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Old 01-14-2007, 19:07   #1 (permalink)
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Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult-easy?

Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult?

Hello.....
I am considering the purchase of a local 1978 Ford Country Squire (last year of the big style) wagon and the owner seems to think it may have a heater core leak, because the windshield will "steam" up when the defroster is turned on.

If it is indeed the heater core, I am wondering if this one of the models that the entire dash has to come out. I know some cars require little removal of the instrument panel, while others require a great deal of removal.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-18-2007, 23:50   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult-easy?

I have never encountered a vehicle that was "easy" when it came to replacing the heater core. It's quite messy & involved, but not impossible. I'm familiar with the full-sized Fords from the 70's (my father once owned a '75 Lincoln Continental, and a '72 Mercury Meteor). Both chassis are very similar to the LTD of the same era, and many basic components are interchangeable (I think Ford in that era used the same steering wheel on all models). If my memory still serves me correctly, you're not going to get to the heater core without removing the entire dash.

As for the original owner thinking it's the heater core - possibly. You can probably smell something that seems "sweet" - that would be the coolant. However, when does the windshield steam up? If it steams up as soon as the car is started, this can be normal under certain conditions when you blow cold air on the windshield. It should go away when the engine warms up. However, if it "steams up" once it's warm, then it's likely the heater core.

Good advice? Don't debate about the heater core - the car is nearly 30 years old. Heater cores, while protected unlike a radiator, do not last forever. If there's enough suspicion pointing to the heater core, you may as well replace it. Good "insurance" for the future.
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Old 01-24-2007, 22:02   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult-easy?

Thanks. Well, according to the person that posted on my other thread in another forum : Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult? , said that the book said it was not necessary. Seems like some Fords of that era were replaceable from the engine bay? We (parents and grandparents) had several 70s Lincolns, but that was in the 70s and 80s when the cars were fairly new and HC's were not needed.

Well, as far as being 30 years old and needing it, I guess I am lucky, unless Fords are more prone to failure, because over the past 5-6 years, I have owned several late 60s to early 70s GM full-size cars and none have had heater core problems. My current 69' Caprice and 73' Grand Ville have had no issues either with the heater cores/HVAC systems (knock on wood).

Thanks again!
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Old 01-24-2007, 22:38   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult-easy?

You've lucked out if you can replace the heater core through the engine bay, and you're very lucky that you haven't had to replace heater cores in cars that old. I've had mixed luck when dealing with cars over 20 years of age. I had to replace the heater core in an old Volvo, and one other old car I use to own. However, the '85 Crown Vic I sold still had it's original heater core, and I still own an '85 Fiero which still has it's original heater core.

Unfortunately for me, every car I've ever replaced a heater core in (I've replaced a few in cars I've owned that were a lot "newer" than 20 years of age) required the removal of the dash.

Easiest experience? A 1993 Honda Accord. Following the manual, the checklist of parts to remove was long - including the removal of the steering column & airbag. However, in practice, it was very easy, as everything was a "unit". The steering column came out all on it's own, without being attached to wires. The dash also came out as a single unit, without being attached to wires. Once the mess of parts were removed, it was easy.

Worst experience: A 1974 Volvo 145. The dash didn't come out as a unit. It was removed in parts, as well as being attached to wires, etc. Beyond the dash was the metal framing for the dash, that really had to be worked around. It was a big pain. Thankfully, I've never had such a nightmare since that one.

As for the Fords being more prone to heater core failures - I don't think this is so.

I apologize for the rambling. Just reflecting on past heater core experiences. Generally speaking, the old full-sized Fords aren't too bad to work on for most things.
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Old 01-25-2007, 22:26   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult-easy?

Thanks for that interesting information. Sounds like you have had a bit of experience in changing them. I guess I have been lucky that none of my older GM cars have needed them replaced. I also have a 1985 Mercedes S-Class, with the original core, as is the one in my 89' Safari wagon. I bet the one in the Mercedes would be a pain to change.

Sounds like that Volvo would be a nightmare. My uncle had a 1985 Ford Thunderbird that the HC went out on in 1997. I remember that he had to remove the ENTIRE dash panel to change it.... and I remember him not being too happy during the process either. It had the V8 and the optional electronic instrument panel, so I am sure there were probably many more electrical wires to deal with.

I had a 91' Accord, but never had any HC problems.... come to think of it, I do not think I ever had any problems with that car.

You are right- I am sure the older Fords had no more problems than any other old car. I am probably just thinking of where I have heard so many problems about the later Crown Victorias, Town Cars and Grand Marquis having the problems with the HC's and the older 80s T-Birds. In fact, this was the first I had ever heard of a HC going out on a old Ford.

As mentioned, it may not even be the HC. A older man has it and he just said he thought the HC was bad because of the "steaming" windshield. He mentioned nothing of anti-freeze. If I can sell a car and make room, I may go ahead and buy it anyway. Hopefully if it is the HC, it will be able to be changed from the engine bay.

Thanks again!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lambykin
You've lucked out if you can replace the heater core through the engine bay, and you're very lucky that you haven't had to replace heater cores in cars that old. I've had mixed luck when dealing with cars over 20 years of age. I had to replace the heater core in an old Volvo, and one other old car I use to own. However, the '85 Crown Vic I sold still had it's original heater core, and I still own an '85 Fiero which still has it's original heater core.

Unfortunately for me, every car I've ever replaced a heater core in (I've replaced a few in cars I've owned that were a lot "newer" than 20 years of age) required the removal of the dash.

Easiest experience? A 1993 Honda Accord. Following the manual, the checklist of parts to remove was long - including the removal of the steering column & airbag. However, in practice, it was very easy, as everything was a "unit". The steering column came out all on it's own, without being attached to wires. The dash also came out as a single unit, without being attached to wires. Once the mess of parts were removed, it was easy.

Worst experience: A 1974 Volvo 145. The dash didn't come out as a unit. It was removed in parts, as well as being attached to wires, etc. Beyond the dash was the metal framing for the dash, that really had to be worked around. It was a big pain. Thankfully, I've never had such a nightmare since that one.

As for the Fords being more prone to heater core failures - I don't think this is so.

I apologize for the rambling. Just reflecting on past heater core experiences. Generally speaking, the old full-sized Fords aren't too bad to work on for most things.
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Old 01-26-2007, 01:07   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult-easy?

I changed the heater core in my '93 Accord a number of years back because every once in a while I could smell antifreeze, but never found any evidence of it. After replacing the heater core, I don't ever recall smelling antifreeze again. That was the only "unusual" component I ever had to replace in that car. Everything else was wear-components like brakes & tires. I loved that car. Unfortunately, it met it's untimely death in Feb., 2004 (kids in SUVs on cell phones do wonders). That particular Accord was the EX-R Coupe made in Ohio - mine had a 5-speed.

The Volvo WAS a nightmare for so many reasons, not just the heater core. I'd take a rusted out old Ford over a good-condition 1970s Volvo any day. The '74 Volvo I had was a 4-cylinder car hauling around 4300 pounds of metal. Mine had the early (CIS) fuel injection system. Unlike fuel injection of today, this system was totally mechanical. It was made by Bosch, and was almost identical to ones found in Saab & VW of the 1970s. The hydraulic brakes were complicated, as there were more than just 2 separate braking systems. Bleeding meant you had to crack open 8 bleed valves, and there was a special sequence.

I grew up in a Ford family. My father had a 1966 Ford Galaxy when I was a very young kid, then he moved up to a 1972 Mercury Meteor in '75, selling the Galaxy. In 1979, a 1975 Lincoln was added to the driveway - we had the Merc & the Lincoln for years. Growing up as a kid, I recall helping my dad with the cars. We even rebuilt the 4-barrel carb in the Lincoln at one point. I can recall a fair bit about both cars, but I don't think heater cores were ever replaced, and I honestly don't recall if they were accessible from the engine bay or not. My guess is no, but who knows? My dad stopped buying North American cars by the mid '80s.

I "recently" sold my Crown Vic & bought a 2005 Accord Coupe. Like my first Coupe, this one is also built in Ohio. Fit & finish is superb - that Ohio plant has a lot to be proud of. I enjoyed the Crown Vic, but the reality is I had no where to park it (too many cars), and it was no longer economical for me to keep. It was just an "old car" in ok shape for it's age. I did find it a new home, so it didn't go to the wrecking yard. I'll remember it fondly.

Once again, I've rambled. My apologies.
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Old 06-28-2007, 20:19   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult-easy?

it's the easiest one i've ever done,
accessible from the engine bay,
i thing you need to remove like 2 screws and thats it,
it just slides out the top,
natt
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Old 08-14-2007, 19:22   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Heater core replacement on a 73-78 full-size LTD - difficult-easy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by texasnatt
it's the easiest one i've ever done,
accessible from the engine bay,
i thing you need to remove like 2 screws and thats it,
it just slides out the top,
natt

Does this apply to Ford 77 LTD?

And secondly, can someone tell me where you connect the Aircon switch connnection too?

My aircon or heating doesnt work, when i followed the cables from the center console switches (the three with knobs on it for heating/cooling) i found them rolled up neatly under the passenger seat with a wierd looking connection on the end.............

Figured (ingeniously) that this was my problem, where does it connect too?
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