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RAV-4 heater core

A good friend of mine has a Toyota RAV-4, 2004-2005 model, that needs a new heater core. Apparently the entire dash has to come out, shop wants $1000 to do this job…He doesn’t have a grand lying around right now…Anybody know any short-cuts or work-a-rounds for this job?

Here in Minnesota we’re hitting 70 degrees this next week.

So if your friend can live without heat. you can remove both heater hoses from the firewall and connect them together. Now you’ve removed the leaking heater core out of the cooling system.


Yeah, he is in Denver and the need for heat is fading fast…Plus, it has a rear heater which works okay…The main problem here is the defroster not working…I’ll suggest bypassing the hoses, which may be easier said than done. By next winter it will probably be someone else’s problem…

You would think by now, they could design a heater core that did not cost $1000 to replace. The shop quoted him 9 hours labor…

There are a few vehicles out there that allow access to the heater core without removing the dash

I can think of a few GM vans and trucks which have a heater core “access panel”

But generally speaking, replacing a heater core involves many hours of labor removing the dash

If the core just is plugged, why not just flush the core to clear it. If it leaks, I guess you’ll just have to bypass it or spend the money on replacing it.

I’ve flushed a few cores without any problems, using a little pump that attaches to a hand drill, some clear hose, and a little limeaway.
Before everyone here thinks that the core will disolve…I tested limeaway with an old piece from a core and it was un-noticable that anything other than the deposit buildup was affected aftewr soaking for 3 hours. So it should be safe to flush a core for 30 minutes.
If the core leaks after the flushing…all you wasted was some time. you would have replaced the core anyway.