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How to Remove a Heater Core in a 1997 Dodge Caravan

by David Marsh

The Caravan sends hot coolant to a small part that acts as a reverse radiator. It takes in heat from the coolant and sends it into the passenger compartment. This part, called the heater core, can leak. It is much easier and cheaper to replace it than repair it, and the replacement is something you can do with just a few tools.

Remove the Heater Core

Step 1

Raise the car with the floor jack and lower it onto the jack stands.

Step 2

Drain the coolant from the radiator by removing the drain plug and allowing the coolant to drain into a pan. Replace the drain plug.

Step 3

The heater hoses in a Dodge Caravan lead from the engine compartment through the firewall. Remove them by undoing the spring clamps with the pliers and moving them back along the hose.

Step 4

The heater core is located on the passenger side. Remove the panels and the dashboard. These parts can be pulled out, however, some Caravans have a single screw in the dashboard.

Step 5

Protect the carpets from coolant spillage by laying down towels.

Step 6

You'll find the heater core assembly behind the glove box. Remove the heater core cover by unscrewing the four screws that hold it in place.

Step 7

Undo the strap around the heater core and remove it. Check the gaskets, o-rings and seals. If they are damaged, replace them. Install the replacement heater core.

Step 8

Replace the heater core cover, the dashboard and the panels. Reconnect the hoses inside the engine compartment. Lower the vehicle.

Replace the coolant.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Bucket
  • Coolant
  • Air compressor
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Heater core kit

About the Author

In 1990 David Marsh began writing a column in the "Idaho Falls Post-Register" titled "Good Things," which presented restaurant reviews, sports analysis and movie criticism. Besides newspaper columns, Marsh researched police procedures for the Federal government. He has a Bachelor of Arts in administration and a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Utah.

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Photo Credits

  • car heater vent image by robert mobley from