How to Replace a 2002 Cavalier Heater Core

by Robert Bayly
itstillruns article image
Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

The 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier was offered in a two-door coupe and a four-door sedan. The heater core on your Cavalier is a miniature radiator that absorbs heat from the engine coolant. The blower fan sends air through the heater core and distributes warm air to the passenger compartment and the windshield defroster through the various vents and ducts in the dash.

Step 1

Park the Cavalier on a paved, level surface and set the parking brake. Make sure the heater control is turned off. Use a ratchet and socket to disconnect the negative battery cable.

Step 2

Follow the heater hoses in the engine compartment to the spot on the passenger side of the firewall where the hoses connect to the heater core. Slide a drain pan on the ground under this area.

Step 3

Use a slotted screwdriver to loosen the hose clamps. Make note of the position of the hoses so you can put them back on the right fitting when you replace the core. Remove one of the hoses by twisting and pulling on it. When the hose comes off a small amount of coolant may pour out of the heater core fitting and the hose. Hold the hose straight up so is above the level of the radiator. Wad up a plastic shopping bag and stuff part of it into the hose. Fold the rest of the bag over the end of the hose, then place a zip tie over the bag, about 1/2 an inch over the hose. Tighten the zip tie. Repeat the process for the other hose. Remove the drain pan.

Step 4

Move to the passenger's side of the passenger compartment. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the two screws that hold on the lower dash panel, below the glove box. You will see a yellow electrical connector. Pull apart this connector to deactivate the passenger side airbag. Open the glove box door and remove the three screws along the top of the glove box with a Phillips screwdriver. Pull the glove box out part way and disconnect the glove box light switch. Remove the glove box to expose the heater core cover.

Step 5

Pull off the two round, flexible ducts from the heater core cover. Remove the two screws from the front cover using a Phillips screwdriver. Look on the bottom of the cover. Find and remove the two bolts with a ratchet socket, one on the edge of the cover and one in the middle. Pull down and out to remove the cover and expose the heater core.

Step 6

Remove the bolts from the heater core clamps located at each end of the heater core, using a ratchet and socket. Remove the clamps. Lower the front of the heater core and pull the core away from the firewall, keeping the hose fittings pointed up so that you will not spill any coolant. Remove the heater core from the vehicle.

Step 7

Angle the heater core up into position, guiding the hose fittings through the holes in the firewall. Install and tighten the heater core clamps at the ends of the core. Reattach the cover and tighten the bolts on the bottom and front of the cover. Attach the two flexible ducts to the cover.

Step 8

Reinstall the glove box. Plug in the connector for the glove box light. Install and tighten the screws in the top of the glove box. Reconnect the yellow electrical connector for the airbag. Replace the lower dash panel and screws.

Step 9

Move to the engine compartment. Remove the zip ties and plastic bags from one of the heater hoses and push the hose onto its fitting. Tighten the hose clamp. Repeat for the other hose. Reconnect the negative battery cable. Start the engine and turn on the heater. Check for leaks. You will have to check your coolant level and add coolant as necessary because the new core is going to be filled with coolant.

More Articles

article divider