99 Toyota rav coolant leak (heater core housing unit intake) & clunk in driver side front end concerns on important immment trip

I am pretty profusely leaking coolant from (the intake?) of my housing heater core unit. I am not a good YouTube mechanic but am trying to learn. How easy is this to fix with everyday tools and minuim $ (almost none) before a NEEEDED IMMEDIATE TRIP FROM MO TO MT… AND WOULD IT BE EASIER TO JUST KEEP FILING MY RADIATOR DURING MY NEXT FEW DAY TRIP?? Also, a “clunk and odd drifting in steering” problem was though to have been resolved when I replaced the non existant stabilizer bar bushing (driver front end 4 Dr gas) was thought to have fixed problem but am still experiencing, troubleshooting; the “end links” appear still connected but jiggly, so what / where should I look or work on now… And how imminent of danger may this be on said TRIP if not resolved… Any advice besides a mechanic (no $$$) would be amazing and appreciated… Thanks y’all more knowledgeable ppl…

You can temporarily by pass the heater core. I would strongly advise to not drive with a known leak. While you may feel you have it under control it will leak worse at the worst time far from a water source. https://www.rav4world.com/threads/heater-core-bypass.296049/. Once you have more time or money you can replace the leaking components. Heater cores are a PITA to replace,

I would not drive at all with the steering problem. No low cost suggestion here, I would not drive it until someone with knowledge and experience ( independent mechanic) looked at it and fixed it.

My gut tells me this 21 year old car has other troubles known to you or waiting to surprise you on a long trip.


Replace them ASAP. This repair is very inexpensive and your vehicule will feel tighter.

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Taking a bus would be a better idea.

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Is that still an option other than city bus’s I have not seen a bus like a greyhound for year’s?

Yes. Greyhound runs nationwide.


My Lord, yes. I work half a mile from the St. Louis Greyhound station. Amtrak is a possibility as well. Or a one way rental. A 2020 Elantra cost me $111 for two days and there are few car repairs that cheap.

Nice to know greyhound is still around I guess they have changed routes over the year’s as they don’t come through my area any more but I do see the Amtrak train’s go through.

Don’t mess around with steering and suspension problems - one failed link and you’re into oncoming traffic, or a tree. Have a well rated professional fix it asap, and at the same time get a full safety inspection. Avoid the franchise shops for things like this, check the Mechanics Files on the Car Talk site for local shop recommendations or just take it to the dealership where they may charge you more but will use proper parts.

Leaks could be anything from a loose hose connection, cracked nipple (the thing the hose connects to), cracked plastic end tank, leaking end tank to heater core seal, or corroded core. All but the first require replacing the radiator, easier on some cars than others, but you’ll need to do it. While at it replace all pressurized rubber and other cooling system plastic over ~ 8 years old - this includes all hoses and, depending on the car, the overflow bottle (only if pressurized), pressure cap, plastic heater valve, etc. You might think about the accessory (or serpentine) belts, thermostat, water pump, the timing belt (if you have one) if it’s nearing the sooner of its time or mileage. Good quality aftermarket radiators exist (also bad ones), but you may be able to save money over Toyota’s.

A lot is going to depend on where the OP is coming from and where he’s going. Missouri to Montana isn’t very specific.

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