How to Replace the Heater Core in a 1997 Ford Escort

by Chris Moore

Like many cars, replacing the heater core in a Ford Escort is not an easy task. If your heater isn't working and you know the core is the problem, it must be replaced. However, you must disassemble the car's entire dashboard (instrument panel) in order to reach the housing that contains the core. This is why most Escort owners will leave this task to a professional.

Step 1

Disconnect the Escort's negative battery cable to shut off the power. Drain the cooling system, pouring the coolant into a clean container for reuse. Turn the front wheels so they face straight ahead and lock the steering column.

Step 2

Open the hood and disconnect the heater hoses from the heater core.

Step 3

Remove the steering wheel from its column. Disconnect the airbag module from the wheel first by removing its bolts, lifting it off the wheel and disconnecting its electrical connectors. Remove the passenger airbag by disconnecting the bolts and connector within the glove box. Place both modules somewhere safe with their fronts facing upward.

Step 4

Detach the instrument panel from inside the car. You must remove the floor console and all adjacent trim panels, disconnect the Powertrain Control module and hood release handle, lower the steering column and disconnect all electrical connectors on the instrument panel. Remove all the instrument panel support bolts and pull the panel off the car.

Step 5

Disconnect the antenna lead from the heater core housing, the vacuum control motor vacuum connector and the vacuum lines from the evaporator housing. Disconnect the defroster nozzle connectors and remove the clamp screw on the air-conditioning evaporator outlet duct.

Step 6

Open the heater core housing by removing all its nuts. Take out the heater dash panel seal, open the heater core cover and remove the core.

Step 7

Install the new heater core in the core housing and reassemble the housing. Reconnect all connectors to the heater core housing, evaporator and defroster.

Step 8

Reassemble the entire instrument panel, steering column and airbag modules. Connect the heater hoses to the core, refill the cooling system and reconnect the battery cable.

Step 9

Run the engine to its normal temperature and check for leaks in the climate control system.

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