Originally Posted by dandydon
I have a 2003 F150 with 4.2 v6 and at my last inspection they said I needed the core support repaired or it won't pass next time. I priced out part at Ford dealer--->$745 or so. Is the one from lmc as good as the original? Any one with that info I would appreciate your knowledge and input.
I am on the home stretch of replacing my 2001 F150 4.2L radiator core support, very similar problem to yours. I have a lot of specific info.
The bottom part of my core support rusted completely away where it connects to the 2 sides of the core support. The radiator & AC condensor were simply hanging in space. This was almost completely invisible
until plastic valences & many other parts that were obstructing the view had been removed.
I have a little rust on my frame & at the very bottom of the body sheet metal, but the core support had the worst rust of all.
Originally I was hearing noises & thought something needed doing in the front suspension. My front end man spotted the problem right away, although there wasn't much he could show me. A few months earlier I had taken my F150 to the dealer to have the gas tank straps replaced under the OEM recall. The mechanic said there was some automatic transmission fluid was staining the lines where they connected to the radiator. Certainly the core support was rusted badly at that time, but the dealer's man did not see it.
I suspect the lines were leaking because they were bouncing up & down all the time.
I didn't quite believe him until I started removing valances, and suddenly the extent of the problem was obvious. I needed a new radiator core support - or perhaps simply welding a new lower horizontal bar could have been done. I'm not a welder.
Someone has posted his repair job showing a patched / welded lower bar. This might save a lot of work and expense if you have the requisite welding skills. The only bad part of my core support was that bottom bar plus the mounting points where the body bushings and frame bolts attach the support to the frame. Everything above that was fine.
A local body shop gave me an off-the-cuff estimate of $1700 for parts & labor, most of that was for labor. LMC's basic core support sheet metal part was $99, certified parts (I forget the source now) were in the neighborhood of $300-400. Shipping of any of these was about $125.
My F150 has 106,000 miles on it, but I didn't think it worth putting $1700 in view of its age and resale value.
I did a lot of internet research & thought I could replace the core support myself. If the job proved impossible, I was going to scrap my 2001 F150.
I found a warehouse 130 miles away where I could pick up a support & save the shipping.
I drove my F150 into my back yard during a snow storm in mid December 2012 & that's where it's been ever since.
This past winter was horrible.
There were very few days fit for doing outdoor mechanic work. Had I tried this project in the winter 2011-2, I would have had it completed by the end of January, but not this year.
Removed the valances, turn signals, head lights, grilles, support brackets, front bumper to expose the core support. I took hundreds of digital photos of my work so I could replace the parts I was removing.
I made a couple of trips the pullapart to check out similar models of my F150 & scavenge bolts and U-clips. A couple of rubber bushings that attach the lower plastic pins of the radiator to points on the lower beam of the core support had fallen out, and I got replacements from a junker. Every one of the junked F150's of this generation had severely rotted lower core supports, most were worse than mine.
Then & only then was I able to see the entire front aspect of the core support (so I could verify the model of replacement part I would be getting).
I had to make an emergency trip from OH to NM to help my sister move in early February, something I hadn't counted on. I fashioned a crude lumber roof rack for her Kia Rondo, which was loaded nearly to its GVWR with her stuff and ourselfs.
Since we would be driving across the country any way & since the weather was absolutely perfect for a road trip, I took us across the Texas Panhandle to Enid OK, then north on I-35 to the Kansas Turnpike, heading right toward Lenexa, home of LMC.
I called LMC a couple of days before, to order a core support for my truck, and stopped at their Will Call desk to it up one nice winter afternoon for $108, local tax included, no shipping. By then I knew exactly what the part was supposed to look like, so I knew it would work. I lashed it onto sis's roof rack & we boogied on to OH a couple of days later.
The part weighs perhaps 30 lb, but it's very bulky. It had a minimal coating of black enamel, which I intended to add to once I got it home.
Back home the OEM support was spot welded at the top & at the points where it overlapped the inner fender metal. The outer fenders were bolted near their front to the core support, one place each, & had to be removed so I could undo the spot welds.
I removed the front tires, fenders & their liners, The front of the truck has been on jack stands since January.
I then drilled out the spot welds with the $5 Harbor Freight 3/8" rotary spot welder cutter. I needed a Steck brand right angle "Seam Buster" to completely separate the sheet metal at a couple of points where the spot weld cutter didn't completely remove the welds. Otherwise I would have really damaged the inner fender metal, which I was trying to conserve as much as possible.
I made LIBERAL use of the metal cutting blade on my angle grinders. Basically I butchered my OEM radiator core support to make it easy to remove.
The metal bolts I removed from the OEM support were mostly 6M-1.00 and 8M-1.25 metric bolts, with corresponding U-clips. There was a large number of plastic Christmas tree clips holding the valences on.
The two lower attachment points were still intact, where the core support is bolted to the frame through huge rubber bushings with a bolt about 7/16" diameter and about 8 inches long coming up from 2 special brackets welded to the frame rails on either sides. Many other internet accounts mentioned that the bolts & bushings had to be destroyed to remove them. Actually my lower bolts looked better than anything I had seen on the internet or in junk yards.
Fortunately PB Blaster took care of the corrosion of the two bolts, and a 25" breaker bar with a 18mm socket on it loosened the nuts on both sides. Thus I was able to re-use the lower bushings, bolts and nuts.
However this meant my installation of the new core support would be quite different from the way the manufacturer did it.
I think the original support was slid in straight with the bottom of the core scraping along the frame rails, then the support was raised up into the mating points on the inner fender metal. Then the top "wings" of the core support were spot welded to the inner fender metal.
At the bottom the bushings were inserted from underneath the core support, and the bolts inserted from beneath the frame.
This is my best guess as to how the thing was assembled originally.
I did not want to destroy perfectly usable bolts and bushings, so instead I modified the top of the inner fender metal so that the new core support could be hammered into position.
I matched my OEM support to the LMC one. There were a couple of places where holes and cutouts needed to be put, to match my OEM's points of connection to all the stuff I had removed. I traced the outlines of the missing holes off the old support, taped the paper tracings to the LMC support, and drilled & cut the additional holes. Smoothed the sharp edges with a small Dremel grinding wheel.
The new core support I washed & rinsed (once the weather warmed up), sanded with 3M pads to roughen the original paint. I used a couple of cans of Rustoleum's basic spray undercoating from Wally World on that lower support beam that is so prone to rusting. I could see a couple of points where water tended to pool even when the support was in its normal upright position. I drilled some additional 3/16" holes to promote drainage. I wish I could have sprayed undercoating inside the lower beam, but this wasn't accessible in the time I had.
The new support was outdoors this whole time & various dings & cuts I put in it were starting to rust. I cleaned the newly rusted areas with Rustoleum Rusty Metal primer, then applied several coats of Rustoleum Gloss Black primer.
More on next installment.