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Accord heater core decision time

1999, 2.3L Auto with 243,000 on it. Properly maintained, car owned since 2008. Overall good condition. This has been a great car and suited my needs well.

I am In the market for a new Accord. I am having trouble finding the specific color and trim level I want, so I am just being patient in the mean time.

The heater is failing in this vehicle. It will output some kinda warm air but doesn’t get satisfyingly hot. Having a mild winter where I am (KY) so luckily haven’t been freezing to death. Independent mechanic diagnosed the heater core as failing and will cost about $800 bucks. It’s a huge / all day job on this car.

My plan is to sell it via private party when I find my replacement car. Now I am trying to decide between the following options:

A. Even though I’d rather not - spend the $800, be warm and happy while I continue patiently searching for the new one, and hopefully, get top dollar for this car when it comes time to sell. KBB in “good” condition is around $1500.

B. Hang on to my $800, perhaps be a little cold and have to bundle up on the road, and after I fully disclose the state of the heater to a potential buyer, let them make an offer on it as is and potentially accept less $ for it than I hoped for.

Financially speaking, 800 bucks isn’t going to make, or break me at this point and I understand that this situation is a little bit of a wash either way. I know some of this is purely subjective too, like how willing I am to be cold if it gets REALLY cold.

Just curious what you guys would do?

If the heater core is not leaking, a coolant flush may help, could be air trapped in the system or a bad thermostat. Have a temp guage? If so is it getting up to temp? Second opinion suggested. If you are looking at used I would say stay with the trouble you know.

Coolant and thermostat have been changed recently. Car gets up to, and remains at operating temp.

Missed the 243k miles first read, yup time to move on!

Before deciding, I’d take it to a radiator specialty shop and get their opinion. They may have a way to revive the heater core. If not, one idea I’d consider if this were my car is to buy a replacement core at your local junkyard for small change. Don’t install it. Instead see if you can rig up a mounting method so if functions and heats the car, but isn’t in it’s normal location. A heater core isn’t rocket science after all, just one hose in, and one hose out. Then when it comes time to sell the car, don’t treat it as a downside. Explain to the buyer that you are doing them a good deed by providing them an extra heater core as part of the deal, for free, b/c you’ve noticed the current one doesn’t heat so well, and expect they’ll want to replace it at some point.

I seriously doubt you could get $1500 even on a private sale with working heater. If you fix it at least you will have heat if you get caught in one of those hours long traffic jams they are showing on the news.

In my neck of the woods people would gladly pay $1500 for that car, with a working heater

Those older Accords and Camrys are still being driven in large numbers, and the owners have no plans of selling them

It is sometimes possible to flush out the sediment in the heater core with a water hose. You will have a hard time finding anyone willing to fool around with flushing out an old heater core like this, there is risk in causing a leak with the heater core or hoses on an 18 year old car.

If you choose to do nothing it will likely have little effect on market value, people looking for a $1500 car are happy to have transportation and do not focus on things like this.

I agree with George. First get a second opinion from a reputable radiator shop.

The biggest problem I see with bypassing the heater core and driving without is that you’ll lose your defroster/defogger. This can be a serious safety issue.

If the heater core isn’t leaking, then I doubt its the problem. Blend door would be the first thing to check. Next would be the heater hoses, they can swell internally and block coolant flow. While not cheap to replace, they are a lot less expensive than a new heater core. Guessing about $100 total.

I’m curious why you think the heater core is NOT the problem

OP’s car is old enough and has enough miles

I wouldn’t at all doubt the heater core is at least partially plugged by now, especially if the coolant wasn’t changed out at regular intervals

He stated properly maintained. I’ve had heater cores far older than that that still functioned properly.

One thing I didn’t mention though is that I would first bleed the system. Especially since he replaced the thermostat.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think 243,000 miles is too high of miles, unless the rest of the car is shot and rusty. I see plenty 1998-2002 accords with 300,000 miles.

I would shop around for more opinions and get it repaired. if you kept it 6 more months you,ve saved yourself some car payments, higher insurance, and high registration taxes.

my dad just replaced an axle and alternator on his 2003 accord with 255,000 miles. the car looks great and runs well. he’s not ready yet to spend 15k on a newer accord yet.

It’s my opinion that if you go car shopping in desperation the dealers like to eat you as opposed to you having all the time to shop around.

Trouble is, that can mean only oil changes. We’ve no way of knowing.
Younger heater cores have developed flow restrictions in the tubes due to deposition. I’d consider the heater core to be a real possibility with the described symptoms. .The good news is that its flow can be easily tested without removing the core. It can even be flushed out separately from the system.

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OP here. I found my replacement car and I’m selling this one as is. Thanks for everyone’s input.

Sounds like you found a good solution there OP. Best of luck, and thanks for posting back with the final verdict.

I think you have made the right decision, putting $800 on a car with that many miles has questionable return. I am sure the new car will serve you well esp if you keep maintaining it well.

On a similar note, the newer car is also going to be much safer.