Posting this to see if it will help anyone.
I had a clogged and leaking heater core since the purchase of my 2008 Equinox. I went through the winter of 2018 with lukewarm heat and antifreeze smell in the cabin. My local shop wanted $1200 to replace and to do it myself required 2 days and the evacuation and refill of the AC refrigerant. Never mind the amount of disassembly required of the dash.
I have a shortcut but you have to have some experience to do this. It is not the easiest job, but if you understand the pics I've attached, you should have no problem.
The only panels you need to remove are:
- Shifter bezel
- Lower rear center panel under shifter bezel
- Driver side center console panel
- lower dash panel under steering wheel
- lower black cover above pedals
You'll also need to remove or reposition the following components on the driver side:
- Remove and unplug gas pedal
- Remove 2 top bolts on the CPU to the right of gas pedal (don't need to unplug)
- Loosen brake switch and disconnect brake pedal from brake pushrod
- Disconnect the computer connection in the center console to give you some room on that harness
Once you get that far you'll see a panel that looks like the 1st picture. It's held on by 3, 1/4 inch screws. Removing it will get you access to the heater core (see 2nd pic).
You can drain the coolant or disconnect the lines and blow air through the core to minimize the amount of fluid left in the core. There'll be some left regardless, so put something down to collect the drips.
At this point you can cut the lines in 2 spots. One cut has to be close to the core so there's room to slide the core out. You'll need to manipulate the wiring and the brake pedal to wiggle it out, but it wasn't that bad. The other cut should give you room to place a hose between the 2 cut lines. I used an air body saw to make the cuts. You will definitely need a small saw. It's aluminum so take your time. Be careful to not cut any wires or to nick your actuators, other panels, etc. Picture 3 shows the space with the heater core removed.
Picture 4 is the new heater core with the lines cut. I used an air body saw and then cleaned up the ends.
Picture 5 is the new core in place without the hoses.
Picture 6 is the complete install (the hoses are 3/4 inch ID).
I could not put the panel from picture 1 back on because of the size of the hoses. I just fashioned a stepped bracket into one of the removed screw holes to hold the core in place. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of that.
Reinstall all the pieces and be on your way.
If you don't get what I'm talking about above, don't try this. This is just an alternative that worked for me and saved me a grand and a lot of time. No guarantees with these instructions.
If anyone has any questions, fire away and I'll try to answer.