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Old 12-15-2010, 10:41 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2010
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My '98 TJ Wrangler heating story

Posted here last week for the first time with some questions about my '98 Jeep and a no heat issue. To make a long story short and admitting I am not much of a mechanic I tackled flushing the heater core. While it seemed to flush ok it did nothing to solve my problem. Symptoms including the engine warming up to operating temperature like normal with ZERO output of heat. Temp gauge held steady at 210 and with heavy driving a very slight bit of heat came out of the vents. When i stopped all air immediately went to cold. Knowing better but doing it anyway I thought a Jeep dealer would be able to troubleshoot fast enough to make the visit worthwhile. The Chrysler/Jeep dealer called with an estimate of almost $2,000 to replace the radiator ($634), replace the water pump ($494), replace the thermostat ($247), replace the serpentine belt ($198) and flush ($125). I immediately went and retrieved the Jeep (paying a diagnostic charge of ($139.95) and took it to a local mechanic who swears the heater core is bad (when i questioned the hoses being warm he said one should be HOT and the other less hot which was not the case.) They were both warm. Will post back upon completion.

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Old 12-15-2010, 11:00 AM   #2
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I dont know where they get their parts, but I did my radiator for ~$150 (parts and new fluids), and my serpentine belt was maybe $25, I dont remember, and they were both really easy to do.

Sorry to get off topic. and Welcome if I havn't said it already!

Good Luck with the heat, its a bit nipply out there...

What have we got?
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Old 12-15-2010, 11:02 AM   #3
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With the exact same symptoms, I flushed the heater core twice, a week between flushes. Immediately after the second flush, I did a full system flush with new fluids and a new thermostat. Still no heat, flushed the core again (third time) the next day and let the jeep run for about ten minutes at operating temp with the radiator cap off and the jeep pointed uphill. Got a lot of air out, even though i did burp the system previously. Today, I have heat.
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:46 PM   #4
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Well the mechanic is right, the hoses should more than just warm. You could try running Prestone Super Cleaner through your system. Then draining it and installing the Prestone Backflush kit. This worked really well on my system.
Yeah I got a four banger, big whoop, wanna fight about it!?
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Old 12-15-2010, 02:02 PM   #5
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Thanks and I wish I could but I already gave the mechanic the go ahead to fix it. If it really was the heater core I was pretty intimidated about tackling the project myself. Most amazing to me is that if it is the core then that means a Jeep dealer would have charged me $1,800 and his fix would not have fixed the problem!
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Old 12-16-2010, 03:24 PM   #6
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Yeah, anytime someone tries to charge you something like $247 for changing a thermostat you should be a little concerned about letting them touch your Jeep.
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Old 12-16-2010, 03:45 PM   #7
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Just checked with the shop. Still in work on replacing the heater core.
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Old 12-16-2010, 04:15 PM   #8
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There is a lot of missing info here, but from the sounds of it, you have an electronic problem. Do you have the fan motor on all speeds or no? Do you hear the blend door move when you rotate the potentiometer from cold to hot? If the heater core is plugged and you're not mechanically inclined, you're at someone else's mercy, but it sounds more like an electrical part from what you've said.
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Old 12-16-2010, 10:14 PM   #9
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Location: Washington State
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Well, my 98 TJ was in the same boat about two weeks ago. I changed the thermostat, which didn't need changing but had out lived it's life span. I had the heater core flushed, a little better, but no go. I then put a bottle of radiator cleaner in the radiator and ran it for three days. Dumped the radiator, flushed the heater core three more times, from both directions, and now have respectable heat from the little monster. Be sure to flush from both directions as that will help shake the crud loose. The tubes in the heater are super small and plug easily. Be sure to use 50/50 antifreeze and water, distilled water that is.

Good luck.
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Old 12-16-2010, 10:33 PM   #10
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I got a 97 Wrangler with the 4.0 engine and I had the same problem last year. It also took me three flushes, both ways at different intervals. The last time I let it rip for a while and I also put CLR in the core and flushed it out also. Now, it gets pretty warm. When it's 3 degrees out, your still gonna be chilly, but, at 30 your toasty.. Keep flushing, and you might give the CLR a try.
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:43 AM   #11
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JMurle - I do have fan speed at each setting but it only blows cold. I do not hear the blend door moving which I have considered a problem from the start. Should hear back today on the results of the mechanic replacing the heater core. My prediction is they are going to find out that it does not fix everything but I do believe it was a better shot than the Jeep dealer had with his plan of replacing water pump, radiator and thermomstat for $1800. Will update later.
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Old 12-18-2010, 02:03 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by the old guy View Post
Be sure to use 50/50 antifreeze and water, distilled water that is.

Good luck.
Ahh, no, don't do this. Either use straight, undiluted antifreeze and distilled water mixed to about a half and half ratio or the 50/50 antifreeze with no additional water. Diluting 50/50 antifreeze beyond it's premixed ratio will be too diluted and not offer the overheating and freezing protection that you need with antifreeze.

it's no wonder people get confused sometimes with internet advice...
When reinventing the wheel, think rounder!!
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Old 12-18-2010, 09:42 AM   #13
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Washington State
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The 50/50 I suggested is the final ratio of water and antifreeze, not meant to dilute an already diluted premix. Straight antifreeze has a wrong freeze and boil point. Sorry if it confused some. The reason for using distilled water is to eliminate the minerals going into the radiator from plain tap water. Some areas have a very strong amount of minerals in their ground water. Some areas don't. If a water softener is working correctly, that water should be alright also.

I don't think people post to confuse, some just read more into things.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:12 AM   #14
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Final answer

I have heat!! After much discussion and reading on here I now have extraordinary heat in my '98 Wrangler. After all the discussion most of which centered around the heater core it was the WATER PUMP. I am ashamed to say how much I ended up paying a mechanic who, it turns out, troubleshoots by replacement. After all was said and done he had replaced the radiator, heater core, thermomstat, and water pump but the culprit was the pump. The blades of the impeller were literally worn down to almost nothing. Very frustrating, very expensive, but really warm!!

Thanks to everyone. This forum is really awesome to have.

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Old 12-21-2010, 08:28 AM   #15
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Location: Charleston, West Virginia
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I am having the exact same problem with my 98 wrangler. I get kind of warm heat if I am going 50 mph or greater but if I slow down or come do a stop cold air comes out. I am to the point now that i am looking to get a newer jeep in about a year and my current one has rust holes on both driver and passenger side floors and the fenders have rust holes in them.
It may not be worth fixing if I am planning on getting a new jeep.
What do you think?
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Old 12-21-2010, 10:18 AM   #16
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Well, I am pretty lucky I guess as mine is in very good condition so I definitely wanted to fix it. Main issue with this heating problem is that themechanic did not really do any troubleshooting ( I realize now) but rather just replaced components at my expense! My symptoms were exactly as you said though, minimal heat to 50 mph andnone at idle etc. Was definitely the water pump while I paid WELL over $1000 to the guy that fixed it with everything he did. My fault for not trying to do the work myself.

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