Question about 1999 Toyota Camry Solara

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I have a 1999 Toyota Solara (with a heater core?) leaking antifreeze under the driver side rug. Initially, there was a gurgling sound that moved from the right side of the dashboard to the left and then down under the center of the vehicle. This happening in the morning with a cold engine. That was the only time I heard that sound. Four days later there was an odor coming out the air vents, some antifreeze under the rug, and a puddle of antifreeze under the car - under the center of the car from the midline back. No leaks under the engine compartment at all. We got a repair manual that shows a fairly easy repair. .....Pull back the rug, remove a plate on the floor, slip out the heater core. Basically nothing about removing the dash board. Why then does the Toyota service dept say they have to remove the dash with 8-10 hours of labor? Is this cleaning up the mess from the leak?

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  • 7 more comments 
  • joleen_krueg Jul 20, 2009

    Why does the fluid leak appear towards the back end of the vehicle- in the center from the midline back toward the trunk?



    Also the smell reminds me of stinky air that would come out of a tire. Fluid in the car was green.

  • joleen_krueg Jul 20, 2009

    I assume the core pipes you are talking about are not visable and wouldn't be inspected during the 90,000 mile service I just did in Dec. 08?

  • joleen_krueg Jul 20, 2009

    I forgot to ask why that large repair manual we got didn't require that you take the dash off for the heater core replacement?

  • joleen_krueg Jul 20, 2009

    Thank you for your responses. The dificiencies of the manual have given my partner the idea that he could attempt this repair. Since we just spent $1500 replacing the brake booster and master cylinder 8 weeks ago you can understand why he is considering it. He hasn't worked on a car since he did a tune up on his old Chevy Malibu in the early 80's. Would you reccommend against his attempting this?



    The saga complete with violins: My trusty Tercel died last year when gas was $5/gal. People were selling high milage Corollas for about two grand less than the cost of a brand new one. There were no new ones to buy either. Now they can't give the cars away. I'm heaps of money into this 10 year old Solara that we settled for because there just wasn't any thing around at the time. Too bad, soo sad.

  • joleen_krueg Jul 20, 2009

    Last question: What do we need to know about cleaning up the leakage? Are there places that the coolant got into that might not be that obvious? Or is it localized to the part itself and the floor? What do you suggest we clean it up with? And where do we dispose of the coolant?



    What manual do you reccommend?



    Thank you for your help.

  • joleen_krueg Jul 22, 2009

    A.For instruction #4 & #5--"number 1 lower instrument panel/ lower instrument panel" removal, I'm looking at Chilton- are these going to be what they call instrument cluster bezel, knee bolster and rear console box?



    B.How much fluid can we expect when we drain the coolent?



    C.**What do you think of doing a heater core bypass? If you think it's a good temporary solution- how would you do it AND how long could we drive that way?

  • joleen_krueg Jul 22, 2009

    Also wonder if once the service provider is in there could we suddenly be told we need all kinds of other work? As I mentioned we just spent $1500 eight weeks ago on brake work........

  • joleen_krueg Jul 22, 2009

    So by checking the pipes that run to the core for worn clamps and pipe integrity and replacing the heater core do you think it is possible to get in and out of there and back on the road? I know it's impossible to say for sure without seeing it yourself. I guess I'd like to know what else this failure could affect so I won't be surprised? Does it alter the functioning of the AC? I can live without it on the coast if I have to.

  • joleen_krueg Jul 22, 2009

    Thank you for your help.

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  • Master
  • 6,784 Answers

Absolutely. the clean up is needed to remove possible mold. this is needed also to prevent further odor in the future as well. heater core replacement procedures will usually run 3 to 5 hours at the most, depending on the clean up needed. The removal of the dash or, lower instrument panel, is the proper way to initiate this replacement. it will provide the needed Clarence so that you will have enough room. to extract the core. it provide great visibility so that you may see all the connections clearly.


The heater core housing is usually under the dash and must be removed to gain access to the heater core.


Here is the proper removal procedure.

1 Disconnect the negative battery cable. Wait at least 90 seconds to proceed work due to the SRS system.

2 Drain the engine coolant.

3 Detach the water hoses from the A/C unit.

4 Remove the No.1 lower instrument panel.

5 Remove the Left lower instrument panel.

6 Remove the three (3) claws and remove the plastic heater protector.

7 Loosen and remove the three (3) screws and the plate.

8 Detach the two (2) heater core pipes by removing the two (2) screws and two (2) clamps.

9 Remove the heater core.



NOTE( As stated above, it will usually take 3 to 5 hours to complete the process. that 8 to 10 hour labor charge seems excessive. i would check around for a lower labor time just to be safe. it shouldn't take 8 to 10 hours to do this job at all. I think that 8 to 10 hour quote is a bit inflated in my estimation).

Posted on Jul 20, 2009

  • 10 more comments 
  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    Part of this core assembly is located on the fire wall in the engine compartment. this coolant will trail towards the back end of the vehicle during travel. the velocity of travel will tend to move the leaking or, escaping coolant towards the rear along the undercarriage. this dosen't necessary imply that the leak is at the rear at all, this is just minor coolant transfer during travel.

    The Green state of this liquid is a string indicator of coolant escaping form the core, due to core breakdown.


    NOTE( You may have some issue concerning the core pipes as well. this will be the reason for the coolant run off towards the rear of the vehicle.have the pipes that run to the core inspected for worn clamps and pipe integrity as well).


  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    The smell of antifreeze is basically a chemical reaction once the coolant is heated past 100 degrees. there is a chemical transformation that occurs in this state that creates this horrid smell. this smell is usually contained within the core and radiator itself. you will only smell it when the coolant is leaked, due to a core breakdown or, radiator malfunction.

    The smell of freshly store bought antifreeze at a room temperature state is quite different than the actual heated smell. it is quite musty when heated past 100 degrees.


  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    Correct. these pipes are only visible to a certain extent. you can see the tips of the pipes. they connect the the actual core and, you will need to remove the pipe clips to extract the core. You are also correct in that, the 90,000 miles scheduled maintenance check points do dont include this type or inspection on the core and pipes as well. this will need ot be requested upon the scheduled check up or, maintenance visit in this case.

    Heater cores are not predicable. they really don't have a set breakdown point. they can breakdown at any time. it is very hard to pin point an actual core failure in most vehicle's, due to the build of this particular device.


  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    I see. some of the repair manuals are incomplete. you will need to make sure of the actual print date and, publishing date as well when purchasing these types of manuals. the repair manual will list the most efficient and quickest way to initiate most mechanical repairs and, most of the time, the details will be very vague in design but, will have great pictures. the removal of the lower instrument panel is crucial for a successful replacement. it provides the maximum visibility when initiating this repair.

  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    I can defiantly understand that situation. This repair is straight forward and, i would recommend the attempt with the use of the directions posted above and as well as the direction you have handy. The core is a whole device so, the extraction is the only tedious issue here. everything else is done in reverse when you install the new core. I think he would be able to handle this with the help of an assistant. absolutely.

  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    The best manual will be the Chilton & Haynes Auto manuals. They are very detailed in many ways. you can find them at your local auto parts store but, i would use the link below to order the exact copy in this case. it will be the most recent print if you purchase on-line. most store bought manuals will have a shelf life of 2 years in most cases.

    CLICK HERE


  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    Glad to help:)

  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    Ok, most of the coolant will leak onto the inside floor carpet and insulation layer as well. i recommend replacing the entire layout if possible. this will prevent Black mold from forming. as far as the coolant disposal, any auto parts store or, local garage will dispose of this waste material for a small charge. in most cases, ti will be free of charge.

    If you are considering on just cleaning the existing stained area. i would recommend purchasing a high quality foam based carpet cleaner. this will work.

  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 20, 2009

    Most of the leakage will be isolated with in the core area and surrounding carpet as well. the carpet will soak up most of the coolant, preventing it from moving further throughout the floor board.

  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 22, 2009

    HI, ok,

    A. The Chilton manual will refer to the instrument panels fasteners as bezels. this is correct. it is referring to the same situation as my instruction stated. rear console as well.

    B. You can expect to drain about 1 3/4 Gallon (s) of coolant, give or take a 1/2 gallon, due to the spillage during the core breakdown.

    C. I don't recommend a core bypass. its best to replace this vital core. this is very important for optimal coolant system functions.


    OK, concerning an inflated charge at the service desk, this is possible in this climate most mechanics will fix all potential issues, even if they do not correspond with the core issue. they call it preventive repairs. it is sure to be inflated in this situation.

  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 22, 2009

    This is just an isolated issue that concerns the core. it would be wise to check the pipes leading to the core and clamps as well but, once the core is replaced, the leaking will cease. you will have proper fluid flow throughout the engine and, the new core will fix this issue. All is left after the core replacement is the clean up process then, you are ready to roll. The AC is not affected in this situation. only the heater will not perform in this situation. the heater Acton relies on the flow of coolant through the core.

  • Michael Masters
    Michael Masters Jul 22, 2009

    No problem, glad to have helped:)

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