Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

12" White Stickers
BallOfSpray $5 Donation
BallOfSpray $10 Donation

Replacement heater core options

rq0013rq0013 Posts: 567 Solid Baller
So im going to be on my 3rd heater core for my 96 malibu and I dont want to spend the 180$ at the malibu dealer like in years past. I have heard people getting heater cores at Napa (50$) that fit somewhat. I was wondering if anyone could give me a part# or model # for a heater core that would fit my 3 outlet heater box. What have others done?
Rob Quetschke


  • 0419604196 Posts: 128 Baller
    +1 on NAPA, pull yours out and take in with you for matching.
    Ron Messenger
  • thagerthager Posts: 5,182 Mega Baller
    Have heard it may be Ford Mustang or also Ford Econovan. Check out searches on Planet Nautique and Correctcraft fan
    Stir vigorously then leave!
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    1979 Mercury Couger heater core fits a two port heater perfectly and costs $32 at Advance Auto. The only difference is one of the outlets is 3/4" instead of 5/8". We didn't have any trouble putting the hose on the larger fittings but if you have issues, just heat up the hose a little bit and it'll slide right on.
  • brodybrody Posts: 330 Baller
    when i replaced mine, they traced it to a 74 ford econoline van
  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 1,099 Mega Baller
    edited June 2013
    The new ones at Heatercraft are built out of a continuous piece of tubing now rather than the old soldered units. I'd imagine this will last a good while longer. I'd get one of these and be done with it:

    Another option is if the leak is small you can J-B Weld it. My current core has been holding with this fix for years.
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,300 Mega Baller
    edited June 2013
    A local welding shop fixed mine for $20.

    If there is a new heater core as mentioned above, I would probably go that route. I replaced mine about every 3 years. Then just bypassed it and didn't use it.

    Mid 70's Ford Bronco if I remember right. Same diameter plumbing.
  • Ed_ObermeierEd_Obermeier Posts: 1,345 Crazy Baller
    I've read elsewhere that there is a difference in what Heatercraft builds versus an ordinary automitive heater core with regards to how they handle corrosion from raw water. Ordinary automotive cores have the corrosion protection of antifreeze where a marine core uses strictly raw water, which will cause an otherwise unprotected automotive core to fail much more quickly. May be what @jhughes was referring to. Unless you just like screwing with changing out cores every other season (huge PITA) I'd go back to a Heatercraft core specifically made for marine use.
    Ed Obermeier - owner, EZ-Slalom Course Systems
  • seks69seks69 Posts: 23 Baller
    Never saw a three outlet heater.
    An 07 Nautique crosses to a 79 Thuderbird

    When you winterized you need to take the hose off and run RV antifreeze through the heater.
    It will last much longer.
  • Ed_ObermeierEd_Obermeier Posts: 1,345 Crazy Baller
    I had a 3 outlet heater put in my '05 LXI. Two outlets at the drivers helm. One fixed, the other with the flexible tube so the drivers feet are warm plus you have a hose to stick under your shirt. Third outlet is a flexible hose in the walkthrough that reachs the observers seat.
    Ed Obermeier - owner, EZ-Slalom Course Systems
  • rq0013rq0013 Posts: 567 Solid Baller
    I have blown rv through it and they still cracked. The past few yrs I just take the whole thing out and keep it in the house. That made it a few yrs but still cracked. I have 2 outlets for the driver and one tube for the spotter
    Rob Quetschke
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,621 Mega Baller
    Mine only cracked when in the water early season and had a freezing overnight while on the lift. Replaced with cheap automotive core.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,300 Mega Baller
    That's good to know, as we have been thinking about adding one to our SN. I have been hesitant due to my prior experience.
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    I question the perceived quality of the expensive heatercraft cores. Heard of countless people draining the cores completely or running anti-freeze through them only for them to only last 2-3 years anyway. Maybe the new ones are up to snuff but if "the quality" parts only last 2-3 years with anal retentive maintenance, I'm going to continue taking my chances with the automotive parts for $30 especially considering all of my cars have been at least 10-20 years old without a heater core going out.
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,300 Mega Baller
    Even my automotive cores started leaking. I don't know if it is from wake crossings, or the raw water going through vs closed system, but I carried the bypass fitting in my glovebox when I had a heater.
    The biggest thing is crawling under the deck to replace it. I'm not a small guy!
  • wski1831wski1831 Posts: 157 Baller
    I pulled the core out of the heater, took it to the local auto parts and had them order a replacement. I live in Ca and drain the water in winter, but It's been over five years. Working good.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,154 Mega Baller
    A boat dealer told me that the biggest issue with the heaters is the quality of the water running through them. If it has silt or other sediment, some of that can collect and also trap some water when you are winterizing it. They cautioned me on my very first winterization that even using air pressure and RV antifreeze might not be enough to prevent freezing and failure. But, I have no issues so far. For my first year, I did have some seaweed in the shower valve screen that was preventing some flow, but there was no damage from winter. No problems since and we have changed lakes to one with much better water quality.

    I've also seen what sediment in the raw water can do to an engine (not mine). It collects and may clog some of the channels in the block resulting in one cylinder that overheats, etc. The culprit is that the block heats and cools the gunk and turns it into a cement-like compound.

    It's better to run in the cleanest, clearest water possible or flush it with a garden hose if you are running in a muddy location.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • DWDW Posts: 2,307 Mega Baller
    EZ Ed and MISkier make excellent points, automotive heater cores are designed for antifreeze for lubrication, freezing and corrosion protection along with operating in a closed system to keep clean. Raw lake water is very corrosive to a core, thus the high failure rate. One way to make the cores last longer is to shut off water to them when not in use.

    Going the automotive route, the Ford cores are the ones that are closest to the design in question - 5/8" diameter straight inlet and outlet nipples located top and bottom of core. Noted above the close fits, you can simply request the core catalog when you stop at your favorite Auto parts store and scroll through the Ford options. The widest core (3 outlet version) probably won't be listed as available, you will end up picking a narrower one and making a blanking plate to fit.
  • jackskijackski Posts: 265 Baller
    My 3 outlet HeaterCraft is 16years old and hasn't leaked as of yet. I put antifreeze in every winter .
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,300 Mega Baller
    Jackski, so did I. My boat stayed in my semi-heated garage, which has never frozen an open bottle of water I put by the boat, just to know if it ever gets cold enough to freeze.

    I'd go the new OEM route if they are improved.
  • jefejefe Posts: 1 Baller
    AutoZone 399022 for my 06 malibu with 2 port heater .. prefect fit
  • david_skidavid_ski Posts: 121 Baller
    Napa 660-3100. I paid around $30 the last time I bought one. I put in brass "T" fittings in line with the 2 heater hoses along with 1/4 turn brass valves. I drain the heater core and blow air through the heater to flush during non operation periods. After it is clear close the valves and no more water in heater. We thpically only use heater in the fall. At the end of the season it gets drained. With the valves closed no water to rust out the core. I no longer replace the core every 2-3 years.
  • east tx skiereast tx skier Posts: 598 Solid Baller
    Seat heaters are cheaper and don't spray all over your feet every few years.

    Not that I'd know. I don't have either. It's too hot in Texas for heaters most of the time.

    But if I needed heat, I'd skip the thing that is guaranteed to fail in a matter of years.
    Perpetual Longline Baller and curvy ski boat owner.
    My real name is in my profile.

  • GOODESkierGOODESkier Posts: 1,107 Crazy Baller
    If you don't need the heater, you can connect the 2 lines together and be done as well. I have the double ended male fitting for the day mine leaks again.........
    2003 Nautique 196 LE Star Gazer & ZBox - GOODE NANO OneXT 66.75" - Powershell 5 (LFF) - Tournament PB: 2 Balls @ 39.5' OFF (34.2 MPH) on 7/18/2015 at BIG DAWG BROHO!
  • RAWSkiRAWSki Posts: 804 Mega Baller
    You can (or could) actually get a four vent heater from Heatercraft, same core as the the three but they added a fourth outlet to the box. I have had it in my boat for 15 years, I pump RV thru it until it comes back to the engine and never had a problem... lucky I guess based on others history with heater cores.
  • david_skidavid_ski Posts: 121 Baller
    Here a a couple of pics of the ball valves and the "T" fittings. Only in the fall are the valves open and the heater is used. Onece the valves are closed the plugs in the "T" fittings are removed and the water in the heater is blown out. I use a piece of rubber hose with a 1/2 in nipple screwed into where the plug normally resides. It is very easy to manually blow out the heater hose.

    BTW, the quick connect fitting just above the ball valve is to tap heated engine water. It is used in the fall/winter when you need a hot bucket of water on the dock to warm gloves or boot liners. We have even used it to fill a soaking tub on the dock. A little bit of hot water goes a long way, and much faster than the shower hose.

  • My core sprung a leak the other day, old school heatercraft 200 model with metal box. Went to NAPA and got a new core for $28.00. Aluminum rather than copper, had to pop rivets off the channel - top and bottom - swap the channel so it formed from outside in, as opposed to center mounted, then nibbled the hose fittings, re-connected, and away I went. Will upgrade to new heater when this one goes, likely a few years. If anyone needs part number, please let me know.

    Also not sure about raw water vs. anti-freeze as a durability function. How would one treat or coat pipes with long term resistance to high temp high pressure water flow? Just curious-

  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 603 Crazy Baller
    Agree with many above - lose the heater. They all leak eventully and are a pain, increase the circulation flow route, and are something else that can and will likely be a problem at some point. Mine went in the garbage , connected the loop, shorter ciculation. Simple.
  • GarnGarn Posts: 567 Crazy Baller
    @david_ski Why do you have ball valves on both hoses (one going to the heater and one coming back)? Don't you just need to have one on the hose running to the heater? Just shut off the water going to the heater. Isn't that all you need?
  • thagerthager Posts: 5,182 Mega Baller
    In my case two valves allows me to blow out the system easily. Also, you can keep anti-freeze in and lake water out until it warms up enough in the spring to keep heater from freezing up. Otherwise you have to keep winterizing it.
    Stir vigorously then leave!
  • GarnGarn Posts: 567 Crazy Baller
    @thager But if you have one valve going to the heater and then shut it off, no lake water can get in to freeze up. Or am I missing something?
Sign In or Register to comment.