97-03 F150 Heater Core Repair

Discussion in 'General Tech' started by StinkZJ97, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. StinkZJ97

    StinkZJ97 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    My heater core went out in my 97 f150....the dealerships want 800+ to fix it and local shops are asking the same b/c it is such a job (as the entire dash has to come out).

    This isn't really a job I feel comfortable getting into. Has anybody paid a shop to do this that was less than $800...and did a good job?

    Just lookin for a little advice. I figure eventually I'll just take it to FORD. It hasn't leaked but about 1/8 in. of coolant from my resevoir in 4 days but I have had it diagnosed as the heater core (and from the smell in the cab it has to be the core).

    Thanks guys
    -Josh
  2. Jeff B

    Jeff B pool boy

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    Lincolnton N.C.
    bars leak
  3. StinkZJ97

    StinkZJ97 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Thanks for replying but unfortunately I have already tried that and it didn't seal the leak

    I would have thought it would as small as the crack/ pin hole has to be but luck never happen in autos

    thanks again

    -Josh
  4. StinkZJ97

    StinkZJ97 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Also, I was told a bypass wouldn't work for the summer b/c this year F150 has male/female couplers on the hoses and it wasn't as easy at cutting and connecting the bypass hoses
  5. doc

    doc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    Thomasville
    Any kind of "plugging" fix like bars leak will sometimes kill your heat output (clogging the core).....makes the winter a little chilly.

    $800 is crazy....why in the hell would Ford stick a somewhat servicable part under/behind the dash?!?

    I've had two of these trucks ('99 2wd - '00 4wd)....good trucks, but that is ridiculous!!

    Good luck!
    Doc
  6. Blkvoodoo

    Blkvoodoo Letting the smoke out Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    Archer Lodge
    Heater cores are a bitch, plain and simple. labor time on an s-10 Blazer (2001) is 8.5 hours, and unless you've done a a dozen or so, you'll be hard pressed to make time on it.

    Considering labor rate is in the $80+ range at most dealerships, $80 x 8.5= $680, plus the part cost ( $50ish aftermarket, dealer proably more) $730, add in misc. shop fees, tax, a few seals and some coolant. yeah, $800 is about right.

    It's a bitch, some newer cars are easier, others not so.

    Your best bet to get it right is the dealer, odds are, they have a guy who loves 'em, and can make gravy on the job, you still pay the bill, but you are also paying for his experiance. ASK the service writer, if you get the feeling he's a slime ball and lying to you, go somewhere else, your truck, your $$$, you need to know it's going to be done right.

    There is a fella here on the board, who is a parts guru at a ford dealer (in Raleigh) maybe he has a guy who'll do it on the side.
  7. yager

    yager Better Faster Stronger

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Wake Forest, NC
    I would at least crawl under and take a look, I was lead to believe it would require removing the entire dash on my truck (95 chevy) but in fact it turned out to be a casual 2 hour job from turning truck off to starting it back up.. It was obvious once i started taking some covers off.
  8. StinkZJ97

    StinkZJ97 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Unfortunately I am sure you have to take out the dash...it is located between the firewall and the dash and there is no easy way in....the older F150s made it able to take out the glove box and the core was right there....unfortunately with airbags etc...the whole dash has to come out

    thanks for tryin to help though...I am just waiting for a hint on a good place to take it and if no luck...to the dealership I go to spend a crapload
  9. SEAIRESCUE

    SEAIRESCUE Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Location:
    SO Pines
    I have had really good luck using a stop leak that looks like a small film container full of either gold or silver glitter. I would flush out that Bars stuff including removing the block drains then after a refill of just water, put in the "glitter". Its activated by heat so it may take 5 minutes or more to seal the spot. Not sure if it will seal a split but good at plugging holes. BTW, if its a corrosion hole, you need to flush the block including pulling the block drains and run lots of water through it until it clears.

    My $0.02 :beer:
  10. StinkZJ97

    StinkZJ97 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Thanks man...until I figure out what I'm gonna do, everyone's $0.02 is welcome
  11. hscrugby

    hscrugby Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Hehe, I'll help you deal with your hvac crap. If the following weekend you help me deal with mine?

    Granted very different vehicles, but still going to suck for both of us taking apart a dashboard. :D
  12. StinkZJ97

    StinkZJ97 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    its a good idea....but this truck in my DD and I don't know if my first time takin the whole dash, HVAC, etc. apart should be on a DD.

    right now I am just plannin on driving a family members fine specimen of a vehicle....a '88 2wd Ford danger Ranger...its gonna be sweet

    I'll let you know w/ a 'pm if I decide to rip it apart
    thanks
    -Josh
  13. BlueRidgeRunner

    BlueRidgeRunner New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Roxboro, NC
    Keep in mind that a heater core replacement on this vehicle should be replaced with a aftermarket brass core rather than a stock aluminum core. A complete coolant flush will also be necessary. Use new antifreeze and distilled water. Also use some of Ford's Motorcraft FW 17 diesel cooling additive. This cooling system has a terrible electrolysis problem. I have seen repeated failures because of the electrolysis problem. Ford has a TSB that states to add a ground strap also but the distilled water and additive seem to do the best job. Good luck.
  14. StinkZJ97

    StinkZJ97 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Reviving my old thread...Heater Core

    So I started this thread almost a year ago and appreciate everyone's advice. I stop-leaked the heater core but it came back last month. I had a good referall to a radiator shop right near my house and it is getting fixed as we speak.

    My question for anyone who can help pertains the last post made on this thread by Blueridgerunner.

    "Keep in mind that a heater core replacement on this vehicle should be replaced with a aftermarket brass core rather than a stock aluminum core. A complete coolant flush will also be necessary. Use new antifreeze and distilled water. Also use some of Ford's Motorcraft FW 17 diesel cooling additive. This cooling system has a terrible electrolysis problem. I have seen repeated failures because of the electrolysis problem. Ford has a TSB that states to add a ground strap also but the distilled water and additive seem to do the best job. Good luck."

    I am assuming from this advice that deisel additive coolant can be used on any engine?

    Anyone know if an electrolysis inhibiting additive works. I dont know if I have electrolysis or not, but don't want to find out in 3 months when the core goes again. I figure a bottle of additive is worth the headaches that can be prevented. Any advice or knowledge about these additives anyone would like to share?

    (I know Deisel Engineering In. (DEI) makes a gas engine additive for coolant systems).

    Thanks guys,

    Josh
  15. Eastern

    Eastern Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Location:
    morrisville
    I had a 98 f-150 that the heater core started leaking, I have changed many heater cores but this one was probably the hardest , it took me about 7 hours to change, and nearly every part of the dash had to come out. Now the electrolysis, was brought up before I changed the core, but I just flushed the system out and used distilled war, and drove it until I sold it 3 yrs later. The only time I believe electrolysis may have been a problem was on a 94 suburban. I installed a new heater core, and about 3 months later it began leaking again. I installed a new core and flushed it out and have not had a problem since.
  16. JoshRountree

    JoshRountree Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Location:
    Fleetwood, NC
    Would a sacrificial anode help?
  17. NCJeepin

    NCJeepin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Conway, SC
    I just put one in my 2000 Expedition... 800 bucks is about right.. It sucks, but just the nature of the beast...just think of all the other cash you have saved by buying such a reliable well built vehicle and the 800 doesnt hurt as bad
  18. StinkZJ97

    StinkZJ97 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Thanks for everyone's help

    Well I got my truck back and everything is running great. I did find out that my coolant system is only running about .25 V (DC). Electrolysis issues begin at about .3 V. So I dont have electrolysis...but I need to keep an eye on it b/c I could break that barrier.

    There are rumors about running extra ground straps and using additives but I have heard of no solid evidence proving they work. Having said this, they can't hurt. I asked my radiator man about dropping a diode in there....since the 97 F150 has the radiator cap/ resevior combo, this could be difficult. It may help.....but it may not. From what I have discovered, electrolysis is a hard to beat problem that in many cases has no fix at all.

    Thanks to everyone who posted replies to my original message last year. Not only is my truck fixed, I learned alot about heat/ coolant systems.

    -J
  19. pgh_4x4

    pgh_4x4 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Location:
    Pgh
    Ford has articles on how to use a volt meter to determine if you have to worry about electrolysis for your vehicle.

    I came across this thread while searching for 2001 F150 heater core replacement. A shop (owned by a good friend of an acquaintence...) quoted me $450 for the job. Ford asked for my phone number and said they'd call me back with an estimate and never did. Anyhow, shortly after smelling antifreeze and seeing slight moisture on the windshield it suddenly went away. But two months later (two days ago) it came back with a vengeance (just as PA's weather is dropping). No doubt it's the heater core. I think $450 isn't a bad price to pay but I always do work if I think/know I can. I've found some step by step instructions for similar years and it's not pretty but I figure I can drive my car while my truck is in pieces. Hopefully you've had yours fixed by now. I plan on taking pix and writing down step by step instructions during my replacement to hopefully help someone else with a 2001 F150 4x4 heater core replacement.
  20. bfeller

    bfeller Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Location:
    RTP
    Check out this forum and search for heater core replacement. Some one has a write up on how to do it. Rather than removing the entire dash/steering column and such - you end up dropping the steering column onto the front seat and pulling the dash forward on the drivers side, the passenger side goes over onto to the front seat, exposing the heater core box.

    I did mine in about 6 hours while suffering from whiplash and a severe concussion. It's a chore, but the instructions were perfect and certainly saved me a load of cash.

    I do suggest replacing the blend door motor at the same time. The motor is the low point of the heater box and collects the coolant that leaks.
  21. pgh_4x4

    pgh_4x4 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Location:
    Pgh
    I'll check the site now. Thanks for the advice/info. Anything to make the job easier is MUCH appreciated!
  22. Clay S

    Clay S New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    F-150 Heater Solution without removing the dash

    There is an interesting option to removing the dash and spending a day replacing the heater core. That is to install an aftermarket heater like one offered by Mojave. It can be done in half the time and cost half as much. Check out installation instructions on a 97 F150 V8 at http://www.rcsefi.org/F-150_Heater.html
  23. rustyolred

    rustyolred New Member

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    Jun 9, 2008
    Location:
    denton, nc
    pm'ed you
  24. pgh_4x4

    pgh_4x4 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Location:
    Pgh
    I couldn't find anything on this site that shows how to do it, but I did find some good instructions from another site for a '97. Seems that the 97s aren't too different from the 2001s. I hope to have my truck back on the road tomorrow evening (just in time for the snow forecast!)

    http://www.the-mullens.com/heatercore

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