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Pelican Technical Article:

Heater Core Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

*****

Tools:

T25 Torx driver, 4mm Allen

Applicable Models:

R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2007-08)
R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2007-08)
R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-11)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-11)
R57 MINI Cooper Convertible (2009-11)
R57 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2009-11)

Parts Required:

Heater core, heater core O-rings and coupler clips, engine coolant, hose pliers

Hot Tip:

Drain cooling system before beginning

Performance Gain:

Remedy a coolant leak

Complementary Modification:

Flush cooling system

MINI R56 models are equipped with a climate control system or HVAC (called IHKS or IHKA by MINI), which automatically controls cabin temperature once a temperature is set on the HVAC control head in the center dashboard. IHKA controls air-conditioning, heating, internal blower motor operation and numerous air outlets. The electronic IHKA control module governs the operations of the following components:

Heater core inside the heater housing (heater box) underneath the center dashboard.

AC compressor in the engine compartment, driven by engine accessory belt.

Blower motor underneath the dashboard behind the center console; motor speed modulated using the blower final stage.

Air outlets, electric stepper motors attached to vent flaps control the flow of fresh or recirculated cold and warm air to windshield, face-level vents and footwells.

Engine cooling fan, IHKA microprocessor and engine control module (ECM) determine operation and speed of cooling fan.

The heater core is a small radiator located in the heater box. Hot coolant flows through the heater core. Air from the blower motor is passed over the heater core and enters the passenger cabin, heating the interior. The heater core can develop leaks. A sign that you have a heater core leak is a film on the inside of your windshield or a coolant leak on the interior vehicle floor. Should you have a leak, you'll probably also smell the coolant in your cockpit. To check for a coolant leak, first check your coolant level. If low, pressure-test the cooling system. Check for coolant exiting the heater box drain, located under the vehicle near the transmission tunnel. Or check for coolant leaking onto the passenger floor. Trim panels have to be removed to replace the heater core, but the heater box can stay in place. Be sure to purchase O-rings and heater core plastic coupler clips when replacing your heater core.

Do not remove the radiator or expansion tank cap or work on any other part of the cooling system while the engine is hot. Coolant or hot steam may escape and will scald you. To do any work on the cooling system, wait until the engine has cooled off.

To avoid marring the paint and trim, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out body or interior items.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Remove the left side lower dashboard trim. See our tech article on lower dashboard trim replacement. Drain the cooling system.

The heater core is located above the accelerator pedal in the heater housing (green arrow).
Figure 1

The heater core is located above the accelerator pedal in the heater housing (green arrow). With the lower kick panel removed, remove the two T20 Torx screws from the side panel (red arrows).

Then, remove the side panel from the center tunnel (red arrow).
Figure 2

Then, remove the side panel from the center tunnel (red arrow). Slide it toward the rear of the vehicle to remove it.

Coolant flows to the heater core through two aluminum pipes (red arrows).
Figure 3

Coolant flows to the heater core through two aluminum pipes (red arrows). These detach from the heater for easy replacement. If damaged, you will have to remove the hoses attached at the firewall, then the pipes. I like to clamp the hoses off going to the pipes to prevent excess coolant from spilling. Sometimes I can get away without draining the cooling system, by clamping the hoses.

Working in the engine compartment below the intake air housing (red arrow), locate the heater hoses (green arrows).
Figure 4

Working in the engine compartment below the intake air housing (red arrow), locate the heater hoses (green arrows).

using hose clamping pliers (red arrows), clamp both heater hoses.
Figure 5

using hose clamping pliers (red arrows), clamp both heater hoses.

Back inside the vehicle, place a drain pan on the floor.
Figure 6

Back inside the vehicle, place a drain pan on the floor. Then remove the 4mm Allen fastener (red arrow).

Remove the plastic line support (inset).
Figure 7

Remove the plastic line support (inset). Use a small flathead screwdriver to lever it off. Release the clip at the center (red arrow) when removing.

Slide the heater core out of the heater housing a little (green arrow).
Figure 8

Slide the heater core out of the heater housing a little (green arrow). Then remove the opposite side of the line support (red arrow).

Be sure your drain pan is nearby (red arrow).
Figure 9

Be sure your drain pan is nearby (red arrow). Then pull both heater core line straight out (green arrow). Allow the heater core to drain.

Grab the heater core and slide it out of the heater housing (red arrow).
Figure 10

Grab the heater core and slide it out of the heater housing (red arrow). Allow it to drain as you remove it to avoid spills. Attach new foam seals to the heater core. Start to feed the new heater core into the heater box. Once the heater core pipes are close to the heater hose pipes, install the new O-rings and the supports to the lines. Then reassemble the vehicle in the reverse of disassembly. Fill and bleed the cooling system and check the heater's functionality.

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