Broken Heater Core in 2000 Lincoln

I have a 2000 Lincoln Town Car that has given me fits since I bought it a year ago, but it’s still a car that can get me to Point A to Point B. About a month ago the heater core supposedly broke and sweet smelling, white smoke came out of the vents and fogged up the windshield. I think this is a common problem for them, but not an easily fixed one. I’m willing to do the repair myself and I already have the replacement part, but I’m having trouble trying to take out the dash. Another problem that happened when my neighbor, who is a pretty darn good mechanic, tried to get at the core by dropping the steering column, causing the needle for PRND12 to be off (i.e to put it in Drive, you move the needle to Reverse). Tips on how to fix one or both of these problems would be awesome, thank you!

I was also reading another post about how someone’s 2001 had a wet passenger side carpet. This car also has that, and the rear was actually flooded about a year and a half ago. The dealer thought it was a leak, but they couldn’t pinpoint the exact spot. We also tried to tape up the doors, but the carpet would still become wet without a known source. This isn’t the main concern, but if it helps diagnose the problem, I figured I would add it. Again, thanks for any help!

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For the cars I’ve had the wet passenger side carpet was the symptom of a leaking heater core as well.

It seems like I remember past Car Talk shows with people having unfound leaks. I seem to remember that one cause to check is a plugged drain from the AC. Thankfully, the fix was easy - just a little compressed air or wire run up the drain to remove the obstruction. I seem to remember that there are also drains in the doors that can get plugged as well.

NEw heater core is needed.

You can find the repair manuals at any library though some cannot be taken out of the library, but pages can be copied, to help you get the dash out.


Either heater core failure or a coolant hose connection to the heater core has failed. Removing the heater core is not a fun project for most cars, and I expect for yours it is really not much fun at all. Very big job. 8.8 hours labor is what they say.

Heater core problems indeed seem to come with this vehicle. Before installing a new one, electrolysis problems should be checked for, and there may be a need to restrict the flow rate through the heater core from what I can see. Refer to tsb 6-21-19 for the details.

My mom had the dealer check the drains, but I’m not sure if they got to them all. I’ll check them again once I get a service manual, or if I read online for their locations.

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As an update, I’ve got part of the drivers side dash taken off (I found in a manual that it’s called the finish panel) and the glovebox taken out. I had another neighbor (not the same one) come over and give me an approximate location for the heater core, but I can’t seem to find it just by looking. Is there any place specific I should be looking for? I have the replacement part so I know what it looks like, I’m just confused on where it’s at.

Thank you guys so much for all the help thus far!

I’d guess it’s directly on the other side of the firewall from where the heater hoses attach.

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Here’s what the inside looks like as of right now, I’ve got some instructions on how to take the instrument panel off, but I’m going to wait for my neighbor as it isn’t a one-person job. I read in some instructions that I have to take out the seats, but I would rather not if I don’t have to.

This link is for a 1999, but I figured they didn’t change much on the actual function of the car in one year.
I also typed out what the instructions said with the figures.
Text for 2000 Lincoln Town Car Instrument Panel and Heater Core & Plenum Chamber removal/installation

I’ve already taken the Finish Panel, Defrost Opening Grille, Steering Column Cover, and the Glove Box off, if you’re following Fig. 1 in the instructions (not in the order that was specified).
Would anyone be able to explain the directions any further or provide pictures or diagrams of where everything I need to know is? Thank you!

Removing the instrument panel is a 41 step job. The basic idea from what I can tell: steering column, pass side air bag module, inst panel brace bolts via glove box, support brace via glove box, ww reservoir, move speed control servo out of way, LH bulkhead connector, unclip same from dash, blower elec connector, disconnect a/c pressure cut off switch elec connector, in-line wiring harness connector, eatc connector, right hand front wheel and tire, front fender splash shields, wiring harness from evap case, unclip wiring harness from dash panel, remove RH inst panel lower insulator, feed wiring harness through dash panel, both A-pillar trim panels, both windshield side moldings, disconnect ecs sensor, disconnect antenna wire, RH ground bolts, disconnect eatc hose, disconnect RH bulk connector, door weather-strip seals, tunnel brace trim, disc climate control connector, inst panel tunnel brace, LH ground bolts, LH wiring harness connectors, disc parking brake switch, defroster grill, inst panel top cowl screws, RH panel cowl nut, LH cowl nut, LH cowl bolt, remove inst panel

If I was doing that job myself as a diy’er I’d remove both front seats after removing the steering column. Would make the rest of the work a little less unpleasant.

Common sense says to pressure test the heater core before taking on this job btw. To confirm the heater core actually is the source of the leak.

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How could I go about doing this in the most cost-effective way? I’ve gotten to the point where I can see the heater core pipes and where my (first mentioned) neighbor routed the hoses together for the meantime.

This is a really big job.

Not just the glove box and instrument cluster must be removed, but the steering column and the entire dash itself.
Only then will you gain access to the heater core and duct work.

It’s not like the old days, of removing a panel under the dash and unbolting the core.



I’ve been told, lol. I’ve got the whole summer and a spare car to drive while working on this one, might as well learn something new and be productive whilst learning it (Once school starts back up I’m also considering selling this for money for classes / a classic that I sell the other Lincoln for money for classes). I found a YouTube video of someone assembling it back from replacing the heater core, but this forum has also been a big help, and maybe someone else will see this and be able to work on theirs as well.

2000 Lincoln, a classic. Well i guess just about anything can be a classic to someone.

Well, it IS eighteen years old. Some of us mature types have to remind ourselves that a car like, say, my 2004 is not “relatively new”.

Besides, by the time he finishes, it might well be a classic.

Good luck, OP, and happy learning!

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You found a video where they reassembled it? Play it in reverse.

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Does anyone have any tips for removing these plastic pieces that hide the bolts for the seats? I tried prying it with a flathead but I couldn’t budge it. The plastic is closest to the door in the back of the seat.
Also, it appears that while I thought it was just a bad leak, the track that moves the seat forward and back has rusted or fused together. I managed to push the drivers side up to get access to the bolt, but the passenger’s side is still stuck back. I had some electronics cleaner ( ) that somewhat loosened the driver’s side but it hasn’t worked on the passenger’s side.

Use a penetrant instead

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If you plan to sell this car after repairing it you would be better off selling it now as is with the heater core bypassed.

I remove instrument panels twice a week, I would not recommend this for the beginner. Considering that you are having trouble removing the seat adjuster trim caps this repair is going to take a very long time.


You need a gadget similar to this. Figure out a way to block off one side, and use the hand-pump to pressurize the other side. If it holds air pressure, you know it isn’t any leaking. On all of my cars I’ve had, it is easy to access both the inlet and outlet of the heater core from the engine compartment, b/c you can see both hoses where they go through the fire-wall. Such a pressure could by done with just a bicycle pump and pressure gauge, and some invention. Auto parts stores sometimes rent radiator pressure testers for a small fee. If so, that’s probably the most economical way to go about it.

This is what I’d use for that. Never tried it on the seat connectors, but works nicely removing those plastic fasteners that hold door panels on. Much easier that trying to pry them off with a screwdriver.