How much does it cost to replace a heater core?

Answer

The national average cost to replace a heater core is between $558 and $728 as of May 2014, according to RepairPal. Of this cost, $95 to $142 is the cost of parts, and the remainder the cost for labor.

Signs of heater core failure include leaks under the dash, steam from vents when heat is on and insufficient heating of the cabin of the vehicle. Passengers may note a sweet antifreeze smell if the heater core develops leaks. Over time, leaking coolant causes carpets to mildew and rot. The moisture also leads to corrosion of the metal floor of the vehicle.

Original-equipment heater cores for most vehicles are made of aluminum. It is lighter in weight and longer-lasting than the copper cores that older-generation vehicles use. However, copper has the advantage of lower cost and better heat exchange. A copper heater core has a life expectancy of 5 years or 50,000 miles.

AutoPartsWarehouse rates this job as "easy to moderate" for the vehicle owner wishing to save money by doing the work himself. It requires the appropriate socket wrench, the new heater core, a gallon of coolant and plastic sheeting or trays to catch any coolant leaking from the old core when disconnecting it from the cooling system. However, some heater cores are more difficult to access than others.

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