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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-25-2014, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
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2010 Cobalt FXE Heater Core Removal

My 2010 Cobalt XFE (no AC) had a leaking heater core. Losing antifreeze, smelling antifreeze in the cabin, dripping antifreeze from the engine side firewall (Chevy did a nice job engineering a drain to the outside so the carpet is dry, but I could still smell the antifreeze).

Thought I would do the job myself, and didn't realize what a job it would be.

This was my experience, and I am not telling you how to do anything. If I did this the hard way, then that's the way I did it. Perhaps somebody will find my experience helpful:

1. Buy a new bottom heater core pan from Chevy parts. ~$35. I gave up trying to get the old pan out whole, and cut the installed pan into pieces to get it out. With the new pan, I looked at the connection points for reference as the factory installed pan was plastic riveted. The plastic rivets attaching the factory installed pan needed to be shaved off or cut. The replacement pan has screw holes at the attachment points, so it's evident where the plastic rivets are located.

2. Tools -
3/4" wood chisel to cut through some of the plastic rivets.
Battery operated Multi-Tool. One of those hand held cutters like a barber's electric hair cutter. I used this to quickly cut the installed heater pan into pieces and broke the pan out of the assembly. Took care not to cut other plastic parts that were not part of the pan. Used the replacement pan as a reference.

3. Attachment points -
There are several plastic rivets to shave off. Used the MultiTool where I could, used the Chisel for the rest. Some rivets were only accessible from the inside of the pan, once I cut the pan into pieces.

There was one bolt through the firewall. This is next to where the heater core tubes and rubber hoses connect. The bolt has a dual purpose as a fuel line attachment point and holder for the heater core pan. Detach the flexible fuel line holder, use a 10mm wrench to remove the nut. The bolt is attached to the heater pan in the cabin. After I got the old pan out, the bolt came with it. Reused this bolt by unscrewing (plastic threads) from the heater pan and screwed it into the new pan.

The drain was on the passenger side through the firewall. It hung up on the housing above and had a thick flexible gasket around it. It eventually worked out, but I had to cut more of the pan to get it out.

4. Dashboard and Center Console -
I ended up removing the entire dashboard, center console and driver's seat to get enough room to work. Now that I cut out the heater core pan into pieces, it might not have be necessary to remove so much. I found other forums for dash removal. You decide what you want to remove.

Spent so much time on the pan, forgot to mention the heater core pulls right out; after the pan is removed.

Good luck.

Last edited by orvas; 01-25-2014 at 06:31 PM.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-25-2014, 07:31 PM
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This is what the GM server says;

Heater Core Cover Replacement
Removal Procedure

Remove the body control module (BCM) from the vehicle. Refer to Body Control Module Replacement.

Remove the front floor console left side extension panel. Refer to Front Floor Console Extension Replacement - Side.
Pull back the carpet at the bottom of the left instrument panel (I/P) center support bracket and remove the left I/P center support bracket nuts.
Remove the left I/P center support bracket.
Remove the accelerator control pedal from the front of the dash and position out of the way. Refer to Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor Replacement .

Raise the center floor outlet duct while pushing the floor ducts down to disengage the ducts.
Rotate the center floor outlet duct forward in the vehicle and pull down to disengage it from the HVAC module.

Remove the heater core cover heat stakes with a small chisel.
Loosen the nut that is behind the fuel line bracket and remove the stud from the dash panel at the heater hoses.

Important: Make certain that all of the heater core cover screws are removed before attempting to remove the heater core cover.

Pull the heater core cover down just enough to clear the locating pins from the HVAC module. Slide the heater core cover rearward until the drain tube clears the front of dash. Slide the heater core cover down, rearward, and to the right to remove.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-26-2014, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
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thank you, I read that earlier and tried to work it this way. There are 3 'stakes' in the center above the floor tunnel that I personally could not get to. I don't think replacing the heater core was part of the design requirements. I would have enjoyed very much having the design engineer work that heater core pan out themselves. Dinner and drinks would have been on me as we all would celebrate. Thanks for the forum. I like my Cobalt as it fits my needs perfectly, and I think it's a good looking car. I am keeping this car until it's dust, so I want to do everything myself and keep it the way I want.

INSTALLING the new heater core and pan:

I had problems getting the heater core and pan in place and fitting as it should.
I always seem to do things the hard way, and have to go back and do it over.
So if you can do this better in a different way, go right ahead.

This is what I had to do -

1. Remove the stud that screws into the replacement pan.
This stud goes through the firewall to hold the fuel line.
I put this on too early and the pan wouldn't fit in place.
Install the stud AFTER the pan is in place when everything fits and is secured.

2. Remove the foam donut in the firewall hole for the pan drain.
My replacement pan wasn't fitting well with the foam donut in place.
Removing the foam for the pan installation really helped.
Replace it after the pan is in place and secure.

3. The heater core falls down naturally as there is nothing to secure it other than the pan.
I had difficulty pushing the pan in place, and the heater core would shift.
I used some plain white masking tape to hold the heater core in place.
The masking tape stays in after I get the pan on, so I didn't want to use too much.
But masking tape dries out, so it was my decision to use it.
If you can figure out a better way to hold the heater core in place, go ahead.

It's been a few days and the heater core pan leaks air so I put some black tape over the seams.
Not exactly what I wanted, but this worked.
If over time the tape fails, I will seal the seam with flexible polyurethane caulk.

I am glad to have this job done for around $100.
replacement pan $35
replacement heater core $55
new chisel $15
I already had the battery pack multi-tool.

Everything is back in place with no squeaks or chatter and it gave me a chance to clean all the plastic trim to like new.

If you remove dash trim, get a heavy gauge meat fork from GoodWill for 50 cents and cut the prongs down to short nubs.
The cut off fork give you a getter surface than a screwdriver, and once the trim is open a little, you can press on the center clip and release the spring on the clip. Comes away cleaner than forcing it off.

Last edited by orvas; 02-15-2014 at 09:44 AM. Reason: Installation of a new heater core and pan
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