'98 Ford Heat not working --shop told me to get a new car?

My heat stopped working yesterday. I brought the car into the shop and the man told me it needs a new radiator because of the “gunk” in the radiator (which I had flushed in the summer) and a new heater core. He then told me to just get a new car. ??? It runs perfectly well—what’s going on here? Should I get a new radiator or a new car?

take it to a radiator shop. if indeed it needs a radiator that should be about 250.00

if it needs a new heater core then that will be about 600 or so.

but there are several other issues which can make the heat mess up. take it to a specialist. the radiator shops, or an AC shop (they do radiators too) are the experts on this. since your mechanic waved his hands in futility go elsewhere.

where did you have it flushed? (and why) usually radiator flushes are useless, or even make more problems than they solve.

What kind of car is it? How about some back-story and general information about the vehicle?

In the summer a “frost plug” came out and I had to have it replaced and at the time the mechanic told me he flushed the radiator. He said if the radiator is “gunky” it’s all throughout the engine, the heater core is also “gunky” and it would have to be flushed over and over again. He then told me not to drive it far and to get a new car! I was shocked!

I forgot that part (apologies) it’s a “Windstar” minivan with 91,000 miles on it. The heat stopped working on Wednesday, but if it’s running long enough I hear a dull pop noise and then the heat blows out—especially if I’m climbing a hill. Today though the temperature basically stayed on cold.

I should add it was today that the mechanic told me about the “gunk” and to buy a new car.
The mechanic who replaced the frost plug was a different mechanic.

I will bring it to a radiator shop in the morning. He certainly did wave his hands in futility! He took off the cap and showed it to me…it looked like a cap then showed me the green antifreeze (it was green) then told me to get a new car. I’m glad he’s not a physician.
I will update tomorrow on what the radiator shop says.

It sounds like the shop was clueless and was not wanting to mess with it. It sounds like a blend door is sticking for some reason or the blend door actuator is acting up. This should not be terribly major.

Here is what the actuator looks like.


“but if it’s running long enough I hear a dull pop noise and then the heat blows out—especially if I’m climbing a hill.”

That’s a BIG clue that you don’t need a heater core, but do need whatever actuates the flapper door that tells the system to add or subtract unheated air. Sounds like yours is vacuum operated. Some Fords are electrical.

The antifreeze appeared to be Green? That’s what it’s supposed to look like. I don’t think you need a radiator either, but you do need a new mechanic. Look for one here on this same website at http://www.cartalk.com/content/mechx/

“Should I get a new radiator or a new car?”

You should read the thread titled “Profound Ignorance”…

I’ll share a little bit about me with you: I’m 34. I was 25 when I became a veterinarian. I specialized to become an anatomic pathologist (I can perform a complete necropsy a dead horse/cow/llama–name your large farm animal and have it in 6 tidy pieces ready for the incinerator in 30-45 minutes using only a knife and a hacksaw–the pluck/GI track in a burn barrel or two of course) and I’m now getting my Phd in cancer biology—just this week I found out I became the PI on a grant that will fund my work for several years and pay my entire salary—prior to completing my PhD next April. Working on and understanding the inner workings of my car is not a priority or interest of mine.
I’m also smart enough to ask for advice when I know I haven’t got a clue which is the point of this message board and I don’t appreciate being castigated for it. Luckily there are other individuals who read this forum that are kindly willing to share their expertise. I can also afford to pay someone else to do the work or buy a new car because I get paid well for my expertise so please keep your petty judgement regarding my “profound ignorance” to yourself, Catty-man.

Ignorance does not mean stupidity.

I am irritated because this is a forum to ask for advice about car problems not to be told one is ignorant about car repair! I am ignorant about a lot of things—of that I am aware. This is why I asked the question about my car and it is the point of this entire forum!

The repair shop I went to is my usual repair shop and they have never given me advice I could not trust prior. This ‘get a new car’ advice just seemed a little extreme to me, so I came here to get a more knowledgeable opinion than my own. I also know I’m not stupid which was the entire point of my response to the person above. Your two cents is obvious and unnecessary. I suggest you and the other contributor start your own forum for mechanics if you are unsatisfied here and leave people who post honest questions alone.

UNFORTUNATELY sometimes the responders to this web site get lost in the myriad responses and questions. sometimes answers DO get slightly sarcastic. But you should see some of the inane questions sometimes in broken english in long run on sentences and with breaks cattyicconvertars wires electic things which are really hard to decipher and then to have to respond to them and then get castigated over the response which you cant really give since incomplete info was given in the first place. (see how hard it gets sometimes!)


what seems plain as day to me, or others is NOT as clear cut to many posters. thus the snappy retorts.

BUT, i am sure you see the same in your line of work, but then again, since you see people face to face, it probably limits the reaction (both sarcastic and unprofessional)

this is one of the drawbacks to the “net” response forum. it is kind of impersonal, anddoes depend on a two way interaction to get all the info out, and responded to.

Please take your car to another shop. And to the threadmaster,lets end this thread.

Agree! You need a qualified second opinion from a knowlegeable shop that specializes in radiators and heating systems. From the description, the problem could be in the control that lets either cold or hot air into the car. Also, as stated, anti-frezze is normally a clear green, or a clear pindkish-brown (long life). If it is “cruddy”, it needs changing. The radiator may not be at fault here.

Maintenance is a lot like health care; diagnosing the correct cause takes knowledge and an open mind.