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My 2013 Passat now has about 65,000 miles on it and is on its 4th heater core. I knew the heater core was clogged because there was no heat on the passenger side, but I didn't want to spend yet another $1,000 to fix it. The dealer claimed the heater core was a "wear item" and made us pay each time to get it replaced.

It recently started overheating - specifically after a long drive in hot weather, it would overheat when stopped. I had my (independent) mechanic tear apart the entire cooling system and what he found was pretty nasty.

Bottom of heater core:
Automotive lighting Hood Guitar accessory Bumper Motor vehicle


Top of heater core:
Shoe Musical instrument Folk instrument Wood Gas


He hasn't had a chance to cut the radiator in half yet, but I am assuming it will be pretty similar. He is going to do a major flush of the whole cooling system and replace the thermostat while he is in there (by the time this is done, it will cost me about $2,000)

Is this normal? Is there any other part that should be specifically checked/replaced?
 

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It seems your car's antifreeze was mixed with the wrong type of antifreeze.
See the links below as well as many other sites showing the results and clogging damage of mixing the wrong and different types of antifreeze together in the car's cooling system.



Good luck,
 

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Looks like rust. Radiator and core are aluminum but block is iron, so that's the source. A clogged heater core will not make the car over heat, but if the core looks like that the radiator will too and that's the bigger problem. For me, I'd install the new heater core but not pipe it to the system. Put in new radiator and distilled water and maybe some citric acid flush. At the end of a day's drive, drain the system and top off with distilled water. I did this ten times over two weeks on a VW before the liquid was clear. Then you can put in another new radiator if you're not confident it's completely clean, and only then do you connect the heater core because it's so difficult to change compared to the radiator. Both of those act like filters, so no need to clog up both at the same time. Use correct VW coolant. Always. If you're stranded use distilled water.
 
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