i just replaced the heater core in my 96 ranger and the only way to do it is to remove the dash, if there had been an easier way i would have been able to determine it as i was doing mine, i definitely was looking for the easy way. if mine ever goes bad again, im taking it to the repair shop
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!
The only way is remove the dash. Don't bother with the instrument panel. Remove the panel under the steering wheel and the 4 bolts holding the steering column up. The is one bolt for the dash on the passenger side and two on the driver side. Access them by removing the side kick panel. There is one small bolt by the gas pedal. Pop up the defrost cover on the top of the dash and you will find the other bolts that hold the dash in. Unbolt the evap housing and hold it to one side out of the way. Don't remove the refrigerant lines. The bolts holding the heater housing can be accessed from under the hood except one that is at the bottom of the housing in the cab. Pull the dash back far enough to allow clearance for the heater housing to be pulled back far enough to remove the heater core. The core slides down into the housing from the top. There is a small cover with 5 screws.
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