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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have been noticing the smell of coolant when I turn my heater on. The smell isn't too strong or unbearable but noticeable. After reading some other posts on possible causes I figure I'm looking at the heater core or the water pump. I performed an inspection of coolant fluid level and possible leaks both before and after driving with no issues. Didn't notice any mist on the windshield either. Is there any other way I can tell for sure? Since changing the heater core is a pretty big task I don't want to change it prematurely or spend money on parts I don't need..
 

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Well, I'd say a small leak has developed. It probably won't get better, and will most likely get worse. I know that one indication on my jeep was antifreeze under the carpet on the passenger side. Doubtful you'd smell the leak if it was from the engine compartment. Here's one way to test. Bypass the heater core by looping the hoses. If smell disappears then heater core is the problem. Took me an afternoon to change.
 

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Mine did the same thing. I had an intermittent coolant smell inside and the heater wasn't too hot either. Went on for over a year. I too thought that it may have been the water pump or a small leak somewhere under the hood. I would smell coolant outside randomly as well after turning it off. But my coolant level hardly ever dropped.

Then one day after work I noticed a big wet spot under the Jeep. Investigated and found a liquid dripping from the heater drain on the firewall under the battery tray. The liquid was clear but had a slight smell of coolant. Then as fast is it came, it stopped. This went on for a couple months where it would leak and then not. I really noticed the puddle underneath after driving in the rain, so that what I figured it was.

Then the heater core finally sprung its final leak. The coolant smell got really strong, and the wet spot underneath became a daily thing and the coolant level dropped accordingly. Swapped in a new heater core and all is well again.

Your heater core is on the way out, just a matter of time before it leaks big time... I still want to find the Mopar engineer who thought it would be a brilliant idea to put the core where the entire dash had to get ripped out a swift kick in the nuts...
 

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Mine did the same thing. I had an intermittent coolant smell inside and the heater wasn't too hot either. Went on for over a year. I too thought that it may have been the water pump or a small leak somewhere under the hood. I would smell coolant outside randomly as well after turning it off. But my coolant level hardly ever dropped.

Then one day after work I noticed a big wet spot under the Jeep. Investigated and found a liquid dripping from the heater drain on the firewall under the battery tray. The liquid was clear but had a slight smell of coolant. Then as fast is it came, it stopped. This went on for a couple months where it would leak and then not. I really noticed the puddle underneath after driving in the rain, so that what I figured it was.

Then the heater core finally sprung its final leak. The coolant smell got really strong, and the wet spot underneath became a daily thing and the coolant level dropped accordingly. Swapped in a new heater core and all is well again.

Your heater core is on the way out, just a matter of time before it leaks big time... I still want to find the Mopar engineer who thought it would be a brilliant idea to put the core where the entire dash had to get ripped out a swift kick in the nuts...
Let me do the second kick, the project is worse when you have AC, you have to dump all the Freon, R&R the dash and heater core, then pull a vacuum and then re-charge
 

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Let me do the second kick, the project is worse when you have AC, you have to dump all the Freon, R&R the dash and heater core, then pull a vacuum and then re-charge
Indeed. I'm normally all about doing repairs myself. But between work, school, and the TJ being the only mode of transportation for my girlfriend and I, it went to the only mechanic I trust.

I would have loved to tackle this project myself, but it just wasn't possible at the time. Then throw in that mine is a Sahara, so it has AC, I walked away and took it to my mechanic. Best $500 I've spent in a long time. I would much rather have spent it on something else, but it was worth it to me to not have to deal with that giant headache.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well....pretty sure I have confirmed its the heater core, my wife offered to clean the jeep while I was at work....I wasn't going to say no....hahaha when I came home she told me she found a small puddle of green fluid on the passenger side under the floor mat. Looks like my weekend just got busy! Is there anything else I should replace while I have the dash off? It would be nice to have to do this only once.....
 

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Well....pretty sure I have confirmed its the heater core, my wife offered to clean the jeep while I was at work....I wasn't going to say no....hahaha when I came home she told me she found a small puddle of green fluid on the passenger side under the floor mat. Looks like my weekend just got busy! Is there anything else I should replace while I have the dash off? It would be nice to have to do this only once.....
Yes that's the core. Remember you can loop the hoses and bypass it if you need to. I did for the summer last year. Then fixed as winter drew near.
 

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Mine is a 98 and already had 1 core installed, based on the label of the old one. Wasn't much else to fix, other than I cleaned mold and leaves out of the heater box and made sure all the controls worked and the foam on the heater doors was ok, etc. try and find the instruction set that ropes the dash to the roll bar. Is much easier and steering wheel and many other components on the left side don't have to be undone. Mine has a/c but was discharged when I got it, so that wasn't a concern. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Mine is a 98 and already had 1 core installed, based on the label of the old one. Wasn't much else to fix, other than I cleaned mold and leaves out of the heater box and made sure all the controls worked and the foam on the heater doors was ok, etc. try and find the instruction set that ropes the dash to the roll bar. Is much easier and steering wheel and many other components on the left side don't have to be undone. Mine has a/c but was discharged when I got it, so that wasn't a concern. Good luck!
Got it.....thanks for the update!
 

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Well this sucks,....I got the coolant smell today....guess I need to check the carpet and start doing some reading. Anyone have some links with good pics or videos?? Thanks
 

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Well this sucks,....I got the coolant smell today....guess I need to check the carpet and start doing some reading. Anyone have some links with good pics or videos?? Thanks
Use this as a guide.

TJ Heater Core Replacement - 1

But, Don't follow the first instructions. Go all the way to the update where he suspends the dash from the roll bar with parachute cord. That's what I did and worked great. If you do the first set you'll be having to do a lot more work and pull the steering column. Not my recommendation. IF you pull the column, don't screw up the clockspring and etc. read ALL these directions carefully!
 

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If you have A/C I would probably replace that condenser as well. Since you have to take the entire dash board out to get to the heater core, you may as well do the A/C also. Mine was a leaking A/C condenser. Had the heater core replaced, along with the heater hoses at the same time. 58K on the clock.
 

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Use this as a guide.

TJ Heater Core Replacement - 1

But, Don't follow the first instructions. Go all the way to the update where he suspends the dash from the roll bar with parachute cord. That's what I did and worked great. If you do the first set you'll be having to do a lot more work and pull the steering column. Not my recommendation. IF you pull the column, don't screw up the clockspring and etc. read ALL these directions carefully!

Zombie post, rising from the dead... Newb here, we just got a 2005 LJ today, and I turned the heat on tonight, and the defrost smells of coolant, but the a/c and the vent and floor don't... yet. Is the TJ directions listed above in the link applicable to the LJ also? Thanks!
 

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Zombie post, rising from the dead... Newb here, we just got a 2005 LJ today, and I turned the heat on tonight, and the defrost smells of coolant, but the a/c and the vent and floor don't... yet. Is the TJ directions listed above in the link applicable to the LJ also? Thanks!
Welcome to the Forum, from Cave Creek AZ.
 
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