Mechanics

HEATER CORE?

2002 Land Rover Freelander

Smells problem
2002 Land Rover Freelander 4 cyl Four Wheel Drive Automatic 101000 miles

I discovered that my Land Rover is leaking Anti Freeze into the interior of the vehicle; i.E, drivers side and passenger floorboards. I was wondering as I have had to frequently refill the coolant container with anti freeze. I contacted one mechanic here in Colonial Heights VA who said he could repair it and thought it might be the heater core. Would this be it or is there some other problem that I should prepare my bank account for?
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Etplot
March 4, 2010.



Yes, that's typical of a leaking heater core, however, if the vehicle has air conditioning, there will be a drip pan under the evaporator. That pan has a drain to the outside, between the front wheels. The coolant should be dripping outside. If the drain tube is plugged with debris, look for a 4" long rubber hose with a 90 drgree bend hanging from the firewall. Squeezing that tube often will dislodge the blockage. There is also a wire ring clamp you can squeeze to pull the hose off. Then you can carefully poke a pencil in there to clear the passage. Your mechanic will likely check that drain too.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 4, 2010.
Well, since I am not a mechanic I will attempt to do this; however, I will let my mechanic know and hopefully he can do this. Is a price of approx 500.00 reasonable. Although, I think it is time to trade this thing in.

Tiny
Etplot
Mar 4, 2010.
Your vehicle is out of my area of expertise, but on some cars and trucks, $500.00 would barely get you started with repairs. Many require removal of the steering column and entire dash board to get to the heater box. Then the heater box must be removed and disassembled which includes discharging the air conditioning system and recharging it after reassembly.

I do know there are some Dodge trucks that have heater boxes that can be partially split apart to allow the heater core to be slid in and out, but I wouldn't try to cut corners like that on a customer's truck. I did that on some smashed trucks a friend was rebuilding. There was no need to fear breaking something else by performing this shortcut because we had new parts there if they were needed. Some vehicles are designed with future serviceability in mind, but most are designed to go together quickly on the assembly line.

Given the high cost of staying in business today, and the labor rates repair shops have to charge, unless someone else tells you different, I think $500.00 is very resonable for this repair, and it's not a reason onto itself to get rid of a vehicle if it hasn't given you a lot of other trouble. Just because a vehicle is newer doesn't mean it is more reliable.

It might help to know too that dealers and most independent repair shops use a " flat rate" guide. That's a book that lists every vehicle and every labor operation and the hours the job should take. They charge you and pay the mechanic for that many hours to do the work. If he is very experienced, has received lots of training, or has invested in many dollars worth of specialty tools, he can get the job done faster. You pay the same amount and he can move on to the next job sooner. If he runs into a problem, or worse yet, he causes a problem due to carelessness, he has to fix any mistakes, and he has to do over any procedures he didn't do correctly, but you still pay the same amount. That's the checks and balances between speed and efficiency, and carelessness.

Any shop that uses flat rate should bill you for the same number of hours. Only their hourly labor charge will vary. Some shops just pay their mechanics by the hour to stop them from trying to save time by cutting corners, but they may still use the flat rate guide to charge you a fair amount for the job, even if it takes them longer than the book says it should.

That is another advantage of the flat rate guide. It allowed them to give you a fair estimate for repairs without first knowing how long it will actually take them.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 4, 2010.
I tried looking for the hose; but, couldn't find it. However, I did find antifreeze residue in the heater vents that are directly behind the radio.I am really hoping that they won't have to take too much of the dash apart. Any suggestions.I did vacuum up the the excess antifreeze which was quite a bit. Thank you

Tiny
Etplot
Mar 4, 2010.
The coolant could be spraying out of the leak rather than dripping straight down into the drain pan. Also, there is no pan if your vehicle doesn't have air conditioning.

Were you quoted $500.00 for the repair or is that a number you picked? If they quoted you that amount, they should already know what is involved in replacing the heater core. 500 bucks would suggest it's only going to take three to four hours for the repair if the ac system doesn't have to be discharged. That's not enough time to completely remove the dash unless they've done it before and know exactly which tools to grab and where every bolt and fastener are hidden.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 4, 2010.
The vehicle does have a/c; although I didn't see any pan. I was unable to jack it up to really crawl underneath.
The 500.00 was from a chain repair shop here in Colonial Heights VA and he stated between 500-600 to include an oil change. He told me that he would need the car all day.
I vaccuumed quite a bit up off the floor when I discovered that there was a large amount of residue in the vents; and, it looked like the vents go up into teh heater area into a device that was oval and resembled that of a large fan.

Tiny
Etplot
Mar 5, 2010.
Apparently I confused you. The pan is inside the heater box, not under the car. There must be a drip pan with an air conditioning system. The goal of the ac system is to lower air temperature only 20 degrees. The real comfort comes from removing the humidity. The cold surface of the evaporator in the dash causes the humidity to condense and run down into the pan. From there it drains onto the ground. That's why you'll see a puddle form under the car in the summer. When the drain tube plugs with leaves, dirt, or mouse nest parts, the pan will fill up and overflow onto the floor, usually on the passenger side.

A secondary benefit of that drip pan is slowly leaking coolant will usually also find its way to it and drain onto the ground. It could be the placement of the pan in relationship to the heater core, or, as I suggested earlier, it could be the pressurized coolant is spraying out and landing somewhere where the pan can't catch it. That could be why you're finding coolant on the vents.

The " all day" part makes perfect sense, but for the average car, $500.00 is not bad.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Mar 5, 2010.