'86 150 302 stan. cab 4x4. I have been observing the symptoms of a heater core going bad for a while now, and it is definitely time to replace it with winter coming up. I read the thread about heater core brands, and I must say, I am a little scared now! I certainly do not want to replace the core every year from here on out. I suppose regular maintenance can prevent that, but I would still like to use the best quality part of the poor selection of available parts. Has anyone established which part is the BEST choice?
I got a lot of mixed signals. Some say NAPA is the best option, I also read that there are really only a couple manufactures remaining, and the quality of a new core is poor no matter where you get it or what brand name it is called. So, what is the conclusion here? I won't bypass it, I need my heat!
I seriously doubt there are more than 2 manufacturers of replacement cores anymore for older vehicles. I've replaced one core in the 29+yrs I've had my truck. AZ was the store I bought from. I'm not a big fan of AZ, but.... Most-important is cooling system maintenance. Replacing any lost coolant with distilled water and a good brand of coolant changed at recommended intervals will go a long way in keeping a heater-core and a radiator-core reliable. As in buying any part, call local stores and check RockAuto.
I replaced my heater core once, probably 15 years ago. I got it from here Marietta Radiator Distributors | 501 Glover St. Marietta, Georgia 30060 | 770-428-5900
I have had no problems since. I also had to replace my radiator once, probably 5-10 years ago. I purchased it from the same place. Both the radiator and the heater core were Modine. I paid a little more there, but they both appeared to be of a better quality than anything else that I looked at locally. I would suggest going to a place that sells good quality parts to the professionals, maybe a specialty house, and ask them as many questions as you can get away with. The place that I got mine works only on radiators and air conditioners, and they also sell the parts that they use. They have been in business and highly recommended for many years, because they are very good at what they do.
I've always considered Napa to make the best parts of any common local auto part dealer. that said, i'd probably just opt for the cheapest one that i could find with the best warranty available. if this thing breaks or doesn't work it's not the end of the world.
i see advance offers them with a limited lifetime replacement for around $25.
Thanks guys. I'll probably go with a NAPA one. I have never done a heater core on one of these yet, but I looked into it briefly and it sounds pretty quick and easy. What a relief, I was dreading the possibility of having to pull the whole dash and all that. These were the last of the Ford vehicles that were mechanic friendly. After the mid 1990's, Fords usually suck to work on!
I repaired mine... hooked it up to the air compressor and put it in a bucket of water, found it
was leaking at the solder joint where one of the tubes was attached to the tank. Cleaned
everything up and re-soldered both tubes, am now hoping for the best as it seems to be
If it wasn't repairable, I'd have gotten a Ford OEM variant from Parts Guy Ed or Green
Connected a short piece of heater hose to one tube with a hose clamp. For the open end of
hose, used another hose clamp to clamp around a large bolt or wooden dowel or whatever I
could find that would seal the end.
Attached another short piece of hose to the other brass tube using another hose clamp.
To pressurize, I stuck the end of nozzle similar to this:
into the open end of the hose, sealed with duct tape. Pressure doesn't need to be real high
(I wouldn't go above 50 or so PSI) and it doesn't really matter if it leaks, any leaks in the
core will still show up when it's submerged in water.
Interesting idea. I have done a similar method with the air nozzle to blow out clogged cores on cars. I think I'll be better off just replacing it with a new unit. It may not be worth the time to me to find the leak and then repair it. But, I will consider this. It depends on how the thing looks when I get to it. If it looks far beyond repair, I'll have a replacement ready to go.
ive replaced the one on my 81 f150 an it was easy. mine was, if i remember right four screws on the fire wall an two nut behind the glove box. take the heater box apart and there it is. an a thought on the heater core, id just replace it, they are really cheap. good luck
What a coincidence, I'm in the middle of replacing the heater core on my '86. Mine has the heater core in the engine compartment. The engine compartment bolts are easy to get to, although one I did by feel only. The ones in the passenger compartment are a little harder--two are easy and one was really hard to find. It is above and almost behind the plastic ductwork. I had to use a deep socket with a universal adapter and then an extension on that to get it. Another problem I had was one of the bolts in the engine compartment had a nut that was turning with it. I don't know what Ford was thinking there.
I had O'Reilly order me a core. The one they had listed for my truck had longer bent outlets than mine. Mine has the shorter tubes and they called it a high output heater. O'Reilley had it for $22 with a lifetime warranty. I checked with another parts store and they wanted $40 for the same one. Looking at the computer screens of the two stores it looked like they were the same supplier. Aluminum was my only choice. Good luck with yours.
It turns out getting a replacement wasn't as easy as I thought. O'Reillys got me the wrong core. They then looked it up in a catalog, and there was a picture of my heater core. They ordered that, and the next day they still got the wrong one. Four trips to town wasted. I went to Auto Zone across the street and they had what I needed in stock. Turns out it wasn't a high output heater. Also, the guy at AZ listened to me. I asked him to check for the non-AC version, and that was what I needed. O'Reillys ignored me when I told them that. I've heard bad things about AZ, but they also have a lifetime warranty on the core.
My 1986 is apparently unique in several ways. According to my Hayne's book, the type of heater core I have is for non-AC because it's in the engine compartment. But I have AC.
I hope to put everything back together tomorrow. As far as difficulty, finding the hard to reach nut in the passenger compartment wasn't too bad. It was the messed up one in the engine compartment that kept spinning that made this project a pain.