The heater core is an essential part of the climate control system of the Ford F-150 to supply heat inside the cabin.
However, if it malfunctions, leaks or chokes, it becomes inconvenient to drive. Therefore you need to replace it for the proper working of the climate control system of the truck.
How Do You Replace a Heater Core in a Ford F150? Replacing the heater core in Ford F-150 involves removing the complete dashboard, wiring connectors, and glove compartment to access the HVAC assembly. Moreover, you need to remove the blend door actuator and vacuum panel to install the new heater core.
After installation, flush the heater lines and refill the coolant to verify its performance.
How Do You Replace a Heater Core in a Ford F150?
I have successfully replaced the heater core in my Ford F-150, and it took me about 6 hours to complete the job.
- 10mm-30mm socket set with ratchet
- Long handle flat and Phillips head screwdriver
- A large pan to drain the coolant
- Heater core
- Coolant with an antifreeze agent
There can be a slight modification in the procedure according to the model year of your truck.
Remove the Negative Terminal of Battery
Disconnect the battery’s negative terminal and tuck it away to some secure place. Moreover, you can insulate it as an additional measure to accidentally shorting battery terminals.
Replacement of the core involves the removal of the complete dashboard assembly.
Therefore, I would approve it for all mechanics and truck owners to undergo this step before disassembling other parts.
Remove the Ford F150 seats
Remove the front passenger and driver seats and center console to make space for work and pull the dashboard and its components.
Next, use the appropriately sized socket with a ratchet to remove the holding bolts.
Next, remove the connector for seat adjustment and move them outside the cabin until you complete the work. Finally, clean the interior of the truck and go to the next step for dashboard removal.
Remove the Side kick panels
Unscrew the gloves box by removing the 2 holding screws in the bottom of the cover. It will ease the removal of the dashboard process.
Next, remove the side kick panel on the passenger side. Before that, you need to remove the runner strip on the bottom of the cabin holding the side panels.
Pull them both in a sequence to remove them. It will give access to several wires and connectors entering the dashboard for various functions. Next, repeat the same procedure for the driver’s side.
Disconnect all connected wires
Removing the gloves box and passenger side kick panel will give you access to several wires entering various areas of the truck.
Next, disconnect the connectors and antenna wire and tie them aside to prevent blocking your access while working on the dashboard.
You should also disconnect the ground wire connected to the truck’s body by unscrewing the holding screw.
Finally, remove the steering column linkage screw to prevent falling of the steering wheel down while pulling the dashboard.
Remove the Dashboard
After disconnecting all wires, the dashboard is electrically free of all connectors and steering wheel linkage.
Pull out the side covers to access the bolts that connect the dashboard with the pickup truck body.
You will find all the holding bolts of the dashboard hidden by the plastic covers secured in their places by a couple of locking clips.
Pull those covers to access the bolts. You will find almost 10-12 bolts to remove the dashboard.
Locate the Ford F150 Heater core
After removing or swinging away from the dashboard, you can locate the heater core and HVAC assembly. Move away its top cover by detaching a couple of screws holding it.
Removing the HVAC plenum will give you access in the form of a rectangular assembly with an inlet and outlet hose and a wire mesh to provide enhanced surface area for heat transfer.
Drain coolant from HVAC Assembly
After removing the dashboard, you need to disconnect the coolant pipes and hoses to pull away from the heater core.
Before disconnecting, drain the coolant in a pan by opening the drain plug underneath the radiator.
Opening the coolant reservoir cap will speed up the draining process. By doing so, you will prevent the mess it creates when you remove the pipes.
Next, drain the coolant from the vacuum lines by removing the pipe at the inlet and blowing the air through it using a compressor. Pressured air will push the coolant to eject from the other side.
Remove the heater core
To disconnect the heater core, you need to go to the engine compartment and locate the 2 heater core hose pipes along with 2 coolant lines.
You will find them on the firewall towards the passenger side. They have quick disconnects to easily remove them by pushing the hose in, pressing the locking tabs, and pulling them outwards.
Next, go inside the Ford F-150 cabin and detach the blend door actuator, electrical connector, vacuum line connector, and panel.
Then, pull it out through the glove box by slightly lifting it. Perform this step carefully to prevent damage to any wires or connectors nearby.
Install the new heater core
Install the new heater core in the HVAC assembly by carefully inserting it through the glove box.
Keep the hose side of the core up and insert them carefully through the firewall towards the engine compartment.
Next, reconnect the pipes by using locking tabs to secure them in their place. It will ensure efficient coolant flow without any leakage.
Next, fit the newly installed core with foam around its boundary to reduce the pinching effect due to any impact on its heat transfer surface.
Lastly, reinstall the HVAC cap or plenum to cover all its parts. Next, reinstall the blend door actuator, vacuum lines, and their panel pod.
Reconnect all the connectors and wiring harnesses to their relevant slots. It is a good practice to tag them at the time of removal for easy installation.
After installing the dashboard, fix the handhold support, steering column, dashboard bolt covers, glove box, sidekick panels, and seats.
Fix the dashboard in its place and reinstall all its holding bolts. I keep a paper or diary nearby to note down the number of bolts or screws removed for each part. It helps me during reinstallation to prevent missing any of them.
Flush the lines
Whenever you complete the installation process of all the removed parts, the next step is to make the new heater core functional in Ford F-150.
First of all, flush all the lines with distilled water to clear them. It will clear all the radiator and heater lines of any corrosion or mineral deposits and chokes. Next, refill and drain the system 2-3 times until you get clean water out of the lines.
After cleaning the lines, refill the recommended coolant with an antifreeze agent mixed. Keep on pouring the coolant until you will observe the max level marking on the coolant reservoir.
Turn on the engine and check the heater’s functions. It will ensure the operation of the newly installed core.
How much time does it take to replace it?
It is a tedious and time-consuming job as it requires removing various parts, specifically the dashboard, to access it.
Moreover, the fragile nature of all the covers and the dashboard requires handling with care. It is crucial to prevent any loss due to damage during their removal.
It requires about 6-7 hours to complete the job if you do it by yourself. Hiring an expert mechanic or workshop will take 3-4 hours as they know the exact location of all the parts, bolts, and screws.
Cost of replacement
The heater core for F-150 itself is not expensive to buy as it costs between $100 t $250 for good quality products from renowned brands like Motorcraft owned by Ford.
However, it requires $500 to $800 in labor costs due to removing various parts. Therefore, replacing the Ford F150 heater core can range from $600 to $950.
However, it is a tedious job involving removal and reinstallation of almost complete interior of the cabin, including dashboard, seats, center console, and steering column.