Heater core R&R in a 1995+ Ranger


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thegoat4

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Heater core R&R in a 1995+

Ed. Note (MAKG): This does not apply to 1983-94 models. Those are ridiculously simple.

Reposted by request.

The worst happened the other night. Driving to HEB, turned on the heat, and POP! Antifreese mist all over the windshield. Crap. I do NOT like having parts of my truck disabled, tied off, or otherwise. Especially when they explode.

The core was $60 at my favorite Ford dealer. They couldn't locate that little foam oval that goes around the pipes at the passthru. I just flipped the old one over.

Needed tools: preferably a screwgun or small impact and an air ratchet for all of the screws. You can do without, but you will not be happy. Air blow gun or hair dryer. Garden hose (with water). Big torx bit, I believe T45, but I might be wrong. Two-jaw puller. Plastic trim clip remover prybar thingy. Pointy object, like an o-ring pick. Flat and phillips screwdrivers. Flashlight. Buddy. Perhaps a copy of the Bible or Zen and Motorcycle Maint.

The procedure is basically what's in the manual, but with some changes to avoid opening the AC system. I also removed extra stuff for more handholds and less confusion.

Unhook battery, remove air bag modules, ignition cylinder, glove box door. Lay the air bags dangerous-side-up; resist the urge to stack other parts on top of them.

Remove trim along bottom edges of doors, and trim from the floor to the leading edges of the door frames. The left side took scary prying of a plastic "nail" below the parking brake. Pry out the piece of trim across the top of the dash, near the windshield.

Pull steering wheel off, remove trim around column, top piece is a pain. Remove the park release and hood release handles, trim below the steering column, and the kneecap catcher shield behind it. Pull center console with the radio still in it, remove trim around cluster, remove cluster. Good time to change those lightbulbs if you need to.

In the engine compartment, the fuse box is held in place with two plastic tabs. Pull it loose and lay aside. You see three plugs with bolts in 'em on the firewall below. Unscrew all three. Pull the heater hoses and plug with bolts if you still have water in the system. Pull off the air intake pipe. Unplug the ECM. Unplug the sensor in the accumulator, take loose the washer hose running over the blower box. There are three studs on the firewall side and one stud back inside the cab you need to remove the nuts from. Look below the glovebox hole and you'll see it on the wall. Once the box is loose, roll it away from the firewall over the top of the engine and hold it back with a bungie cord. Mind kinked hoses.

Back inside, unplug everything you see. You don't need to, but unplugging everything is faster that figuring out what's what. There will be a ground lead on the passenger side, near the door frame. Here's the worst part of all. Those three plugs you unscrewed on the firewall, they plugged into a big honkin' plug monster on the cab side. It has six hellish little plastic clips. Good luck. I pulled back on the plug gently and pried each tab with a pick one-by-one in the dark by feel at a funny angle while more or less applying a sleeper hold to myself. While you're there, unplug the pedal switches and steering column. Remove the column, it has a pinch bolt at the u-joint. Try not to rotate the shaft after removing.

I took out the AC controls, but it seemed like I didn't need to.

There are two little screws towards the middle of the dash, against the windshield. Remove. There is a brace left of center at the bottom near the ashtray. Remove. Get a buddy. Take out the big bolts you see along the windshield and door frames. Pull the dash back a bit. There's a big plug on the left, screwed together with a 10mm head. Have a ratchet ready and unhook it. You could reach it through the cluster hole before puling the dash, but it kinda sucks.

There are random wires with those stupid plastic clips/nails holding them to the dash. You'll need to pry a couple loose. Be careful with the antenna wire one as it's more sensitive to abuse. I've got one on order. Put dash somewhere clean, not like I did. I blame the brainular blood starvation brought on by that plug monster.

Heater box has four studs going through the firewall. Three near the blower box, one near the center of the wall. Remove the heater box, take off the cover of the heater core, pull off the oval foam piece, and just cut little slits in the other foam piece, slide out the core. Now go hose out all the damned antifreeze, barsleak, bugs, M&Ms, and whatever else has accumulated in that box. Get it clean as you can and make sure to blow all the water out of the foam. Hair dryer for those without compressed air handy.

Doesn't the truck look weird without the dash in it? Yeah, I thought so. This is a good time to change your registration sticker. You can get ALL of the glue off.

Now, put everything back together. It's pretty self-explanatory at this point. The only trick is leftover screws. I had three. One was kinda big. Hmm. Don't forget that screw-together plug on the left before you hang the dash back up, and the center brace at the bottom of the dash. Each time you're about to cover up a hole, take a good long look inside for screwless holes and bachelor plugs.

Plugmonster is much nicer on reassembly. I snapped off four of the tabs for the sake of my future self.

Torque guidelines: little screws, studs, and bolts-snug. Plug screws-snug. Other ones-tight.

Top off or fill the coolant, check all of your fuses and lights, wipe off the 800 handprints on the dash, and the two footprints on the ceiling. Turn up the heat full blast and run the truck up to temp, top off the surge tank.

Commence happydance.

I made close to a dollar on recovered change!
 
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MAKG

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Nice. I stickied this.

Please consider submitting it to the tech library.
 

westonoto

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I just did my 99 using these instructions and it worked great, thank you.
I did tweak the method, however, and avoided messing with under-hood fuses, interior fuseblock, and the plug monster altogether.

With the door trim removed, there are holes in the metal lip. I duct taped the sharp edges and used these, the visor pivot (they are stronger than you think) and the passenger grab handle to use paracord to tie to the dash to hold it up. Once I removed the large anchor bolts, the dash just slid back about 5 inches. I noticed that the cabling to the plug monster had a decent amount of play in it so I just left that end of the dash where it was and pivoted the passenger's side out, with a little wiggling to clear the door frame. Didn't put any strain on the plug monster wires, but got enough clearance to remove the heater core with no problem. I'd guess that there may be truck to truck variations in how much play there is with those wires, so use your own judgement.
 

thegoat4

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Revised dash pulling procedure

I had to pull my dash again. Since this was the second go-round I was able to save a bunch of time and pain.

1. Unhook the battery. Pull the defroster vent. It's that black piece of trim just before the windshield. Simply pry it out.

2. If you have a stick shift, pull the shifter out. There are two screws hidden under the folds of the rubber boot, then a pinch/wedge bolt under it. Take the nut off one end of the bolt and screw it down on the other end and it will pop itself loose. Optional: pull the seats as well. It doesn't take long and makes everything easier. Plus, when you are done, you can really clean the floor.

3. Pull the trim panel below the steering column. Pull the shield behind it--careful, it's sharp. Pull the glove box--you can squeeze the sides together to pop the hooks out, then fold it straight down to get at the screws.

4. Pull both air bags. There are little plugs on either side of the steering wheel that cover the screws. The passenger airbag can be unbolted from below with the glove box out. Put the bags somewhere safe since one going off in the cab underneath you can throw you right through the windshield.

5. Lock your steering wheel, (pull the ignition key out) unplug everything from the column, disconnect your linkage if it's automatic, remove the tie bolt at the joint. When you remove the four nuts, the steering column can be pulled as a whole piece. Might be easier to drop the column down first, then disconnect the shift linkage. I don't know as I do not have an automatic.

6. Pull the center trim with the radio still in it. Pull the trim around the cluster. You don't really have to pull the trim or the cluster, but they occupy good grab points that you'll like when you take the dash out. If you want, you can leave them in, and you can leave the radio panel in place as well, but pull the radio out and disconnect the antenna wire.

7. On the passenger side, unplug the vacuum connector--it's the colorful one. A little to the left and closer to the firewall you can see your blend door actuator with a little white plug going to it. Unplug that. Fish the antenna wire out and let it hang straight down to the floor along the firewall. Pull the door trim from the dash to the bottom front corner of the door frame. You can actually wrestle it out and back in again without removing the overlapping pieces. Down by the floor unplug everything that's attached to the wall. Unscrew the ground terminal.

8. Remove the center dash support. It is below the dash, left of the ash tray/air bag switch.

9. Unplug the brake and clutch pedal switches. Lift out and lay over the fuse box in the engine compartment, unscrew the bolts on the three connectors below it on the firewall. Inside the cab, there's a suitcase handle on the firewall all the way to the left. It has six tabs retaining it. Pull gently and use a pick or thin screwdriver to pop the tabs loose. If you don't use a whole lot of pressure, it isn't so bad. Once you get the plug out, I'd suggest breaking off the four of those tabs in the corners so it's easier to take out next time. Now that I think about it, you could probably wedge toothpicks into all of those tabs to unhook them. I'll try that next time.

10. Now the dash is held in by two large bolts on the left, one large bolt on the right, two large bolts next to the windshield on the left, one large short bolt on the right next to the windshield, and two small long screws next to the windshield either side of center. Take them all out except the large short bolt, put a little forward pressure on the dash to keep it from falling, and take that bolt out. The weight of the dash will be sitting on the heater box. You need to pull the dash partially back and expose a plug on the left side. Don't drag it, lift a little and pull back. Unscrew the retaining bolt in the plug and you can remove the dash. It is best to have a buddy help you for this part. The dash it's all that heavy, it's just unwieldy.

Congrats, the dash is out. With air tools it takes about a half an hour, including pulling the seats.

For putting it back in, slip that short bolt through its hole, gently bump the dash against the windshield and slide it down into place, letting the windshield guide it. Once it's there, you can use an extension and socket to thread that bolt in hand tight to hold the dash up while you wiggle things around to get the rest of the bolts started.

On the steering column, it has two mounting holes that are slotted, one that's oblong, and one hole that is round. Tighten the round hole first, then the the oblong one, then the two slotted ones. If you don't do the round one first, you'll get things in a bind and you will probably find yourself with an annoying creaking noise.

If you find yourself with leftover screws, just tape them up inside the dash. Next time you're in there you'll spot where they go.:icon_thumby:
 

Raynman

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Another 99

:yahoo: Just finished (mostly) my 1999 Ranger heater core. Thanks to goat, and his writeup!! I did find a video online that goes through most everything except it was done on an Explorer/Mountaineer the dash and Heater core setup are pretty close. Thanks again to goat for the A/C info...I only removed the bolts for the box/blower under the hood and pulled away from the firewall, and bungied to the underside of the hood. No need to disconnect refrigerant line!! I also removed the Windshield washer/Radiator overflow tank assembly, to make more room. The airbox/Plenum bolts were easy to access after that. Thanks again goat for the writeup :D Here's the link to the video:You may have to scroll back and forth to see each step in sequence. Hope it's useful to ya' Raynman.
 

bintopo

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One more 99

I found a really easy method for taking care of the plugmonster! After I unbolted the three plugs from the engine compartment, I removed the plastic bezel that was surrounding the plugs and I could see the six plastic clips. I simply reached down and depressed the clips and pushed it a little and repeated for the two other pairs. Presto the nasty plugmonster was hanging loose and smiling under the dash.:yahoo:
 
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ronclark

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I just did a 2004 and I took some pics boy what a joy, I prefer my 87 its way easier.











 

helpme

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Something else...

might be best to hook up your new core outside the vehicle FIRST. Then bring it up to full temperature and see if it leaks.
Sometimes the new ones are defective.
 

stsalvage

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I have an 88. Heater core takes about 20 minutes. I did not know what i was getting myself into on the 95. I thought it was going to be a quick job. WRONG. I think I hae removed about 348 million screws all that I think I did not have to remove. I still think I broke something inside when i was yanking with frustration. Definatly have a buddy ove I did this myself and it was ridiculous.
I have a 1991 and it takes 10 to 20 mins for us.But for you new Dummies they built the truck around the heater core.I bought a 1996Boy i feel where you guys are coming from.Never could understand about that Fiber glass tube or plastic tube that almost runs the lanth of the Dash.I really thought long and hard on cutting it and putting in a sleeve with 2 metal bands and then i'm done.then you can get to the heater core from the glove compartment.So what if you lose a little bit of cold or warm air on the passenger side.Some one really should Modify that set up under the dash:idiot:
 
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