1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais Heater Core Removal

The heater core in your 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais essentially does the same job as baseboard heaters found in earlier homes. As hot antifreeze circulates through the heater core in your Calais, it begins to radiate heat. This is why even with your car's heater turned off, it still gets warm in the interior. Damage to the heater core can occur rapidly from failed cooling system maintenance. As coolant ages, it breaks down in the form of sediments. These sediments, if not flushed from the cooling system in your '88 Calais, eventually cause clogs and ruptures. You can remove and replace the heater core in the 1988 Calais at home. Expect to spend 90 minutes performing this job yourself.

Tools Used: Coolant drain pan, Pliers, Hydraulic jack, 2 jack stands, Socket wrench set

Remove Heater Core

Raise and support the hood of your '88 Calais. If you have recently driven the car, allow your Calais's engine a minimum of one hour to properly cool. Remove the radiator cap, and place it in a safe location to prevent accidental loss within the engine compartment.

Slide a coolant drain pan beneath your Calais's radiator on the driver's side. Reach down into the engine compartment, and loosen the radiator's drain plug on the lower, right corner of the radiator with pliers. The plug loosens by rotating it counter-clockwise.

Drain all of the coolant from your Calais's radiator into the drain pan. Close the drain plug once the flow of coolant reduces to drips instead of a stream. Tighten the plug, but only until it is snug to avoid damaging its plastic threads.

Apply the emergency brake, and raise the front end of your Calais with a hydraulic jack. Position jack stands on both sides of the car beneath the frame rail, forward from your Calais's front tires.

Slide under the car at the rear of the front passenger's side tire, and locate your heater core's hoses. Both of the hoses sit at the bottom of the firewall side by side, and each of them has a round metal clip securing it to the heater core.

Remove both of the round metal clips holding the heater core hoses. Squeeze the metal tabs together on the clips with a pair of pliers. Draw both clips back 6 inches on your Calais's heater core hoses. Pull both of the hoses off the heater cores tubes, then remove the clips on each hose. Discard the old clips, and use new clips when you reattach the hoses during installation.

Remove both of the jack stands, and lower your '88 Calais back to the ground. Open the passenger's side front door, and locate the heater core's case cover beneath the dashboard. The case cover is black and looks like an oddly shaped letter "T".

Remove the eight bolts along the outer sides of the case cover with a socket wrench. Two bolts each are on the left side, right side, lower side and upper side of the case cover. Once removed, store the bolts in your pocket or within the glove box for safekeeping. Lower the case cover from its mounting position, and set it to the side of your work area.

Remove the four bolts that secure the two metal straps crossing your heater core horizontally with your socket wrench. Grasp your 1988 Cutlass Calais's heater core and pull it toward you, out of its housing.

Tips & Warnings

Install your Calais's new heater core by reversing the entire removal process. Use new metal clips to secure both heater hoses back to the core. General Motors states the coolant and cooling system components require faithful service/maintenance every 30,000 miles.

Do not reuse the old coolant because you will re-contaminate your Calais's cooling system.

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