Heater Core Flush Costs [DIY Vs Pro Flush]
If you hate the cold and are sick of stepping out into a freezing morning to start your car, then you have a problem. It is not just that there’s snow on the ground or it’s too early for most people.
In reality, what you need is a heater core flush! The problem with this is that it isn’t exactly easy to do yourself. But, the good news, if done for preventative measures, it’s not too costly.
Flushing your heater core will cost, on average, $84. The lowest price costs closer to $74, while the most expensive flushes cost $100.
The factors that affect the cost of this service include the make and model of your vehicle, the location of where you live, and the auto shop you go to.
Some people may require a heater core flush specifically. This is usually due to a block in the heater core that is affecting the AC output.
However, suppose you are guessing at a blockage or simply trying to maintain your vehicle. In that case, a coolant system block is a better option.
You can save money and flush the entire coolant system for a similar cost of an average of $117, ensuring no old debris mixes with new coolants.
While it may seem like a high price for a straightforward service, it can really affect how your engine runs and even prevent severe damage. Replacing a heater core can cost over $1200.
Installing a new heater core can cost as low as 800$ or cost as much as $1000.
But, again, the price you are subjected to depends on multiple factors, including your area’s labor costs, the make and model of your vehicle, and the auto shot you use.
A clogged or broken heater core can cause other engine issues from the engine running too hot, so you could have many problems down the road if not fixed quickly.
Why Does the Price for a Heater Core Flush Fluctuate?
The national average for a heater core flush is between $79 and $200.
The cost of the coolant is between $10 and $35, depending on the vehicle.
Labor costs can range from $59 to 155$ per hour. This much variation can really affect how much you are charged for a simple flushing service.
Always get an estimate from your mechanic before going through with the job. The costs can vary depending on many things.
Auto shops usually set their own prices, so going from one shop to another in the same city, you may find variations in the cost of the job. Due to areas of the high cost of living, the national average has a large span.
If you call around, you may be able to get a very close ballpark.
The other thing that creates cost variation is the make and model of your vehicle. While these do affect price, they are more minor variations.
Cost of a Radiator Flush
The radiator and the heater core are two different parts of your vehicle. The heater core is specifically focused on providing heat in your vehicle, using the heat from the engine, while the radiator is using the same anti-freeze to keep your vehicle’s engine cool while running.
Flushing one without flushing the other can be done but can also dirty up your new anti-freeze since the fluid runs through both parts.
Replacing a radiator is expensive. The average cost is $660.
The cost of the Flush is equal to that of the heater core flush.
What is the Heater Core in Your Car?
The heater core is in the engine compartment next to your radiator. It’s a small unit that looks like an upside-down “V,” It runs from the bottom of the car on up with coolant running through it.
The heat produced by this little device helps regulate the temperature inside, so if you have any issues with yours, get them fixed asap!
For those who are not mechanically inclined, you may get the heater core and radiator mixed up. The radiator and heater core are similar and even located close together, but these parts have opposing functions.
The heater core is a device that regulates the temperature in your car. On the other hand, the radiator dissipates heat from the engine by air outside the vehicle.
How to Know If Your Heater Core is Clogged?
Before you go and spend tons of money flushing out your heater core, you want to make sure that the problem is the heater core and not something else.
Issues with your car’s cooling system can look similar from the heater core to the radiator. If you cannot differentiate precisely where the problem is coming from, it may be best to get a coolant flush instead.
If your engine is running hot and you are getting lots of hot air in the winter, it is more likely that the issue is with your radiator and not your heater core. It is essential to know that these are different.
One way to check if the heater core is blocked is to use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature of the heat coming out of your AC vents.
Make sure to run the car for about ten to fifteen min before the initial read. Then wait ten more min and read again. If your output at full heat is less than 130 degrees, you may have a blockage.
The typical heat reading for vehicles is between 190 and 215 degrees.
Why Do You Need to Flush the Heater Core?
After excessive use, the tubes from your heating and cooling systems can clog with debris.
Flushing out these tubes for the heating and cooling systems allows the coolant (the chemical that makes your car hot or cold) to flow without issues. It ultimately allows your vehicle to heat or cool as desired.
If not flushed out enough or there’s build-up inside, you could run into issues with your heater or your ac not working correctly.
It’s vital to flush the coolant in your car yearly. This can prevent serious issues or blockages later on.
In addition, flushing your cooling systems can help prevent more significant problems down the line that can cost you lots of money.
What Chemical Do They Use to Flush Your Heater Core?
Your heater core has anti-freeze, which is a chemical that runs through the entire coolant system of your car. The heater core is one small segment of this system.
The anti-freeze runs in tubes, and either heats up or cools the air before blowing it into the car.
This same anti-freeze also runs through the radiator, making sure your engine does not overheat.
How Often Should You Flush Your Heater Core?
Flushing the coolant in your car can be done for simple maintenance or if there are issues. It is recommended to flush the entire system after 100,000 miles.
However, many people believe these flushes should occur after 10,000 miles to prevent rust or scaling of the radiator.
Reasons to get your heater core flushed
- you observe leaks
- you have not changed the anti-freeze for an extended period
- you notice issues with your temperature gauge
- you believe there is a blockage
How to Flush the Heater Core Yourself?
The process of flushing the heater core in your car can be done at home.
The best tools to use for a DIY heater core or coolant system flush include a garden hose or an air compressor and a Kit. These kids range in cost from $10 to $45.
Here are three ways to flush your heater core:
Option one: simply replace anti-freeze and drain.
The first option is perfect for maintenance to avoid a trip to the auto shop. This process can help clean out and maintain your heater core but is not advised for extensive blockages.
First, you should find where to change the coolant on your vehicle and add ethylene glycol or anti-freeze until it reaches the marked line.
After removing all air from the system, fill by pressing down firmly on the pressure cap until it clicks.
Start your engine and allow it to idle for a few minutes, or drive around 15-20 miles before shutting off the vehicle to expel air bubbles in the system.
While driving, make sure that any excess coolant is emptied from the reservoir tank when appropriate. Repeat this process three or four times until your drainage comes out debris-free.
Option 2: Backflow Flush using a Garden Hose
The next option is for those more inclined to pop the hood and get their hands dirty. If you are up for some mechanic work, this is the most advised option for flushing your heater core system out.
You will need a DIY flush kit, which you can get from most auto shops or even Walmart or Amazon for an average of $35.
Make sure you always do this with a cold engine. You could hurt yourself if the engine is hot.
Step 1. Locate the heater core. This will look like a small radiator close to the firewall under the hood.
You should see two hoses leading into the firewall. These are the heater core hoses; there is an inlet hose and an outlet hose.
Step 2. Follow the hoses to the heater control valve. This will tell you which hose is the inlet and which is the outlet.
Remove the clamp to the inlet hose and remove the hose. Then replace it with a clear hose and run it into an empty bucket.
This is where the dirty anti-freeze will empty. Never let this runoff on the ground or in a ditch. Animals will drink it, and it will kill them. Make sure to keep pets away as well.
Step 3. Remove the clamp holding the hose to the outlet. Attach the clear hose to the outlet on one side. Then connect it to the garden hose with a 5.8th diameter fitting.
Step 4. Most heater cores do not run at high pressure, so be careful when turning on the water. Keep the pressure below 10psi.
As the water is flowing, you can see the liquid running through the clear hoses. Keep the water flowing until it is clear.
Step 5. Disconnect the water hose, and flush out the water using a funnel to add clean anti-freeze. Add until the exhaust hose is filled with green fluid.
Then you can disconnect both green hoses and reconnect your heater core hoses. Make sure you reclamp your hoses.
Option 3: How to flush with compressed air.
This is the third option and can work well. However, it is crucial to make sure that you remove all air pockets at the end of this process.
Air pockets can give you more issues than accidentally leaving water in your system.
Step 1: Locate the heater core. Make sure to pay attention to which one is inlet and outlet. You will reverse the flow with the air to push out debris.
Step 2: Remove clamps to the hoses. You can use silicone lubricant to help dislodge the clamps. Because we are not flushing water out at the end, you do not need to use the clear hoses, but it can be helpful.
Step 3: Run the inlet hose into an empty bucket. This is where the blockage will run while the air is flowing.
Step 4: Use a clamp to clamp off the compressed air hose. You will want to make sure that you can quickly stop the airflow and control how fast the air runs. You do not need much pressure to clear out the heater core.
Step 5: Use a standard air gauge and plug it into the hose. Then, you can use electrical or gorilla tape to seal the air hose to the outlet hose on the heater core.
Step 6: Wrap the connection with a rag and hold firmly, then gently release air into the hose. Continue to run the air until fluid stops running into your bucket.
Step 7: (optional) If you have a large block, you can use bleach or another chemical to remove more grim. First, remove the air hose and use a funnel to add the chemical into the outlet hose.
Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then flush the chemical out of the system. Next, use the funnel and add water.
Then run the air to flush the water and chemicals out. Repeat the process two or three times, dumping the output as you go.
Step 8: (Not optional) Add the new coolant using the funnel. Keep adding coolant until some runs out of the other tube, ensuring there are no air pockets.
Then, turn on the car and let it run. You may need to top off the coolant a few times after this process.