coolant smell/smoke from A/C vents - Jeep Commander Forums: Jeep Commander Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 06:54 AM Thread Starter
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coolant smell/smoke from A/C vents

Mist/smoke from A/C vents smells like coolant. I think it is the heater core simply because the passenger side foot vent had a small amount of coolant in it. I guess the question is, Has anyone ever had this problem before and how much of a pain is it to fix? It also doesn't help that my A/C blower only works on high due to the blower resister. So as far as climate control goes I'm kind of {Expletive Deleted} in North Carolina mid February. Not a car mechanic but I am willing to put some elbow grease into this one. I Figure I am a helicopter technician so how hard could it be....lol


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love/hate relationship with the Commander

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 10:03 AM
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When was the last time you flushed and changed the coolant? Did you use one of those chemical flushes? You didn't use the Prestone "All Makes, All Models, Mixes with any Color Anti-Freeze" did you? If you did, let us know, it would be evidence to confirm what I, (and everyone suing Prestone, and had it upheld by the courts) have been saying all along, their claim is bogus, their derivative of Dexcool dyed a different color is the least likely of all the products out in the market to support such a ridiculous claim.

It really sounds like a leak in the heater core and unfortunately, that means only one thing, pulling out the entire dash to change it. Never done it a Commander, but did it on a 1991 Mini-Van and it was a horrible job, took an entire week end, and that was a 2nd attempt, I gave up earlier and re-attacked much more organized the 2nd time.

Just like working on helicopters, doing this job, bag and tag it. Get a box of sandwich bag and tape, and put the fasteners for each item in a bag and tape it to that item. Then set the items out in exploded fashion in an open area to keep track of it all.

A good manual helps, other than Factory Service, I don't think there is anything for the Commander. Maybe the same generation Grand Cherokee Chiltons. Do a search, several people have posted some ways to access the FSM through online libraries and such.


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Last edited by Mongo; 02-15-2011 at 12:41 PM.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 11:41 AM
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This may help

Says it takes 6.1hours


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2006 XK 4.7V8 | Quadra-Drive II | Daystar 2" Lift | K&N Filter | Port and Polished Throttle Body| Magnaflow# 12256 | IAT Mod | Leather, heated seats, Command View| Factory Tow hooks | Full factory skids | Rear D-Ring Shackle |
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 12:36 PM
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According to Lt_JWS's post, the heater core has something unique for the Commander, NOT like other vehicles.

Most vehicles the heater core mounts near the fire wall and the necks for attaching hoses on the heater core itself is extended through the fire wall to connect to heater hoses.

Looks like in the graphic from the post, the Commander has lines running inside the interior that bolt to the heater core, for carrying the coolant to/from the heater core.

So, its possible there is nothing wrong with the heater core, its the lines leaking or the gasket between the lines and heater core, or even the bolts hold lines/heater core together are just loose and creating the leak.

6.1 Hrs, I hope they have improved the design of the front dash to make it that much easier to remove. It seemed so when I stripped down the dash partially to install my Oil Press/Voltmeter/Trans Temp gauges.

BUT, keep in mind, the time quoted in the manual is for a professional with the right tools and experience to tear down the dash. An amateur, with little experience in removing interior trim pieces and none of the special tools could take a lot longer to do the job.


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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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Got an estimate

First off thanks for the reply, talked to Jeep near Fort Bragg, NC and not only are they going to charge me $800 dollars for labor but none of the Mechanics have replaced a heater core on the Commander. So as of right now I will be doing the repairs myself with a couple of happy helicopter techs. Looked at the system through LT's post and I think I am going to Bypass the coolant line at the firewall as a temp fix because I am almost out of coolant. Going to a tropical place within the next 2 months so I figure I wont be needing a heater if I don't get it the first time....lol. I am using Zerex G-05 with HOAT coolant and did do the coolant flush myself because the water pump took a crap in Nov. Some call it ignorant, But since joining the military as an aviation repairer I have had the confidence to do everything myself and so far I am at 100% OR rate with self repair on the Commander.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 02:23 PM
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Yep, G-05 is the right stuff. I was suspicious because a heater core failing in 5 years is pretty uncommon. Considering that 2-EHA used in Dexcool (and its right in the ingredients list for Prestone "all makes, all models" anti-freeze) will soften rubber and plastic seals in vehicles NOT designed to be used with Dexcool. I thought you might be a victim of Prestone's "All Makes, All Models" Scam, which is just their derivative of Dexcool.

Now that I have learned more from Lt_JWS post, I'm really suspicious you just didn't develop a leak where those lines bolt up to the heater core.

Might want to look up under the passenger side of the dash and see if you can see and reach that part of the heater core, if you can tighten down the bolt, it might solve your whole problem.

Yes, using a hose to bypass the heater core works, just find where they connect at the engine and use a hose to connect those two points. My '69 Dodge Charger had the heater core leak, years later, it still has the hose bypassing the heater core on the motor.


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2011, 10:57 PM
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Eh, five years isn't that long on a Jeep. I've had a heater and evap core both fail well within five years on Jeep products.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2011, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Briandl View Post
Eh, five years isn't that long on a Jeep. I've had a heater and evap core both fail well within five years on Jeep products.
Well, about 10 years back, Chrysler had a supplier that had screwed up their process in producing some of the heater cores and evaporators. They ended up leaving some of the cleaning acid in the bottom of the heater cores/evaporators and it would sit their for a few years before it ate a pin-hole into the heater core/evaporator.

I thought Chrysler put out an extended warranty on those items, i.e. fix them even a couple years after the warranty expired because of that mess up.

Would your problem Jeep be in those years? OR was it your Commander?

It took 30 years for a heater core to fail on my '69 Charger, and it had seen a lot of abuse from P.O.'s, I've never had a heater core fail in any of my other Chrysler/Jeep products, and I have had 9 of them over the years.


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Last edited by Mongo; 02-16-2011 at 01:34 PM.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2011, 01:42 PM
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My 06 Commander had a failed evap core and the broken recirc gear that is very common (Since at least 1999). My 05 WK had a failed receiver/dryer. My 02 had a failed heater core and broken blend doors. My 99 WJ had a failed resistor connector, which is the same problem that still plagues even 06 and newer Jeep Commanders, seven years later.

So the moral of the story is that Chrysler makes crap HVAC systems.

Last edited by Briandl; 02-16-2011 at 01:45 PM.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2011, 06:09 PM
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The '95 Jeep Cherokee that I fixed up for my daughter suffered from the melted connector at the speed switch for the blower fan, I agree that seems to be a re-occurring problem for Jeeps. I fixed it by butt splicing heavier gauge wire into the harness and just replacing the OEM connector with off the shelf electric blade connectors and just connected each wire individually to the switch.

I have problems with HVAC doors on both Mini-Vans I've owned, but were able to fix them myself without much trouble, although the '91 Mini-Van I owned, I did have to strip the dash down to the same as replacing the heater core to fix the jammed HVAC door; in fact that was what I was describing in my earlier post in the thread.

Any plastic end-tank radiator, I have yet to have last much more than 7 years before needing to be replaced for leaking at the seam or the plastic end tanks themselves. Thats NOT only Chrysler though, all the manufacturers use these radiators and they all have them fail earlier than past soldered on metal end tanks.


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