Replacing the AC Evaporator on a 2007 Kia Sportage

Updated on July 2, 2018
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Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.

Detached heater and evaporator core housing with bad evaporator
Detached heater and evaporator core housing with bad evaporator

Summary

This repair will detail the steps involved in replacing the AC evaporator on a 2007 Kia Sportage. The evaporator is by far the most difficult and time-consuming part of the AC system to replace, even though the part itself costs less than the compressor and condenser.

My customer had removed his cabin air filter to increase air flow in his cabin. As a result, dust and particulates accumulated on the evaporator core. These deposits became moldy, and the mold absorbed moisture. The moisture caused his evaporator to corrode and eventually leak.

Suggestions Before You Start Replacing an AC Evaporator

  • Have a digital camera with new batteries and prepare to take lots and lots of photos. They will be invaluable during the re-assembly process. When I took out an evaporator on a Toyota Corolla without taking photos, I got so confused as to what went where, I decided to go to a junkyard and disassemble a dash just so I could take photos of it.
  • Place removed parts and components in the order they were removed, along with their nuts, bolts, screws, push pins, etc.
  • Purchase a car panel pry tool set for detaching and removing plastic press-fit components.
  • Pace yourself and do not expect to get it all done in a day. If you get agitated and frustrated, take a break and think about the problem before re-tackling the issue.

Removing the Front Seats

Removing the front seats will ease access and removal of the various dash components, center console, and steering wheel.

  1. Remove the four bolts that hold down each seat. There are two bolts in front and two in the rear. Sliding the seat forward and backwards will provide bolt access. Each bolt is covered with a small plastic cover.
  2. Disconnect the electrical connections below the seat. Tilt each seat back to detach the three electrical connectors.
  3. Fold down the rear seats, and then tilt and lift the front seats and set them on top of the rear seats. This will open up the area in front of the dash.

Removing the Center Console

  1. Remove the center console armrest pocket. Lift up the armrest and remove the lid at the base of the armrest pocket. Remove the two screws at the base of the pocket.
  2. Remove the armrest pocket.
  3. Remove the four hinge screws that hold the armrest to the center console.
  4. Remove the arm rest.
  5. Remove the center console screws and push pins on both sides of the console.
  6. Remove the gearshift knob. A small plastic tab covers the two screws that hold the shift knob in place. Remove the tab and the two screws. The shift knob will come off.
  7. Remove the center console. While pulling up on the console, detach the electrical connector.

Removing the Front Pillar Covers

On each front corner of the dash are the pillar covers. You have to pull off a plastic tab to expose the screw behind the cover. The tab is one quarter length down from the top of the headliner. Remove the tab and screw. Pull on the pillar cover to detach it from the pillar frame and then pull it away from the dash. This will expose the dash's corner mounting bolts.

Removing the Dash Side Covers, Kick Plate, and Foot Well Plastic Side Covers

  1. Remove the door kick plates by pulling on them. The push pins will give way.
  2. Pull and separate the door seals from the front of where the kick plates were to the top of the dash.
  3. Remove the foot well plastic side covers on each side of the car. Pull to release the push pin fastener tension.
  4. Remove the dash's driver- and passenger-side covers. The left side exposes the fuse box. The right side is just a cover. Use a thin-tipped screw or an L-shaped plastic pry tool to pry the right side off.

Removing the Under-Dash Covers

  1. Remove the under-dash cover below the steering wheel. Unscrew the two screws and tug on the cover to release the tension on the push pins.
  2. Disconnect the hood latch cable from the hood latch lever connected to the under dash cover.
  3. Remove the under dash covers that matted to the center console. Remove the screws that hold them in place.

Removing the Glove Box

  1. Remove the left and right glove box black plastic stops.
  2. Remove the glove box plastic hinge pins.
  3. Behind the glove box hinge is a metal support bracket. Remove the bracket by unbolting the two 10 mm bolts that holds it in place.
  4. Above the glove box opening is a yellow wire connection to the passenger airbag. Disconnect the connection.
  5. To the bottom right of the glove box opening is a glove box light switch. Push the switch out of its place holder and disconnect the wire connectors.

Removing the Instrument Cluster

  1. Remove the top two screws that hold the black plastic instrument cover. Pull on the cover to release the push pin tension.
  2. Remove the four screws that hold the instrument cluster. Pull out and tilt the cluster to expose the three electrical fittings.
  3. Disconnect the electrical fittings and remove the instrument cluster.
  4. Remove the small rectangular panel which holds the instrument cluster dimmer control. It is located to the left of the steering wheel below the dash vent. It must be pried out with a pry tool.

Removing the Center Dash Panel and Radio

  1. Using an angled pick or small plastic pry bar, pull on the edges of the upper dash panel until the push pin pressure releases tension on the dash panel. Disconnect the electric connectors behind the panel.
  2. Remove the four screws that hold the radio in place and disconnect the electrical fitting and the antenna lead.

Removing the Steering Wheel

  1. Two plastic steering column covers (upper and lower) are behind the steering wheel. Remove the screws in the lower cover.
  2. Pry the plastics apart, then remove the covers.
  3. There is a shift selector locking cable leading from the steering wheel ignition to the center console transmission shift selector. Detach the cable from the shift selector.
  4. Remove the bolts that hold the metal plate below the steering column.
  5. Disconnect all steering column electrical connections.
  6. At the end of the steering column is a 12-mm bolt that links the column to the steering U-joint. Apply alignment paint marks where the column splines meet the U-joint. You will use these marks when re-connecting the steering column with the U joint. Remove the bolt.
  7. Remove the four nuts and bolts that hold the steering column to the dash cross member. Removing them will drop the steering column.
  8. Detach the steering column from the U-joint.

Detach steering wheel electrical connections
Detach steering wheel electrical connections

Disconnecting All Electrical Connections, Ground Points and Cable Support Fasteners

There are just too many electrical connections, cable support fasteners, 10-mm bracket bolts, and ground points to name for detachment or removal. Take photos for future reference when reassembling these components.

Removing the Dash

The dash is connected to the front corners of the chassis at the base of the removed pillar covers and various dash cross-member connection points (the cross member is a large metal bar behind the dash that runs the width of the car with two vertical bars to the base of the car). Pulling and tugging on the dash will reveal the mounting and fastening points where bolts will need to be removed. There are 10-mm bolts on each side of the dash, three 12-mm bolts underneath the passenger side air bag, an electrical fitting to the glove box, etc. These must be identified, and detached, removed, or disconnected. Position yourself in the center of the dash and, with both hands, pull and angle out the dash.

Dash almost ready for removal
Dash almost ready for removal

Removing the Dash Cross Member

  1. With the dash cross member exposed, remove all electrical wire support fittings from the cross member. Everything attached to the cross member must be removed.
  2. Remove the bolts that hold the cross member to the chassis of the car. The two vertical support pillars are bolted to the floor...the left and right side of the cross member by three bolts...underneath where the steering column resided, two bolts.
  3. Position yourself in the center of the cross member. Pulling on the cross member will release the horizontal guide posts away from the chassis. Move the wire harness away from the cross member during removal.

Now, the heater and evaporator housing assembly is exposed. Just three bolts hold the housing onto the firewall. But the housing cannot be removed until the heater hose and evaporator connections in the engine compartment have been disconnected.

Dash removed
Dash removed
Dash cross member removed
Dash cross member removed

Disconnecting the Heater Hoses and Evaporator Supply and Return Lines

The heater hoses and evaporator supply and return connection points must be disconnected from the firewall within the engine compartment. In the Kia Sportage, access to these connection points is next to impossible unless the intake manifold is removed. And removal of the intake manifold is difficult unless the wiper assembly cowling is first removed. The cowling hangs over the manifold and makes it difficult to gain access to the manifold bracket bolts.

Removing the Wiper Assembly Cowling

  1. Use a pry tool to remove the wiper arm plastic nut covers.
  2. Remove the nuts from both the left and right wiper arms.
  3. Wiggle the arms off the wiper assembly spline connection points.
  4. Remove the rubber weatherstripping.
  5. Remove the push pins on each corner of the upper plastic cowling and remove the cowling.
  6. Disconnect the electrical fitting attached to the wiper motor and push the fitting with the rubber insulator through the lower cowling hole.
  7. Remove the three bolts that hold the wiper motor assembly and remove the assembly.
  8. Remove the 10-mm bolts that hold the lower cowling and remove the cowling.

Removing the Intake Manifold

  1. Detach all hoses, throttle cable mounting points, and electrical fittings on the intake manifold. Electrical fittings held by wire clips can be pinched off ... no need to remove the wire.
  2. Remove the four bolts that hold the throttle body to the intake manifold and move the throttle body off of the manifold. Detach the cables on the throttle body.
  3. Remove the bracket mount bolts. They're located behind the intake manifold by the firewall and cannot be seen; they must be removed by feel. Any inspection mirror with a swivel head tool can assist you in locating the general area where they're located.
  4. Remove the nuts and bolts that hold the front of the intake manifold.
  5. Lift up and remove the intake manifold.

Removing the Supply and Return Heater Hoses From the Heater Core

  1. Pinch and move the spring clamps away from the heater core pipe connection point.
  2. Pull the hoses off the heater core pipes. Hose pliers make it easier to twist the hoses off.
  3. Remove the heater core pipe shield connected to the firewall.

Disconnecting the Expansion Valve From the Evaporator Core

  1. Remove the 10-mm bolt holding the expansion valve to the evaporator core.
  2. Wiggle, pull, and tug on the expansion valve to release the connection.
  3. Remove the evaporator core shield connected to the firewall.

Before removing the intake manifold
Before removing the intake manifold
Removed intake manifold; detached evaporator  lines and heater hoses
Removed intake manifold; detached evaporator lines and heater hoses
Detached evaporator and heater core
Detached evaporator and heater core
Removed engine compartment components
Removed engine compartment components

Removing the Heater and Evaporator Core Housing

Just three bolts hold the heater and evaporator core housing to the firewall. After the bolts are removed, the housing can be pulled out with the condensation tube and blower motor attached. The two rectangular plastic air ducts must be detached at the base of the housing when pulling it off.

Heater and Evaporator Housing Removed
Heater and Evaporator Housing Removed

Removing the Evaporator Core

  1. Remove all the Phillips screws that couple the left side of the heater / evaporator core housing to the right. Use a pry tool to separate the housing.
  2. Remove the plastic tab that holds the supply and return evaporator port tubes in place.
  3. Remove the evaporator core.

Heater and Evaporator Core Housing
Heater and Evaporator Core Housing
Heater and Evaporator Housing detached
Heater and Evaporator Housing detached
Ruined evaporator core
Ruined evaporator core

Installing the New Evaporator Core

  1. Position the new evaporator into the housing.
  2. Apply RTV where the evaporator port tubes contact the plastic tab.
  3. Install the plastic tab that holds the port tubes in place.

Old vs New Evaporator Core
Old vs New Evaporator Core

Re-assembling the Heater and Evaporator Core Housing

When bringing the housing together, the air direction and blend door hinge points must be in alignment with the hinge point holes. Place screwdrivers through the holes to assist alignment with the door hinges. Connection points are grooved and pinned.

Installing the Heater and Evaporator Housing on the Firewall

When installing the heater and evaporator housing:

  1. Align the bottom air ducts of the housing with the floor ducts.
  2. Push through the condensation vent tube through the vent tube hole.
  3. Align the housing with the mounting points and screw on the mounting bolts.

Re-connecting the Heater Hoses and Evaporator Supply and Return Lines

  1. Re-install the evaporator core shield.
  2. Re-install the heater core shield.
  3. Connect the heater core hoses and move the spring clamps to the heater core pipe connection point.
  4. Replace the expansion valve O-rings with new ones. Lubricate with di-electric grease or compressor oil.
  5. Connect the expansion valve to the evaporator core tubes. Torque down the connection with the 10-mm bolt that holds it in place.
  6. Re-install the intake manifold in the order it was removed.
  7. Re-install the wiper cowling assembly in the order it was removed.

Installing the Dash Cross Member

  1. Move the dash cross member back into the car. Position yourself in the center of the cross member and align the horizontal guide posts in the chassis post holes. In addition, ensure the vertical support pillars on the cross member are align with the bolt hole mounting points.
  2. Before pushing the cross member forward into the guide post holes, lift the wire harness onto the top of the cross member. Refer to your pictures to push the harness fasteners back into their respective connection points and to position smaller harnesses into their appropriate positions.
  3. With all harnesses positioned, push the cross member forward to lock in the guide posts. Hand-tighten all mounting bolts to allow movement of the cross member to allow centering of other mounting bolts.
  4. Re-check all harness positions, harness fasteners and electrical connectors. Ensure everything is in its correct location.
  5. Torque down all cross member support bolts.
  6. Connect or bolt everything that mounts onto to cross member. For example, the fuse box, the white box behind the main wire harness, ground straps, etc. Refer to your pictures.

Re-installing the Dash

  1. Move the dash back into the car and position yourself where the dash can be centered. Observing each corner of the dash, angle the top portion of the dash where the windshield meets the chassis of the car. Apply adjustments and check the fit. If everything is in alignment, there should be a clear path to each dash mounting bolt. Ensure the cables for connecting the instrument panel is situated through the panel openings in the dash.
  2. Hand-tighten all dash mounting bolts.
  3. Attach all electrical fittings.
  4. Apply final torque to all dash mounting bolts.

Re-installing the Steering Wheel

  1. Have the steering wheel mounting nuts and bolts on hand.
  2. Match the paint marks on the steering wheel column splines with the steering U-joint. Slip the splines into the U-joint.
  3. Raise the steering column until the column support bracket holes pass through the 2 bolt studs on the dash cross member.
  4. Screw on the column support bracket nuts and bolts and torque down.
  5. Insert the torque down the steering U-joint bolt.
  6. Attach the electrical fittings.
  7. Re-attach the shift selector locking cable.
  8. Bolt on the metal plate that goes below the steering column.
  9. Re-attach the upper and lower plastic steering column covers that go behind the steering wheel.

Re-installing the Center Dash Panel and Radio

  1. Connect the radio's electrical fitting and antenna lead.
  2. Position the radio back in its slot and screw in the four mounting screws.
  3. Connect the dash panel's electrical fittings.
  4. Push back the center dash panel back in. Ensure all the push pins are lined up.

Re-installing the Instrument Cluster

  1. Reconnect the instrument cluster dimmer control electrical connections and push it back into the dash opening to the left of the steering wheel and below the left air vent.
  2. Connect all the electrical fittings onto the instrument cluster.
  3. Install the four screws that hold the instrument panel in place.
  4. Install the black plastic instrument cover onto the instrument cluster and the two top screws that hold it in place.

Re-installing the Foot Well Side Covers, Kick Plate, Dash Side Covers, and Under-Dash Covers

  1. Install the dash's driver and passenger side covers. The left side exposes the fuse box.
  2. Install the left and right side plastic foot well covers below each corner of the dash.
  3. Push back in the door seals from the kick plate area to the top of the dash.
  4. Install the left and right side door kick plates.
  5. Install the left and right under-dash covers that will later mate with the center console.
  6. Install the under-dash cover below the steering wheel. First reconnect the hold latch cable. Push in, then secure with the two screws.

Re-installing the Front Pillar Covers

Install the left and right pillar covers on each corner of the dash. Push into the corners, align the push pins, and push into place. Screw in the retention screw on each pillar cover and install the pillar cover hole tabs.

Re-installing the Center Console

  1. Position the center console by moving the corresponding slots on the console over the gear shift and parking brake handle slots. Attach the electrical connector at the rear of the console.
  2. Reattach the gear shift knob and screw on the two screws that hold the shift knob in place. Push in the plastic gear shift knob screw cover.
  3. Position the arm rest hinge on to the back of the console. Screw in the four retention screws.
  4. Install the arm rest pocket and screw in the two retention screws.
  5. Install the arm rest pocket lid.
  6. Install the console side screws and push pins on both sides of the console.

Re-installing the Front Seats

  1. Position each seat over its mounting points. Tilt the seat back to attach the three electrical fittings.
  2. Install the four bolts that hold down each seat, sliding the seat forward and back to gain access between the front and rear mounting points.
  3. Cover each bolt with its respective plastic cover.

Evacuating and Recharging the System

Evacuate the air conditioning system and recharge it with Freon to complete the repair (the process is described in my other article, as performed on a Toyota Sienna).

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 hardlymoving

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