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1999 Volvo S70

Hi, I own a Volvo S70. Love Love my car. My water pump has a “minor” small leak. So, my mechanic mentions that I should change the timing belt while he’s at it, and Oh, I smell “heater core” too. OK. I looked into my records and I had my timing belt and my heater core replaced at 172,906 in June of 2010. What would you do, if you were me. Is there a way to test the heater core? Should the dude (sorta shady, don’t want to go to him anymore to fix my car) replace the part? Help, I’m not sure what to do. Thanks so much for any advice.

Oh, sorry, I have 179,000 miles on it now.

No, do not let the “dude” replace any parts. And don’t go back to him.

Yes, the easy way to test your heater core is to turn on the heat next time you’re driving, and run the heater fan full blast, with all the hot air blowing onto the windshield. if the heater core is leaking, you’ll see an oily film start to develop on the windshield where the hot air blows on it. No oily film = no heater core leak. (The oily film would be antifreeze leaking out of the heater core and being vaporized onto the windshield). Sometimes you can also smell a heater core leak, as a sweet smell. But the oily film on the windshield is always proof positive.

Usually the best time to replace a water pump is when you have the timing belt changed. But since you missed that window, the pump can be changed on its own. No need to replace the timing belt, since it’s practically new.

Click the “Mechanics File” tab on this website to find a recommended mechanic in your area. Do no return to the “dude.” And go to to get an estimate of what a new water pump should cost for your car, in your area.

When they replaced your timing belt, did they not replace your water pump? They really should as that is proper preventive maintenance. They might as well, while they are there because it is easy to do. If they didn’t, they are not very good.
If they did, seems to me they may have made a mistake somewhere. Maybe they didn’t tighten things or use the inproper sealing compound on the gasket. Or maybe the pump they put in was bad. Those things shouldn’t fail in that short of a time.
The heater core is the part inside the cabin, under the dash. What did he say what the reason is for that to be needing replacement. It seems unlikely, unless of course the first mechanic messed that up as well…

If you’re uncomfortable with this guy, get another quote. Are you sure the waterpump is leaking? Maybe the hose going to it just needs to be snugged up.

Maybe you have a hose leak on the heater core. Possibly a drip running down the line from elsewhere into the ventilation system. It is possible too that the mechanic charged a heater core and instead put in a stop leak product on your old core.

Thank you all so much!