Heater Core R/R in '96 Taurus- tips please

My heater core decided to go out in a blaze of glory. I bought a book and it showed it to be fairly simple. Recent events may have aggravated already problematic core.

I (long story short) hit a bump hard enough that my right front frame hit pavement, hard, and this crushed my lower radiator hose/expansion tank hose and ruptured in process. Well, needless to say, all my coolant came out. I did not drive it one second longer. My wife came and towed me back.

I replaced lower radiator hose (NOT EASY!!) and filled everything up. ran fine. took it for a 20 minute drive on highway, and vents started misting. Coolant is spewing out of firewall.

My next question is, do I need to disconnect ANY A/C lines to do heater core? My book warned me of high pressure lines. Maybe it’s a “waiver” and a courtesy warning.

If ya’ll have anymore tips, please send them my way. Also, the lines going to and from heater core look special/factory. Parts stores don’t show any special lines on their computers. These lines look kinda like a/c lines, but i know they’re going to and from heater core. Do i need to order these lines, or can i replace all with heater hose?

Thank you in advance for any support, tips, and help. It’s greatly appreciated.

God Bless.


If the 96 is anything like the earlier models ou may want to rethink this job and have someone else do it. Changing a heater core on a Taurus is a royal pain in the neck. It involves discharging the A/C system and removal of the entire dash assembly.

Disgusting that it has to be this way, unfortunately.

Watch this video for heater core removal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsZoFoiJsdw

To remove the heater hoses, you’ll need a tool like this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKgQJ-RinXc


ok4450 is correct, as usual.

When the heater core on my '86 Taurus needed to be replaced after only 4 years, I opted to allow the dealership to do it, as the indy mechanics in my town were not eager to “learn” on my car and I did not have the time or the inclination to do it myself.

As ok stated, if the '96 is like the earlier models, the entire dashboard needs to be removed. This is a very intensive repair job. Plan on alternate means of transportation for several days if you really want to do this yourself.

You can bypass the heater core if you want, and do it temporarily so you can use the car. You need only to disconnect the heater core’s input hose and output hose, and add a connecting hose and connecting hardware to each end, connecting the input hose to the output hose.
The hoses run to the firewall on the passenger side, pretty high up on the firewall. The hardware you would need is a pair of connecting hard plastic or metal tubes with V-shaped ridges on each end, which you can get any good auto parts store. These you plug into the existing hoses and a short length (about 10" long should be enough)of tube from the parts store, and four hose clamps, two per connection. The connecting hose can be looped in a circle providing there are no kinks. Be sure there are no kinks in any hose.It may be necessary to cut the L-shaped bend at the heater core connecting ends of each of the existing hoses in order to get the connecting tube all the way in, but I think you can make the connection without cutting the existing hoses. If you are replacing the core down the road, you would want to avoid cutting off the bend in the existing hose if you can. Otherwise you will need to replace the existing hoses when you change the core, with identical hosing from the manufacturer. I know the way your core is set up; the bends at the end of each of the hoses is necessary to prevent kinking. Tighten the clamps well but don’t go crazy, the ridges will keep the connection from leaking.
This is a fast, easy repair. If you never get snow and ice where you are, you can even leave it that way, and not replace the core at all. Providing you don’t mind being cold or never have to go anywhere there might be ice and snow.
The hoses are not special at all. Most auto parts stores have rolls of several sizes of this rubber tubing, and it is the same hose. Cut a slim piece off of the end of one of the disconnected hoses and bring it to the auto parts store, and match it up. You’ll find that the hoses are the same thickness and type, etc.
Coolant is obviously under pressure in the cooling system, but the fluid is not under anywhere near the pressure you would find in a system like your power steering or air conditioning systems.
If you do replace the core (what a project, good luck), make sure you follow the cautions in the book regarding the air bags. I don’t think you need to touch the A/C connections or hosing at all, once you get to the heater core it should be a simple enough part change.It’s getting there and back that takes time.

By the way, if the heater core is ONLY leaking at one of these hoses, and not the heater core, then we all misunderstood you, and you only need to replace the hose. I would go with replacing the original hose, if only because of that L-shaped bend where the hose meets the core, and the tight conditions. Heater hose would would work fine it not for the tiny space available, to small to effect a bend in stock heater hose.
Hope any of this helps.

There was a time when step one was remove windshield. Step two was remove dashboard…Good Luck…

It is not a job for the fainthearted or backs over 40.

That’s a great shortcut in the video you posted. Definitely worth watching.

O.M.G.!! W.T.H.?! I grew up with a '65 Chevelle and an '81 Silverado and did all my own repairs, and now, years later after having new cars…i have to work on one. Let me tell ya, i’m a little peeved! Why does all this have to be so difficult?!

I bought the book, and it has HELPED as well as you guys! What i didn’t realize is that me going to heater core was step #31. Then heater core hit dash, and that’s when that whole chapter hit me. I hung my head and cried (not literally) as i read all the steps. Discharge the A/C?! c’mon!! Please tell me that Ford isn’t the only automaker that makes things difficult!

Thank you all so much! With all your directions, i just about don’t need the book. It’s as if you know me when you talked about the ennormity of this job. I guess I’m calling my usual mechanic.

Thanks again. That was a great YouTube video by the way!
Sincerely angry,

Its definitely not a thing specific to Ford (though this heater core may have its own special difficulties). This is the way cars are built - lots and lots of stuff crammed in there and designed primarily to be assembled in sequential steps on a heavily automated assy line - little if any design though given to R&R in one’s garage. I have a GM van where I am supposed to pull half of my exhaust manifold (in addition to about a dozen other somewhat more minor things) just to replace the thermostat.

Not sure a shop will fix it for less than the car is worth. But whatever you do, don’t overheat this car, since the head gaskets will blow out if you do. If you think the heater core is a project, try getting the oilpan off so you can at the rear head gasket.
Good luck. If the price is too, consider bypassing the heater cors altogether, again, if it is warm most of the year where you are. Good luck!

The lines are available at parts stores. The issue is just where is your leak. You might first try a fine after market product and see if you can get the leak to seal first. It may not be the core but the hose connection. You can reach it at the firewall. At this time in the life of the car Bandaids are more cost effective than replacements, but your choice.