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Old 04-02-2013, 17:13   #1 (permalink)
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2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

2004 Freestar heater core removal

The following is how I replaced the heater core on our 2004 Freestar. This may or may not be the best way, but it’s how I did it. If you have suggestions, feel free to send me a note.

Why are we doing this? The heater core is leaking. The heater core is a small radiator that air blows across and heats the cabin. With age and bad coolant change practices, the heater core can corrode and leak coolant into the cabin. On this Freestar, there is a tray underneath the heater core and it directs coolant into the engine compartment. There is a tube that you can see that will show signs of coolant dripping from it, but the most common indication is a coolant smell in the cabin and/or the cold windshield fogging up when you turn on the defroster. Here is a picture of the tube in the engine compartment.



This is just about dead center of the firewall between the engine and cabin. This picture was taken after the windshield cowling was removed, otherwise you would have to look from below.

So, now that you know that you need to remove the heater core, what do you do? Well, do it yourself, of course. There are just a few tools that may not be in a common tool kit, but they are readily available.

Here is a picture of almost everything I used:



7mm, 8mm, 11 mm and 13mm sockets

T45 Torx bit (ST #3) with extension

15mm wrench, 10mm wrench

2ea 8X1.25 mm bolts as long as you can find. 3 inches minimum

Extensions, ratchets, screwdrivers, etc.

I was surprised at how few tools it took.

Lets get started, shall we?

Start by doing what all the instructions say and that is disconnect the negative battery cable. Since there will be a bunch of wire connectors disconnected, it’s best to play it safe. This will also depower the Supplemental Restraint System. Next insert the key in the ignition and turn it to unlock the steering wheel. You will want to be able to turn it on reassembly.

Remove the windshield cowling and wiper tray:

Lift the nut covers from the windshield wipers and remove the nuts with your 15mm wrench.

Drivers side shown:



With the hood open, lift the drivers side wiper up at the hinge and wiggle it back and forth and it will come loose. Close the hood and do the same for the passenger side.

Now remove the four plastic screws and pull the center part of the fasteners out. Sometimes the centers want to turn, or the screws don’t want to thread out. You will just have to get creative if things don’t go easily.



Now find and disconnect the windshield washer hose located above the the power steering reservoir. It just pulls apart:



Remove the cover for the cabin air filter and push the tube up along with the grommet:



Grab the cowl where it meets the windshield and pop it out of the clips. Wiggle it this way and that and it will come out.

Now, there are 8 screws to remove. 2 short ones on the ends of the wiper tray. Passenger side:



Drivers side:



Then remove the four long bolts around the air intakes:



Continued in the next post.
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Old 04-02-2013, 17:14   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

Now go around to the drivers side and disconnect the wiper motor harness:



Remove the wiper tray and set aside.

Now you can see the heater hoses.

<Sorry, I forgot to take pictures>

Clamp them and remove them from the tubes.

Close the hood and move to the inside. Open both front doors and both side doors so you can store stuff there.

Remove the plastic covers over the A-pillars. Just grasp and pull (Hereafter referred to as G&P).

Remove the door sill scuff plates. G&P.

Remove the plastic panel between the scuff plates and the A-pillar covers. Again, G&P, but start at the top because there is a bit that is hooked in at the bottom:



Open the glove compartment door and squeeze to lower it:



That’s the rubber bumper and it just squeezes in (one on each side) and the glove box will open wide, dumping all of its contents on the floor.

Remove the three screws in the hinge area:



Not start unhooking stuff. There is a bunch of wire connectors, but don’t worry about getting things hooked up wrong. It just can’t be done because everything will lay right where it needs to and every connector is different.

Start with the grounds right inside the center, side panel you will find these:



3, 8mm head bolts and the radio antenna connector. I just put the bolts back in their holes.

Next are other connectors in the glove box opening:



On this one, (and others on the drivers side) squeeze as shown, then flip the bail:



Blower motor resistor block:



Continued next post.
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Old 04-02-2013, 17:14   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

And unclip this harness from the blower motor case, remove the bolt in the bracket above it and disconnect the blower motor:



I found it easiest to remove the cup holder next. Pull out the cup holder and use a screw driver and push the clips in. This is where they are:



You need a long screw driver to reach them. With this out, removing and installing the center console is easy; otherwise that drawer gets in the way.

Remove the two plastic screws in the center, lower cover. Driver side shown:



Move to the other side and remove the other two screws. Disconnect the power point connectors:



Now remove the center console.

Remove the three screws at the bottom of the knee panel:



G&P the top of the panel, hinge it all the way down and remove:



Remove the two screws on the panel behind the knee panel:



Remove the lower support bracket. Two screws on each side:



Continued next post.
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Old 04-02-2013, 17:17   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

Then remove the duct for the floor vents: pop it out of the bottom first, then pull down.



Remove the bracket:



Remove the two nuts with the 11mm and you will need to spread the tops of the bracket a bit to get it to go around and backwards then up to remove. Note the way that it goes in and remember that it doesn’t go in the easy way. (Once you get it out, you will understand)

Back to ripping connectors off.

Follow this harness down and disconnect it from everything including the clip to the support:



This little one:



And these two big ones with the bails:



Now find the plastic sheathed cable for the shift lever. It goes through the firewall and winds around near the hood release. Follow it up under the dash and to the right of the steering column, grab a flash light and find the end of it:



Use that trim tool and just pop it off.

Now find the bracket and unhook it. I used the trim tool and pried back the lock and the cable pushes up and out:



Here it is unhooked so you can see what you are after:



The piece on top in this picture pries away from the bracket, disengaging the tit there from the hole.

Continued next post.
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Old 04-02-2013, 17:18   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

Disconnect these two connectors:



They are both bail-type, but on these, you push a thingie to flip the bail:



That’s it for wire connectors underneath. Just one more to go.

The front piece of the dash lifts up with a G&P. On ours there is a light there for whatever reason and it gets disconnected:



Now hinge it up and remove it.

This gets you access to the rest of the screws. There are four 7mm headed screws and one 10mm headed bolt. Center:



Right:



Left:



10 mm Bolt:



Now remove the upper bolts at the ends of the dash. Left:



Right:



Take your long 8mm headless bolts and thread them into those two holes.

Just three more bolts in the next post.
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Old 04-02-2013, 17:18   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

Two below the ones you just removed. Left:



Right:



And one, up, behind the hood release:



Now, slide the dash back and remove it. The steering shaft will slide out and flop down.

Pretty cool, to just pull that big old hunk out. It took me about an hour to get it out. That included taking pictures.



Now to the core of the matter.

Now you can see where that funky smell from the spilled Mochas come from:



Remove the bolt and the nut and set the bracket down.



That bolt on the bottom goes to the outside, so it may be rusted in. Good luck with that. If it comes out use neverseize on it going back in.

Remove the bolts holding the front ducting on there should be five of them. One of them is a pain and since this is the second time I have done this, that one is now on a slot rather than a hole. You can see one of them in the picture above and two more in the front the last one is rear, center:



The reason for the long studs when removing the dash is so that it doesn’t fall down and break off the tabs in the second picture up. Fortunately, I have learned how to do a bit of plastic repair with a soldering gun, and I fixed that.

Pop off the clips holding the harness that goes around the housing. Seven bolts secure the bottom half of the housing. Four:



Two on this side:



And one real bugger. I used the flex extension on this one. Here I have the flex extension on the (adjective deleted) screw:



Now the bottom half drops down and now you can just grab the heater core and wiggle it out. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of that. Bummer, but I’m NOT going back in there.

Continued next post.
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Old 04-02-2013, 17:19   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

Icky:



The JB weld held, but it’s leaking in about four other places, so it’s time:



The new heater core came with a new foam seal that goes here:



For reassembly, read up.
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Old 04-02-2013, 19:48   #8 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

Well, that's it. It' s not a hard job, but it can seem intimidating for some. Just take your time and lots of pictures, but really everything falls into place except the steering shaft. On that, you may need to wiggle the steering wheel a bit which is why i suggest leaving the key in the ignition and the steering wheel unlocked. you don't want to end up like me and struggling to get it back in there.

i have this saved in a PDF if anyone wants it, just let me know and I'll send it to you.
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Old 04-02-2013, 20:42   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

Very Well Done TDIDog!!!!

Thank You very much for putting this together and posting.
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Old 04-02-2013, 21:09   #10 (permalink)
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Re: 2004 Freestar heater core R&R How To

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwko View Post
Very Well Done TDIDog!!!!

Thank You very much for putting this together and posting.
x2^
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