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Replacing heater core in VW Jetta 1994

My heater core started leaking in a big way the other day. I took advise from a car bush doctor, bought a plumbers pipe at home depot, and installed a heater core bi-pass. I have to tell you this part of the story even though it has nothing to do with car repair: tomorrow i will drive this VW for some 7 hours, 400+ miles, with outside temperatures below freezing point. I hope I will be around to read someone’s response there after.

Back to car issues: I am looking for all ways to get in their and change that heater core. I definitely do not have the patience of taking out the dash board, instrument panel and what not as many people say you have to. I am holding my hopes on instructions given by others, to the effect that you can actually find your way to the heater core by taking out the mesh-styled sheet that rests under (and between) the windshield and the hood. My question is, does this strategy work on the Jetta 90? Any insights will be highly appreciated.

I meant Jetta 94.

I’ve never done one on a VW Jetta, but if you don’t have the patience to take the dash apart, I’d farm it out to a mechanic who does have patience. You’ll break something or do a lousy job, and most heater cores I’ve replaced (with the exception of a big, old pickup (which had enough room to climb into the engine bay while working on the truck) are a PIA to get at. The replacement is actually easy . . . your bypass shows that. Hopefully somebody here has already done a Jetta . . .but eventually the core has to get into the passenger compartment through the firewall. Good luck! Rocketman

Good luck on your trip. Can’t you postpone it? It’s REALLY cold out there.

Don’t even attempt this repair without a service manual. There’s only one way to replace a heater core, and that is to follow the instructions in the manual. Some are easier than others, but it’s normal to have to remove at least part of the dashboard. There is NO OTHER WAY. You can’t fudge this.

If you aren’t willing to do it correctly, pay someone else to do it for you.

Thanks rocketman and mcparadise,

I just made it through my 400 miles. It was no fun. In daylight the cold was merely an inconvenience , but after sun set it was torture. If I do not get that heater core fixed by a mechanic for my reverse trip (in which case I will be driving another car back), I will take the challenge of replacing this one some day. I just need to be sure of my instructions. I have a repair manual (Robert Bentley), but I have often found it to not be specific to the car (even though it is indicated for the car), so I hope to find someone who has actually performed the task on this car model.