How to Replace the Heater Core in a 97 Jeep Wrangler

Written by melissa kelly
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How to Replace the Heater Core in a 97 Jeep Wrangler
The heater core is used to heat the interior of the Jeep. (car heater vent image by robert mobley from

The heater core is a radiator-like element of your Jeep Wrangler that is used to heat the inside of the vehicle. It works by passing hot coolant from the Wrangler's engine into a heat exchanger where a fan blows the hot air produced into the vehicle. A bad heater core can be detected not only by improper heating inside the car but also by a foggy windshield immediately upon turning on the vehicle or wet carpet on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Coolant drain reservoir
  • Straight-slot screwdriver
  • Open-end wrench
  • Socket
  • Pliers
  • Coolant

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  1. 1

    Prior to working on the vehicle, have the air conditioning system evacuated and the refrigerant recovered at a dealership or service shop. The system is under high pressure so do not disconnect the refrigerant fittings until after the system has been discharged.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the negative battery cable and disable the air bag system.

  3. 3

    Drain the cooling system by opening the drain fitting on the radiator with a pair of pliers. Remove the radiator cap and allow the fluid to drain into a disposal container. Then, move the container under the drain plugs on the engine block, loosen the drain plugs and allow the coolant to drain.

  4. 4

    Disconnect the heater hoses at the inlet and outlet of the heater core. Disconnect the two refrigerant lines going into the firewall. Next, disconnect the heater control cables and the defroster duct.

  5. 5

    Remove the instrument panel by removing all screws on the panel with a screwdriver. Grasp the individual panel pieces (bezel parts) and pull out sharply at the top to detach them from the dashboard.

  6. 6

    Disconnect the housing attaching nuts from the studs on the engine compartment side of the firewall. Tilt the heater housing assembly down and pull it to the rear, allowing you to remove the heater housing assembly from the vehicle. Remove the retaining screws on the housing assembly and remove the heater core by pulling it straight out of the housing.

  7. 7

    Reinstall the parts in the reverse order of removal. Ensure the housing studs are extended through the firewall and that you have avoided trapping the wires between the firewall and the housing.

  8. 8

    Refill the cooling system by adding coolant to the radiator until full. Add coolant to the reservoir until the level is at the upper mark. Start the engine and check for proper operation of the heating system. Do not turn on the air conditioning system until the refrigerant has been refilled by a dealership or service shop.

Tips and warnings

  • Wait until the engine is completely cool before replacing the heater core.

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