How to Replace Civic Heater Coreby Pheori Wiley
The Honda Civic is one of the most popular cars on the road today--the car has a reputation for being of good quality, packed with features and built to last a long time with little or no major maintenance or repairs required. If, however, you need to replace your older Civic's heater core, you should be familiar with the construction of the car's interior before attempting the procedure.
Disconnect the battery cable from the negative side. Wait a full 5 minutes for the car's PRS Air Bag System to discharge. (The manufacturer's recommendation is to wait 3 minutes; waiting 5 minutes will ensure the system is completely discharged.)
Disconnect the air conditioner system by disconnecting the suction line and the receiver line from the compressor; unscrew the retainer nuts that hold them in place using a pair of pliers.
Drain the coolant from the radiator by opening the drain plug on the bottom of the radiator. Use an approved drain pan to collect the coolant and dispose of it in a method compliant with the laws of your community. Remember this substance is poisonous.
Open the cable clamp located under the hood and disconnect the heater control cable. Turn the control valve of the core to the fully open position by hand.
Disconnect the heater hoses from the core housing; squeeze open the hose clamps using a pair of vise grips and remove the mounting wing nut from the heater unit by turning it with your hand until it comes free.
Remove the center console from the interior of the vehicle using the screwdriver. Remove the gear shift knob and disconnect the heat switch connectors (which should just pull out of the switches); front power accessory port and rear power accessory port (which should just pull out of the socket connectors); and illumination power cables (which should simply un-clamp by hand with squeeze connectors).
Remove the lower dashboard panels, driver glove box and center storage pocket using the screwdriver.
Carefully remove the airbag assembly from the steering wheel and the passenger side. The airbags are held in place with spring clamps, which will pop open with mild pressure. Be careful to not apply too much pressure--even a discharged airbag may still deploy if too much shock is applied.
Separate the steering column assembly from the dashboard unit by moving the column to the fully up position. Use a piece of heavy tape to secure the shaft sliding cover onto the steering column while it is removed.
Remove the hoses by opening the spring hose clamps using the vise grips. Remove all remaining wires. Remove the harnesses and retainer bolts using the Phillips screwdriver. Remove the connectors, air bag control computer and center lower covers by squeezing open the hand squeeze clamps. (This may require the assistance of another person.)
Lift the dashboard out slowly and remove it from the vehicle by sliding it out of one of the doors.
Unplug the connectors from the air mix control motor unit, temp sensor, recirculation control motor, heater ducts, power transistor and blower fan unit.
Loosen the heater core cover with the screwdriver and pull the heater core out of the housing unit.
Install the new heater core by inserting it into the housing, then securing it in place with the housing cover using the screwdriver.
Reconnect and reinstall everything you removed in reverse order.
Close the drain valve on the radiator and refill it with fresh coolant. HINT: This would be a great time to perform cooling system maintenance; pick up a flush and fill kit and clean out the engine's cooling system before refilling. You also might want to use a cooling system treatment when you refill, especially if you have an older car.
Test the heating system with normal operation and inspect the whole system for leaks.
Things You'll Need
- Socket wrench and socket set
- Phillips screwdriver
- Vise grips
- Drain pan
- Replacement heater core
- Do not proceed with this project until you are absolutely sure that the air bag system has run out of power; failure to do so can lead to serious injury or damage to the vehicle.
- Take note of the vehicle's anti-theft codes for all advanced electronics; this includes the radio, in-car navigation, and on-board personal computing and assistance system. Since you are disconnecting the power from the battery, these systems will reset to the factory defaults and will need to be unlocked when you restore power to the car's systems.
- Do not attempt this repair unless the warranty has expired--this is one of the systems covered by the car's no touch policy. Unless performed by an authorized repair technician, this procedure will void your Honda warranty.
Pheori Wiley is a freelance writer who has written articles for Helium and Associated Content, among others. She has been writing professionally since 2003 and has used her knowledge of programming, Web development and auto repair to share in her writing what she learns from her day-to-day adventures.