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Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Hose quick connect failure almost ruins a camping trip and a V8

Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby bbrown [OP] » Jul 22 2013, 10:18pm

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.
K&N/Custom Intake, Banks Headers & Tuner, Dual FM Exhaust, 8K HID low beams & Fogs, 1100 watt Infinity & JL Stereo, 200A Alt, 3 Batteries, Power Acoustik PD-740NBT, RV camera, Hayden Tranny Cooler, 243 heads, 1.8 roller rockers
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Related Topics  Hiniker Hydraulic Hose Failure   HEATER CORE?????   heater core   Heater core flush?   heater core replacement questions?   Smell anti freeze in truck (Heater Core)   Installed iSimple Connect   Hide/connect GPS pwr cable   295/70/18? Fitting?   Help fitting my 33s   Evaporator core replacement   Fitting questions plz help   Bakflip G2 not fitting properly.   Core Cargo Net Feedback? 
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby Machster69 » Jul 23 2013, 2:28am

I've warned about this... It happened to me, lead to cracked head as it broke off going down the highway! Was hot before i knew it... Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby bbrown [OP] » Aug 02 2013, 3:34pm

Update: Since my post, I have ordered and received new heater core lines and will drain and install this weekend. I also purchased the q-connect removal tool for $8 on Amazon. The tool worked perfectly...popped the q-connects right off. Just some interesting info for anyone who needs to save a few bucks on parts. You can get AC Delco Made in the US parts (like the hoses) for much cheaper online at Amazon than in brick and mortar parts stores. I got the hoses and the q-connect tool there for all around $50. Now, Amazon didn't have the actual quick connect fittings and I decided to purchase new ones rather than just clamp the hoses the the heater core nipples that have no barbs on the ends. I found out that Rockauto.com has the quick connects and they were only $5 each. The interesting part, is that there are actually 2 different q-connect fittings (one black and one white) but other than color the fittings are the same size and fit (yes I checked). Since the white one failed and the old black q-connect is still good (not brittle at all), I ordered 2 new black q-connects so that I got a spare. What sucks is having to drain the brand new coolant out in order to install the lines...Oh well.
K&N/Custom Intake, Banks Headers & Tuner, Dual FM Exhaust, 8K HID low beams & Fogs, 1100 watt Infinity & JL Stereo, 200A Alt, 3 Batteries, Power Acoustik PD-740NBT, RV camera, Hayden Tranny Cooler, 243 heads, 1.8 roller rockers
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby Dvirgil » Aug 15 2013, 8:25pm

i just flushed and filled my coolant and after reading about all these quick connects breaking, I decided to do some preventive maintenance and just replaced both heater hoses at the core with the dorman Part #800-409. They fit snuggly and no leaks so far. Looking at the old ones I took off, they still looked ok, but the white was visably in worse shape than the black one, it looked brittle.. I tugged at it lightly in my hands and it still seemed to be holding and didn't break in my hands. Truck is an 2005 1500 with 59k on it.
I feel better knowing the new ones are in there and good to go for awhile. As cheap as they are and easy to change, I will be replacing these at every flush, every couple years. Just glad GM did away with the quick connects at the water pump and intake manifold, and I didn't have to deal with those.
2005 Silverado 1500, v6, auto, single cab, work model.
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby robfriedenberger » Aug 15 2013, 8:41pm

I dont know if the effects my truck......but i think I know what my next project is goint to be..... That was quick/awesome thinking on your part to get one of those kits needless to say im impressed i always enjoy good roadside fixes. Usually my roade side fixes need redone every few miles lol =)
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby TooTall999 » Aug 15 2013, 8:49pm

I had one fail on my '99 Silverado 5.3L. I eliminated the plastic quick connects and clamped new hose directly to the heater core pipes. Why replace a stupidly designed part with another stupidly designed part? Eliminate the weak link!
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby robfriedenberger » Aug 15 2013, 8:55pm

I know what ill be looking for tonight than.....lol thanks. Maybe they should be replaced more often thus not making them weak?
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby Dvirgil » Aug 15 2013, 11:02pm

I figure the originals lasted 7-8 years and 60k, so replacing them every 2 or 3 years is just good insurance,,i agree just eliminating them would work also..but the heater core does not have barbs, just a rib around the pipe you can clamp behind, I highly doubt this would be an issues as screw clamps should hold it fine, but you will be pulling the hose a little taught to take up the lost space from deleting the quick connects, or buy longer hose.
2005 Silverado 1500, v6, auto, single cab, work model.
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby TooTall999 » Aug 15 2013, 11:33pm

Longer hose works, and after having one fail at a most inconvenient time, why chance further failure?
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Re: Heater-core hose quick connect fitting failure

Postby bbrown [OP] » Aug 16 2013, 1:45pm

In my case the q-connect on the right side when facing the firewall, was the one that failed and it was made of a white plastic material at the hose barbs. When I removed the failed q-connect the plastic was very brittle and I could understand why it broke (probably Made in China). However, the q-connect on the other side (left-side) was not brittle at all and is made with solid black plastic (I tried to break it and could not). I ordered 2 new solid black q-connects and installed them. The new ones were a very tight fit and no leaks so far. Like Dvirgil said, there were no barbs on the heater core nipples to clamp behind and my new hoses would not stretch the extra 1.5"
K&N/Custom Intake, Banks Headers & Tuner, Dual FM Exhaust, 8K HID low beams & Fogs, 1100 watt Infinity & JL Stereo, 200A Alt, 3 Batteries, Power Acoustik PD-740NBT, RV camera, Hayden Tranny Cooler, 243 heads, 1.8 roller rockers
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