You are watching: 2001 chevy silverado heater core quick disconnect
I just experienced a failure of my heater core quick connect hose fitting over the weekend while towing my 10K# 5th wheel RV. I”ve read about this being an issue post failure. I wanted to share my experience and maybe help prevent this from happening to another. First, I must say, this plastic quick-connect fitting was a bad engineering idea that I hope GM has corrected. Granted my truck is now 12 years old, I do all the meticulus maintenance on it and this issue would never have occured to me as a remote possibility. Sure change the coolant lines when they become hard and dry rotted but quick connect fittings? Anyway, on with the show… The subject of discussion is a hose quick connect fitting that is located right at the firewall on the passenger side of the engine. Two rubber hoses attach to the heater core at this location via these quick connect fittings which the hoses are clamped to (I should have photos I know). The one on the right side snapped off while I was underway on Thursday towing my 5-ton 5th wheel RV at 65 MPH on a NC 4 lane highway. I had no clue when it first blew…but my dash message center began flashing an amber warning message “LOW COOLANT” then maybe a few heartbeats later it flashed another message “CHECK COOLANT TEMP“, so I checked and the temp gauge was climbing past 250 degrees. Could it really be happening? I immediately got on the brake and began slowing. Luckily an exit came up at that very moment and I pulled off onto the ramp and coasted to a stop. However, about the time I reached the exit ramp the message center gave me a RED message that caused my skin to crawl and nearly sent me into shock…”ENGINE OVER-HEATED“!!! This all seemed to unfold faster than you can say “what the hell just happened”. The service engine light lit up also adding to the stress. I was stunned…meanwhile I rolled to a stop, shut the truck off, pulled the hood release and practically did a Dukes of Hazard dismount getting to the front as I watched what was left of my Dexcool boil into steam from under the hood. I”ll admit, I was nearly in tears but was to shocked at the sight of my truck seemingly crying out in steam to even contribute a tear drop. I lifted the hood and ducked expecting a cloud of steam to lash me, but was surprised when hardly any was there at all. It didn”t take long to spot the heater hose laying limp across the top of the motor and the broken fitting above it with coolant splash marks all over. Then it all made sense, the fitting snapped, coolant under pressure rapidly pumped and boiled out faster than a loose fart after a night of heavy drinking. And there I was…broken down.So game over right? Fearing that my engine was possibly toasted, not a drop of coolant left and stuck on an exit ramp 30 miles from home…there was still a small glimmer of hope. Fotunately, my wife was following in her car due to me needing the car to go to work on Friday from our camp spot (keeping the DD miles off the truck).
I was still in shock, but I got in her car and went in search of a solution and got a second lucky break; we found a WAL-MART less than a mile from the exit ramp. I hurried in and bought 5 gallons of Dexcool (I wasn”t sure how much) and a funnel. Still not sure how I was gonna repair the hose or if the engine would run if I did…I spotted one of those Prestone flushing kits that has the T-fittings and clamps that you can install in the heater core hoses. Years ago I had bought one and installed it when I flushed my radiator/cooling system…my minds light bulb came on with high beams and I bolted to the check-out. Back to the exit ramp we went, and I grabbed my tool kit from the truck. I carefully cut the hose to get the broken barb fitting off then cut the other good hose in order to loop the hoses back on themselves using the Prestone T-fitting as a connector and bypassed the heater core. Things under the hood were cool enough by then to begin re-filling with coolant. 2-1/2 Gallons of Dex-cool went into the system. I was worried that re-starting the engine might sound horrible so I turned the ignition first to RUN and watched for warnings and messages…heard the fuel pump spin up and saw the “CHANGE ENGINE OIL” message come on steady and then go off after a few seconds. I turned the key to start and my GM 6.0 V8 roared to life as if nothing had happened. Now I was ecstatic! I monitored the the engine temp. and made sure there were no leaks in my repair for a couple of minutes but everything looked good. So, I shut the engine off and topped off the surge tank with the left over 1/2 gallon (that”s right, 3 gallons!) before discussing whether to keep rolling to our destination or abort the trip altogether. After checking the oil and sniffing the dipstick to detect any burnt oil odor and finding none (synthetic oil is amazing), we decided to keep rolling and watch for any signs of trouble. The rest of the trip was uneventful; coolant temps were normal and oil pressure was good…and I was somewhat relieved. When the camp trip was over, we headed home and again it was uneventful. I performed an oil and filter change that evening and scanned the PCM for any codes. I discovered a P1258 DTC code had been recorded but there were no details on the scan screen. Checking the internet revealed that this is an engine over-heating protection code that activates when engine coolant temp rises above 270 Deg F. It actually signals the PCM to shut-off certain fuel injectors to alternating cylinders in order to bring temperatures down. How cool is that?! GM did something right and something stupid. Go figure.So now I am replacing all the collant hoses and getting rid of any plastic quick-connect fittings that are left. Youtube has a couple of videos of how to remove the fittings without the special tool and shows that you don”t need the quick connectors anyway.