99 Taurus with little heat

There is a bit of warmth coming from the vents until I turn on the fan - then within a few minutes the air cools - no heat.

I called the two garages at which I have had the most work done. The first immediately stated that I need a new heater core ($500-$600) and wouldn’t consider another possibility such as thermostat, HVAC blend door or whatever.

The second garage immediately stated that it would need to start with a $68.50 diagnostic, and wouldn’t give me any other information.

Trading right now isn’t an option. Any suggestions as to how to sound knowledgeble when my car and I visit the garage? And should I try another garage?

The 2nd garage gave you the right answer. They are smart enough to NOT give you a possible wrong answer.

Flush the heater core. It’s probably plugged with sediment from the cooling system. I’ve got a '97 and have been battling this problem for YEARS. Just flushed mine a couple of weeks ago, as a matter of fact, in anticipation of colder weather, but it’ll need to be flushed AT LEAST one more time to get through the winter.

I second Colt Hero. I too had a 97 Taurus that had the cooling system from hell.

System probably needs a complete sediment flush. There is a old service bulletin in which the factory aloud like a half of a day for this extensive procedure.