Best Answer
Start with Taurus Car Club Link Below

Replete with diagrams and illustrations!

Unless you really want to remove the entire dash...


Above is true, but I've been told by a Ford tech at the Dealer you don't have to Remove the column: just pull the 4 bolts & the Shifter Cable if Gearshift is NOT on the floor.

Drop it down & rest on the seat. Should provide enough clearance in order to get the dash out.

I'll find out for sure this weekend.

There is no short cut or fast way to do this. The dash has to come out to access the heater box and replace the core. So the steps in replacing the heater core are to disconnect the heater hoses, remove the dash, to access the heater core cover on the front of the heater case and replace the core. Reassembly is in the reverse order as disassembly. Fill the cooling system with new coolant, and burp the air form the cooling system.

There is a mechanic who found a way to do it without dash removal, in 1996-1999 Taurus / Sables.

  • Library - you can review a number of manuals they'll have for the procedure - use the copy machine to get the relevant pages to take home and get all greasy.
  • Haynes or Chiltons manuals are around $15 (US) and a great investment if you do much of your own repair and maintenance work. Check any auto parts or book stores for these.

This process is very lengthy, I would recommend that you purchase a Haynes or Chilton manual for you vehicle before attempting to replace the core. Simply put, the Heater core is located behind the dash of the vehicle. The entire dash must be removed to access the door. The hoses are located in the Engine compartment and they lead to the firewall. This is not a project to be taken on by a novice (no offense) and if you do plan to do it yourself, make sure you have another vehicle to rely on. Plan on your Taurus being out of commission for at least 2 days.

  1. 1 is absolutely right!

I've done 3 now and have it down to a full day each. It's a tedious bear!

There is a mechanic who found a way to do it without dash removal. It is in this article:

The heater hoses must be disconnected at the firewall, and the inlet and outlet of the core plugged to prevent coolant pouring out into the interior of the car. Disconnect the battery.

The steering column and dashboard must be entirely removed from the car to access the heater core which is located in the A/C evaporator case. The electric motor which moves the flaps which direct air to various vents is then removed, allowing the heater core cover to be opened. The core is then removed towards the rear of the car. The full instructions fill 48 printed pages in my Ford factory manual.

I have just had this problem myself and even though I wasn't the one who fixed it, my brother came up with a nifty little idea and now I believe it can be used as a nice little selling feature. Instead of removing the entire dash and steering column (what a rip off, this method is going to run you about $600-$800), just cut a whole in the dash in front of the heater core compartment, from the ash tray to the glove box and then approximately 8 inches up from the bottom edge of the dash. You will still have to remove the flapper adjuster motor, but instead of 10 hours for someone who knows how to do it, this should only take 3-4 for someone just bulling their way through. Good luck and enjoy saving about $500.

Hmmm, from the dude above, so now we have a big hole in the dash. Not a good idea. It is not a huge job, just takes a little time. Sit back, take a deep breath, and do it right.

you would have to rip the dash apart. its alot easier to spend the money taking it to a good reputable mechanic

There is a mechanic who found a way to do it without dash removal. It is in this article:

Buy the service manual from Ford, or the Chiltons or Haynes versions of a repair / service manual. - no need to remove the dash!!!

Try flushing it out first, unless its leaking.

This link, referenced above, is money! (literally - about $600) - no need to remove the dash!!!

I changed my heater core in less than 5 hrs without removing the dash, and that included time to try to glue the little plastic piece that easily breaks if not careful (see above link). You can even do it without taking out the radio, which the above links recommend. I'm not a novice, but by no means an expert, in working on cars either.

Thanks for the postings above!

Be sure to review the "Related Questions" below...

Do you want to keep the car forever?

If your answer is yes, have a reputable service garage or a dealership service center diagnose and/or replace the core. (approx. $500)

If you're not sure how long you want to keep the car or if you are a sportsman and you are small enough to fit on your back on the passenger side floor of the car, listen up...

1. Let the car cool down.

2. Drain the coolant by opening the petcock at the bottom right of the radiator. It is plastic, it is breakable, it is recessed in the lower radiator core support, use caution. remove the recovery reservoir cap to speed up the draining.

3. Locate the heater inlet and outlet hoses on the firewall. They look alot like A/C hoses because they have short rubber sections connected to longer bent steel sections bolted to the firewall. If you are lucky, you can remove the hose clamps at the firewall and pull the hose ends off. If you aren't as lucky, you can move the clamps as far out away from the firewall as possible and slice the hose ends lengthwise with a razor knife so they can be removed.

4. Take a picture of the hoses and their routes with a digital camera so you can replace them too. You will probably replace the entire circuit of heater hoses with rubber hoses cut to length. Leave the steel tubes on the car, they make great supports to zip tie the new hoses to and they help to keep the hoses out of the way of moving parts. Make sure to notice that there are two different diameter hoses used and two tee fittings.

5. Crawl under the passenger side of the dash and look up. You will see a black plastic molded cover about a foot and a half long. Pull the cover down (it isn't attached with any fasteners, just pressed up into the space).

6. Now look up again and you will see a white plastic electronic motor control module.

7. Remove the metal dash support which covers part of the electronic motor control module.

8. Unscrew the other screws holding the electronic motor control module in place and Duct Tape the module up out of your way.

9. Now you will be looking at a narrow rectangular black plastic cover for the heater core sitting at a slight upward angle. There is a metal spring (save this it is important) and a metal actuator stick held in place by a tiny c-clip. Remove them and keep track of them.

10. Remove the screws for the cover and pry the cover off with your fingernails. There is a foam gasket under the cover which will also need to be saved.

11. Now the heater core end will be visible and if you are very will be able to carefully slide it out and slightly sown past the wiring harness and bottom of the dashboard and remove it. If you are like me you may have to cut the part of the dash that obstructs the core or even loosen the right side trim screws that hold the dash in place. But, you do not have to remove the entire instrument panel. Cut just enough to get it out without bending the cooling fins on the end of the core. Save the section of dash you cut off, you can glue or tape it back in or just leave it off.

12. Save the foam insulating wrap on the old core and put it on the new core.

13. Slide the new core into the hole and reassemble the linkage, cover, and dash.

14. Carefully assemble new hoses, clamps, and fittings inside the engine compartment and route the hoses as the old ones were.

15. Fill the cooling system with about 10 quarts of water for now.

16. Look for leaks before you start the car.

17. Remember that the heater core is the gathering point for rust and sediment so you should invest in a professional back flush. They will fill the system with the proper mix of antifreeze.

18. GOOD LUCK...approx. 4 hours in a level driveway.

Get a manual on your car from DISCOUNTAUTOREPAIRMANUALS.COM and it will tell you how to replace your heater core. This is a hard job.

Many shops won't tell you they break part of the dash to do this job in half the time so they can still charge you for the full time

I am working on a 97 Taurus, which is similar.

The repair is involved and requires you to drain the cooling systems. Then remove the instrument cluster, that requires removal of the steering column.

Chilton has a manual that gives step by step directions. If you can't find it, we used to copy pages from the library's copy.

The manual is cheaper than just getting a mechanic to diagnose the problem.


Here is some help for 1999 Sable, single overhead cam 3.0.

Do you have to remove the entire dash? No! Steering column? Nope. Do you have to loosen the dash? Most definitely.

Start by removing the black panel under the glove box (most of this procedure is listed above). From there you can see the white box housing an electrical motor. Take it off. I also removed the glove box and the glove box surround (three screws on the hinge, turn storage compartment sideways and pull). The surround just pulls out, it is held in place with Christmas trees. Also remove the ash tray. It has wires that run to the cigarette lighter, just pull them off, press in the black plastic tabs on the sides and pull it forward.

Now you can see what you are doing. Behind that white electrical motor box is access to the heater core. Unscrew the cover, save the foam pad (see all those instructions above). Now, pull on the heater core (assuming you have already pulled off the hose in the engine compartment.) The heater core will hit part of the ashtray surround. It looks as if it will almost come out, doesn't it! And it will after you loosen the dash. Pop off the side covers of the dash in the door jams. You will see two screws on both driver's and passenger's sides. Loosen the drivers side until the bottom screw is almost out, and the top screw is just a few turns tighter than the bottom screw. Remove both screws on the passenger side. Pop off the defrost vent cover on top of the dash with a flat blade screw driver, or preferably a plastic wedge. You will see three screws, right, middle and left. Remove. Now the dash will be able to move forward and up, pivoting off the driver's side screws.

You may still have to cut a small piece of the dash. Pull the dash forward and up. Put a 2x4 under it to hold it or get your wife/buddy/relative to help you. If you don't have a wife/buddy/relative you better get the 2x4 and examine your blatant personality flaws. Pull the heater core forward and down. It may snag on the corner of the dash that was previously covered by the glove box surround. I cut this little corner off with a utility knife, and I am not sweating it because it all gets covered back up! Now get that nasty old core out, reverse directions with the new core, and if your impeller blades haven't rusted completely off like mine are, then you should have heat rolling out those vents!

I did not have to disconnect the steering column, radio, or any other such nonsense. Oh, and do your self a favor and remove the passenger seat. It is just four bolts and a little wiring harness. You can then roll around on the floor to find whatever angle you need to get your big head up under the dash.

This isn't easy. But it sure beats removing the radio, steering wheel, column, dash, vents, gauge harnesses, etc.

I have never seen steel coolant lines before. This must have been Ford's way of destroying the Taurus/Sable after 6-10 years of use. The 99 Sable is consistently getting better gas mileage than our 06 Taurus. The 99 has 180k, and runs so smooth! That 3.0 is a great motor, and now that I have a new heater core and water pump, I hope to put another 100k on it.

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Q: How do you change a heater core on a 1996-1999 Taurus - Sable?
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