Heater Core for a 1996 Ford Ranger 6 cylinder 3.0 For all those looking to attempt this job, novice mechanics of course, put aside a whole weekend just in case. I looked all over ford forums for advice on replacing this part, I found very little in details. This past weekend a buddy and I attempted this chore and nearly quit twice. But we pushed ahead and fixed it. Here's how. The part itself runs around $50, estimates for replacing it ran between $600 - $1000. When you do it yourself, you'll see why. Buying a manual helped me very little. Being a novice mechanic, it did help me find a few parts I didn't know existed, that's about it.
Quick fix: Take the two radiator tubes that run into the heater core and tie them together. Go to a parts shop with the shorter hose to get it fitted with a connector ( basically a round plastic tube that goes inside each tube, this will bypasses the heater core. No more leaks in the cab of truck. Cheap fix, two hose clamps and the connector piece.
Winter is here and you've got to fix the SOB now! Tools needed - full socket set, extra socket extentions, small open face wrenchs 4mm - 9mm ( needed to reach tight bolts on fire wall ), Flat & Philips screwdriver, hex set, sharp knife, needle nose pliers, electrical tape, marker, plastic cups, an optimistic buddy and case of beer.
First step: If you've already bypassed the heater core then you don't have to drain your radiator. If not, go ahead and drain it. Next, loosen up one connection on your battery. You can keep it on for most of the job, but as you get closer to the steering column, you'll want to disconnect it to avoid setting off the airbag. You will have to pop off the dash to get to the large black plastic piece that houses the heater core. This process took me around 7 hours, remember I'm completely a novice. Start with the glove box and start unscrewing. The manual shows where many of the screws are, but the diagram is hard to understand. You'll find that many of the vents just pop right off, small side vents, smaller top vents, passenger side airbag compartment ( I don't have an airbag on that side so it just popped right off ). If you have an airbag there, I suggest asking a mechanic on what to do next. You can call a ford service shop, most mechanics will be helpful in telling you what to do. Next move over to the radio area and unscrew the screws holding it in place. Many screws are hidden underneath, once they are removed you can just pop it off. There will be many wires, two on the radio, power plug to the cigarette lighter along with a ground plug, antenna wire( it runs across the right side of the dash up into the corner, you'll want to pull it completely through when you dislodge the dash - it hangs up the dash if you don't ) just push in the release tabs and pop them off the radio. If you're worried about forgetting where they go, take some masking tape and label the wires with radio, cigarette lighters….etc. Next move over to the driver's side (POP THE HOOD FIRST) and unscrew the hood latch, tape the screws to the latch once removed ( I found that it helped if I taped the screws to the pieces they belonged to ). Unscrew the break release, then unscrew the panel under the steering wheel, plastic and metal. Then start on the instrument panel, airvent, fuse box ( watch out for the ground wire that runs to one of the gold bolts - driver's side - that hold the dash on, put a piece of tape on it so that you don't lose it, you should see it when you pop off the side plastic runners. To reach some of the screws near the door area, you will have to remove the bottom plastic piece ( on the left side of the pedals same on the other side, runner guard will have to be loosened to pop the bottom side pieces off. Also take off the plastic runner piece that runs along the door frame right inside the cab, both sides. They pop off easily. Also pop off the black plastic piece that runs the length of the dash near the windshield. You'll start to notice the gold colored bolts that secure the dash to the frame, two on the driver's side, one on the passenger's side, two above the dash under and another one(two?) on the passenger's side dash. Along with two smaller black screws near the windshield on the dash. Don't take them off just yet. Your truck should look like a disaster area, I almost quit at this point.
1995 and later models are done in this order, disconnect the negative battery cable, remove the instrument panel, remove the evaporator core housing, drain the radiator, disconnect the heater hoses, remove the nuts and the plenum chamber, remove the screws and remove the heater core cover, remove the heater core. Installation is reverse of removal. Sounds easy but it can be a lot of work but it is a lot easy than pulling your entire dash. Don't forget to reservice your radiator fluid and havew your air conditioner reservice. You'll save a lot of money following these procedures. Good Luck!
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