I have the same problem with my 1997 f150. I've already had the heater core replaced once, and am having to do it again. Unfortunately, 1997 was the first year that replacing the heater core became very difficult.
It is located under the passenger side dash, slightly to the left of your glove box. The problematic thing is that in order to remove this heater core you have to 1: drop the steering column, and 2: remove the entire dash from the firewall and drop it back. This, by manual, is an 8 hour job and would be a rather expensive repair if having a Ford dealer do it.
If you are planning on doing it I would advise going to your local ford dealer and ask them to print you a copy of how to break down your dash (they have those manuals there)
If you can do this, although it's a long process, you can do the job.
*** Caution ***
Never open, service or drain the radiator or cooling system when hot; serious burns can occur from the steam and hot coolant. Also when draining engine coolant, keep in mind that cats and dogs are attracted to ethylene glycol antifreeze and could drink ant that is left in an uncovered container or in puddles on the ground. This will prove fatal in sufficient quantities. Always drain coolant into a sealable container. Coolant should be reused unless it is contaminated or is several years old.
1. Disconnect the battery ground cable
2. Drain and recycle the engine coolant.
3. Remove the instrumental panel.
4. If equipped with the 5.4L 4V engine, remove the junction block splash shield.
5. If equipped with the 5.4L 4V engine, remove the bolts and disconnect the cable ends from the starter relay.
6. If equipped with the 5.4L 4V engine, remove the junction block bracket.
7. Disconnect the heater core hose couplings.
8. Remove the retaining screw and remove the A/C plenum demister adapter.
9. Disconnect the vacuum line from the A/C plenum demister adapter.
10. Remove the heater core bracket.
11. Remove the 13 plenum chamber top retaining screws.
12. Remove the plenum chamber top.
13. Remove the blend door assembly from the case.
14. Remove the heater core.
15. The installation is the reverse of the removal.
You can also download a very detailed step-by-step 20-page heater core replacement procedure with photos and diagrams for the 1997 F150 at http://www.heatercorereplacement.com/index.php/models/ford_1997_f150/
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no, I want to know, where do i start?
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No , unless the spring is damaged