TIP: Aerostar heater core replacement

One of the hazards encountered buying a beater is that you'd better pay attention to any tidbits thrown your way by the previous owner.
In this case, "heater sprung a little leak, but some stop-leak took care of
it"
So, that explained to me the poor performance of the heater when it turned cold, but the REAL problem was when it gave way in a construction zone - nowhere to pull over- and filled the cabin with sweet steam, fogging all the windows and losing coolant fast.
So here's what's entailed in replacing the heater core:
The part at my local stores is about 33 bucks, the coupling disconnect tool at Autozone, 12 bucks.. returnable for credit.
BUT - you'd better just head for the Ford parts counter and buy at least one heater hose coupling clip before you start.. they come packaged with o-rings so, much the better. About EIGHT BUCKS! Yeah I know it's piracy, but better than trying to use clamps in that location.
* clips from ford *1/4 inch drive metric socket set w/ driver handle *above tool {sleeve type disconnects wont work, no room to work} *inspection mirror *Plumbers SILICONE grease - Lowes, HD about 4 bucks
Reading the directions on the Autozone site is misleading, Doesnt describe preliminary access to cover or difficulty in removing hose clips. Since I didnt have a book or complete instructions, it took me 4 hours... I could probably do it again in under two. Here's what to do, based on my mistakes..
Disconnect the hoses first, cooling system need not be drained (rad cap off). You'll find the tool doesnt really work all that great, wrapping the (larger) tangs with a couple layers metallic duct tape will help. Metallic because it's more slippery to allow detents to be pushed in. Maybe apply silicone grease will help.
Push forward on tool then pull on hose, nylon clip will remain on tubing but must be removed to pull the core out. Use what's on hand and ingenuity to remove the clips. Maybe a wire coat hanger, doubled back with 90 degree tangs on end to lift the detents on clips.. worst case, cut the clip about 90 deg from the tangs.
You should see 2 o-rings and nylon spacer, same size as o-rings, on each stub or in the hose end. Remove and store.
Now remove glove box door, box retaining screws, harness connector bracket, courtesy lamp, and all right hand side lower dash screws in that order, leave harness ground screw on.
Pull lower dash out a few inches and remove glove box
Remove 3 upper access cover screws and two lower screws, one faces you and one at bottom, just above carpet..
Pull (wiggle and cuss) cover down and out.
Push upper left retention clip up and wiggle core out. If foam is shot, as it probably will be.. just discard it. The core fits snug enough, IMO.
Install new core, check upper retention clip, and wiggle and work (and cuss) the cover into place.. note there is interference with trim, etc, make sure the cover lip is outside of the plenum housing on all sides and screw holes line up.
Install cover screws, then connect hoses before restoring dash:
Clean inside of hose connectors, then silicone (only) grease the core nipples, clean the o-rings if reusing or lightly grease new ones, insert into hoses couplings: rubber, nylon, rubber in that order
Insert nylon clips into hose connector and push onto core tubing nipples, make sure they lock on. DO NOT RE-USE DAMAGED CLIPS if you can help it..esp one that's missing a detent... you WILL be SORRY!
Top off coolant, tighten rad cap and start engine and bring to temp to check for leaks..
BET IT DOESNT START!!!!
Because you tripped the fuel pump interlock which is just on the other side of the kick panel from the heater cover... push in the red button to reset it. NOW start it.
Dont be surprised if there's an initial drip before the o-rings seat with coolant pressure, wiggle hose to make sure after engine gets to temp.
**** WARNING: NEVER test a heater core for leaks with house plumbing connection*** If you insist on testing, connect it to hoses under the hood and bring up to temp before installing.
Once everything is tested right, as installed, reinstall glove box, dash and Glove door.
Remember where that fuel cutoff is!
--
- Yes, I'm a crusty old geezer curmudgeon.. deal with it! -

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Backyard Mechanic opined

I should have headed on to NAPA, 3.99 for the clip without the o-rings Balkamp 7304948

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Backyard Mechanic wrote:

Considering what it what have cost at a ford dealer, i think you came out on the deal ;)
Bob

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Bob Urz opined in

In fact... not having a clip on hand cost me about 6 dollars worth of anti- freeze... so a dealer clip would have been a good trade off... that's what I ended up with, anyway, because when the hose blew off, one o-ring and the nylon spacer went with the coolant. See below

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