stuff if it's going to keep leaking for a bit so I'm happy to hear you say you haven't seen any issues with it.

I don't know how accurate this is but I've always thought you pay extra for the name on some things, and OE parts is one of them.

Thanks for your input!
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Old 23 Feb 2019, 12:56 am
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Honolulu , HI
Posts: 91
Default Re: Cooling system help please

I misunderstood about pipes, Iím not sure if you can clamp them securely, you can try. My concern would be if they stay on with all vibrations. I donít think thereís would be a problem except if you need to replace a hose, you have dive under the dash again. Then again, it would be awhile before that happened if you go with new hoses.
Now the coolant, I have na 2008 had green stuff for about 6 years, flushed it once, no sediment, brown stuff or anything, also coolant temp gauge sits right below half point, no overheating or anything, I just bought 2006 gt, flushed it with green stuff when I did timing belt, no problems for 2 weeks now, I live in Honolulu, so it gets warm here
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Old 23 Feb 2019, 01:48 am
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Join Date: Dec 2017
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Default Re: Cooling system help please

One thing that struck me was the videos I watched, threads I read, and even instructions I saw pointed to the heater core being right up against the firewall with the hoses clamped directly to it, one video even showed the guy cut a hole through the firewall and took the core out from the engine side. Apparently they changed the layout for the 06 and up models, moving it away from the firewall and right behind the dash and adding the plastic screw on cover. The service manual I have doesn't show that. It might have made things easier if I'd had up to date instructions! 😂
Perhaps I should have made a quick trip to the library when I first saw the difference.
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Old 23 Feb 2019, 02:00 am
808PTcruiser's Avatar
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Honolulu , HI
Posts: 91
Default Re: Cooling system help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razzle346 View Post
One thing that struck me was the videos I watched, threads I read, and even instructions I saw pointed to the heater core being right up against the firewall with the hoses clamped directly to it, one video even showed the guy cut a hole through the firewall and took the core out from the engine side. Apparently they changed the layout for the 06 and up models, moving it away from the firewall and right behind the dash and adding the plastic screw on cover. The service manual I have doesn't show that. It might have made things easier if I'd had up to date instructions! 😂
Perhaps I should have made a quick trip to the library when I first saw the difference.
I see that in a picture, but did you found out what was leaking? Was it orings or core itself? I wonder maybe you didnít need to buy heater core to begin with
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Old 23 Feb 2019, 02:03 am
808PTcruiser's Avatar
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Posts: 91
Default Re: Cooling system help please

I wonder if they made that change in 06 to make it easier to service it 🤔, from what it sounds itís not that easy going for you ...
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Old 23 Feb 2019, 02:12 am
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Default Re: Cooling system help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808PTcruiser View Post
I see that in a picture, but did you found out what was leaking? Was it orings or core itself? I wonder maybe you didnít need to buy heater core to begin with
Initially it was the core. Once I got that swapped out and somebody tore the orings it wouldn't seal at the necks.
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Old 23 Feb 2019, 04:11 am
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Location: Darien, IL | Forest Park, IL
Posts: 3,519
Default Re: Cooling system help please

anybody try the $54 radiator

Mine was very easy, but I didn't have automatic trans lines to mess with
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