The problem: My friend's car has a non-functioning passenger side door, and in August, the heater core started leaking into the cabin. So I bypassed the core so the car could remain in use. Of course it's winter now and the car is not only uncomfortable to operate, but arguably dangerous in conditions where the windshield gets foggy. Unfortunately, replacing the heater core requires removing the dash on the passenger side, and with that door stuck shut, this just isn't an option. So I'd like to solve for 1) defog/defrost and 2) comfort.

I have two reasonable consumer options.

In the $20-$50 range, I can try one of these 12V 150 watt cigarette lighter dudes. At best, I figure it might help mitigate some fogging, but I don't have much confidence in it, and at worst I am concerned it would just be a waste of money..

And in the $150-$200 range, there is this more sincere floor mounted unit and it's companion defrost kit, which are connected in the coolant loop by long-run heater hoses that have to take questionable paths from the cabin to the engine compartment.

With these in mind, here is my non-consumer, DIY alternative for your consideration..

What if I buy a cheap, simple heater core replacement, like this $35 one for a Jeep Wrangler, some long heater hoses (apparently these are like $70), house it in a suitably sized tupperware bin with a simple cigarette lighter fan like this one to push the warmed air out of some ducts I could fashion, and anchor the whole thing to the floorboard.

I think this hacked together solution might go together, installed, for appx $140ish. And I suspect the Maradyne solution I described above would go together, installed, for appx. $250ish. Downsides of my proposed solution are probably less power, not re-saleable, and even less effective. I suppose it's possible I could re-sell the Maradyne for enough to outweight the savings I'd see from DIY'ing something...but of course that's not much fun.

So. Feasibility of this? Anyone ever tried it, or aware of anything I might want to take into consideration? ..for example maybe the tupperware bin couldn't take the heat, etc?

  • Can you get to the holes originally used to supply the old heater core - that may be a suitable place to bring the hoses through...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 22:39
  • @SolarMike, probably not. I was anticipating going, intrusively, up into the glovebox and straight out the back of it through the firewall to perform the hookup there.....although it's reasonable that I should be concerned about dodging vital things or the old heater core itself in the process of making these holes.
    – elrobis
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 22:42
  • 1
    i can tell you you are correct, the cig lighter thing isn't worth a crap. Been there done that. Re other issue, I think id take it to the local discount body shop see if they can get the door open,
    – agentp
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 1:59
  • Could you try simply reconnecting the heater core and intruding some leak stopper? I suspect the cheapest answer will be to first fix the passenger door latch. Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 13:26


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