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Technical jibberish

i am trying to replace the heating core of my 95 chevy 5.7liter g20 cargo van. it leaks fluid inside the car in front of the passenger seat. i bought a fix-it manual from advance auto parts for instructions, but they don’t really make any sense. i don’t know what the words mean. there is only one accompanying picture, so i don’t know what other parts, bolts, hoses, screws they are talking about. for added irony, the picture shows the heating core case, which is readily identifiable, with arrows pointing to the obvious screws. i’ve searched online for others giving advice on this, but all the instructions are not very specific on details such as about which hose to pull out. is there anyone who has done this before?

Unfortunately those manuals are not written as “repair guides for dummies” (no offense - I’m talking about that book series). I for one wish they were since I know what you mean about having a hard time navigating them sometimes.

The problem you’ll likely have w/ internet boards is that doing this job tends to be long & complicated so even if one has done one it might take a day to type it all up.

Is it possible to list out some of the “technical jibberish” and then folks can help you sort that out and get you going. Either way, if you haven’t done a lot of work on cars those manuals require some patience. Whenever I’m getting ready to do something new I’ll often look over the manual section several times several days in advance.

You might also try another manual. From Advance you probably got a Haynes. I have a Haynes for one of my cars that is great, but for another one is junk. I’m going to find a Chilton’s instead. You might try shopping around for someone who sells Chilton’s and looking to see if its any better (e.g. more/better pictures or something).

I agree; those manuals are very basic and specification/procedure errors do exist also.

If you don’t want to buy a pricy factory manual and you live in or near a major metro area you might check with the local library reference section about auto repair manuals. Many libraries will carry more detailed manuals such as MOTOR manuals or even the thicker, hard cover Chiltons. The latter is not perfect but are far more detailed than the soft cover books. The soft covers are pretty much bird cage liner IMO.

You learn how to do jobs like heater cores by doing them,getting paid 1 hour for 3 hours invested. You have to look at the big picture and consider it training,just not something you open a book and know.

None of the manuals are good when it comes to this type of work,you usually learn from someone else in the shop and little by little you get better at them.

Use your basic skills,tear into it,you will make mistakes but you will learn from them.You may break a part but you will learn from that also.

Your cargo van is probably pretty easy compared to many vehicles. Heater core replacement is usually a nightmare, most professional mechanics farm it out to a specialist, a rare breed who enjoys working on his back in a puddle of anti-freeze with plastic junk and hidden fasteners. Good Luck…

Instructions are to take the cover off, take the hoses off the little radiator (heater core) and do whatever is necessary to remove it. The hose clamps may be in the engine compartment. Don’t move anything unless it is in the way. That’s all we were taught in trade school. You can always pay the $500 for a mechanic to do it if you have money or have a need to drive. It’s a 95, you can’t do any damage to it.

Here is the procedure from ALLDATA. How does it compare to the information you have?

Drain the engine coolant.
Recover the refrigerant if equipped with heater.
The coolant recovery or surge tank.
The battery from the vehicle.
The heater accumulator if equipped.
The heater hoses from the heater core.
The right kick panel.
The right knee bolster.
The outer floor air outlet duct.
The retaining screws from the heater case.
CAREFULLY open the heater core access door to obtain retainers.
The retainers from the heater core.
The heater core from the vehicle.
Install or Connect

The heater core to the vehicle.
The retainers to the heater core.
CAREFULLY close the heater core access door.
The retaining screws to the heater case.
The outer floor air outlet duct.
The right knee bolster.
The right kick panel.
The heater hoses to the heater core.
The heater accumulator if equipped.
The battery to the vehicle.
The coolant recovery or surge tank.
Charge the A/C system if equipped.
Fill the engine coolant.

Step 2 is sounds strange to me. If the vehicle was equipped with just a heater, why would it have refrigerant?

Does the van have AC? It’s refering to the refrigerent in the AC system. On vehicles with AC you might have to disconnect the AC and remove the evaporator to gain access to the heater core.

Thanks for your reply.

I will take your advice and post the parts that are unclear and ask people’s help to clear it up. I’ll do that after I visit the library and see some more manuals.

Thank you again.

Hey that actually makes me feel a lot better about it - just knowing that it’s going to be a headache gives me a heads-up not to rush the thing and be patient.


That is really good news b/c I was concerned about doing something worse than the problem that I have now. I don’t have the $500, so this will just be schooling for me. Also, “do whatever is necessary to remove it” is a good way of putting it. I guess I was trying to follow instructions to the letter and maybe that’s not the best route.

Thanks for your reply.

Thank you for your replies.

Yes these instructions are very close to what I have. The van does have a/c.

I’ll see some more manuals, but I’m gonna dive right in and see what I can do. I’ll get back on here if I run into trouble. Here goes nuth’n!

You stated that the van is equipped with A/C and the proceedures stated you need to recover the refrigerant. It sounds like the A/C system will need to be opened up in order to do what you want to do. You should have a shop do this before you start tearing things apart. I doubt that you will have the things needed to recover the refrigerant and it is illegal to vent the gas to the atmosphere.

I wish you well in this repair. It is one of the hardest auto repair jobs there is in my opinion.