Heater Core in a Jeep Liberty Replacement Cost
The Jeep Liberty was originally put on the market in 2002. It was meant to replace the Jeep Cherokee in the United States. For a decade it was one of the best-selling SUVs until it was discontinued in 2012.
During its run, consumers fell in love with its drivability and aesthetics, so much so that even today people are reluctant to part with it. Unfortunately, like anything else, as the Liberty ages, certain parts will break down and need to be replaced. One of those parts is the heater core.
The cost to replace the heater core in a Jeep Liberty will depend on whether you hire a mechanic to do the job. If you decide to attempt this as a DIY project you will pay around $50 for just the heater core, or closer to $150 if you buy a kit with all the necessary parts included.
On the other hand, if you hire a mechanic you will need to also pay for labor. Labor rates vary around the country, but you can estimate that it will take a competent mechanic somewhere in the range of 8 hours to do the replacement.
If, for example, the labor rate in your area is $75, then you can estimate that you will have to pay $600 in labor fees.
What is a Heater Core?
Located under the dashboard of your Jeep Liberty, the heater core is essentially a small radiator. Coolant heats up in the engine and then it passes through the heater core.
As the coolant moves through the heater core, two important things happen. First, fans blow the heat into the passenger cabin to warm it. Second, the temperature of the coolant is reduced so it can recirculate through, and cool, the engine again.
Can I Drive with a Bad Heater Core?
A bad heater core is not catastrophic, but if not attended to it can eventually cause serious problems. If your heater core is not working, it is likely that you have a coolant leak. If coolant is not at proper levels or is not flowing properly, your engine can overheat.
An overheating engine can lead to many serious and expensive problems with your vehicle. Therefore, if you do not need to heat your cabin, you could potentially drive for short distances with a broken heater core, but it is important to constantly check your coolant levels and heat gauge.
How Can I Tell If My Heater Core Is Broken?
In general, a bad heater core in jeep liberty is caused by either a clog or a coolant-leaking crack. If your vehicle has a damaged heater core you may notice some of the symptoms described below.
First, if your heater core is leaking, you will likely smell coolant in the cabin of your Jeep Liberty. It has a sweet smell that you will not forget once you have smelled it.
Further, if you check your passenger-side floorboard you may notice that it is moist. That moisture is the leaking coolant. If left alone, the leaking coolant can start eating into your floorboard, eventually rusting through it.
Lack of Heat
Another potential sign that your Jeep Liberty has a bad heater core is a lack of heat in the cabin. If you turn on the heat in your Jeep Liberty and little or nothing happens, you may have one of several issues.
If you do not hear the blower, that is likely the problem. Further, the blend door, the door that the driver controls to set the amount of heat coming into the cabin, may be stuck.
If those two issues are not causing the lack of heat the next thing you should do is check the coolant levels in your engine. If the coolant level is normal, then you can go on to check for heater core issues. In this situation, the core may be clogged.
A more dangerous sign of a bad Jeep Liberty heater core is fogging windows. If you turn on your heater or defroster and you notice your windows fogging up, the reason may be that your heater core is leaking antifreeze.
The core leaks antifreeze and then the heat coming off the core causes the antifreeze to evaporate. Essentially, your heater core becomes an antifreeze humidifier.
This is a major problem because if you are seeing the condensation on the windows, it means that there is vaporized antifreeze permeating your passenger cabin. Antifreeze fumes are toxic so anyone sitting in your Liberty cabin will be subject to inhaling carcinogens.
Finally, if your heater core is not working properly, you may notice that your car tends to overheat. The heater core heats the cabin, but in the process, it cools the coolant that passes through it. If the coolant can’t dissipate its heat, it can not effectively cool the engine.
Regarding this symptom, it is important to note that there are numerous reasons for which your engine may overheat, and a bad heater core is not even the most likely reason. Therefore, if your engine overheats, you should only check the heater core first if there are some other symptoms of heater core issues.
How Do You Replace a Jeep Liberty Heating Core?
If the heater core in your Jeep Liberty is damaged, it cannot be repaired and must be replaced. Replacing the heater core is an involved process. To clarify, installing the core into the HVAC housing is relatively simple.
The difficulty is in disabling the airbags and removing the entire dashboard. There are many controls and connections on the dashboard, and you can easily become confused.
The dashboard is not just one component, and you will need to keep track of each component and all the nuts, bolts, and screws that go with it. More importantly, you will have to deal with the air conditioning and plumbing systems and these systems can get technical.
Further, there are many regulations and dangers regarding freon. You need to understand how to work with freon and how to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner.
Finally, heater core replacement is very time-consuming. Depending on your mechanical skill level, the job can take upwards of 15 hours. Make sure you can dedicate the time to do the job, and make sure you have alternate transportation methods.
If, after you have considered all the above, you still decide to DIY, be sure you plan ahead and obtain the maintenance manual for your make and model. Be wary of people on forums that purport to have an easier method of accomplishing the task.
You are dealing with important vehicle systems and dangerous chemicals. It is no time to cut corners.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Jeep Liberty Heater Core?
A heater core is an inexpensive automobile part in comparison to other parts you could potentially replace. However, as a do-it-yourself project it is quite time-consuming, and if you take it to a mechanic the labor will be costly.
Time or money, the choice is yours, but you will likely have greater peace of mind if you use a professional in this instance. If you decide to attempt the replacement in your own garage, the heater core itself will cost you around $50.
However, it is likely a good idea to purchase a full heater core kit. The kit comes with the access door, clamp, tubes, and O-rings necessary for the replacement. The entire kit will cost you closer to $150. Also be aware that this project takes a long time, so if you value time like money you need to account for it.
If, on the other hand, you decide to take your Jeep Liberty into the shop so that a mechanic can do the job, you will have to dish out quite a bit for labor. Rates are highly variable across the country, but you can take $75 as an average.
If you consider that it may take a professional around 8 hours to complete the job, you will pay around $600 on top of the cost of parts. Again though, the calculation is entirely dependent on your location.
In the end, the heater core in your Jeep Liberty is an important component. It provides warmth for passengers and helps to lower the temperature of your engine coolant.
Although you can drive your vehicle for short distances with a broken heater core, eventually you will cause your car to overheat. Overheating your engine can badly damage many components. You can replace the heater core at home, and you will save hundreds of dollars in labor costs.
However, replacing the heater core is a difficult job because you must remove the dashboard and deal with the HVAC system. If you decide to have a professional do the job, expect to pay for around 8 hours of labor at the going rate in your area.