I generally don’t like to whine on Toolmonger, but screw it, today I’m gonna get my whine on. It seems like every vehicle has an achilles heel when it comes to repairs. Sure, it might be easy to replace the water pump, but the fuel pump’s on top of the gas tank. Or the water pump’s behind half the front of the engine. You know what I’m talking about.
Well, I found one of those on my ’97 Ford F150. Guess what you’ve gotta do to get at the heater core: pull the whole f*#$ing dash. I’m not talking about the instrument cluster, either. You’ve got to pull the entire damn dash out, including dismantling the passenger-side air bag. Apparently Ford decided that leaving the core accessible below the glove box — like all sane manufacturers have for years — isn’t the way to go. Instead, they decided to place it in the freakin’ middle of the firewall behind the dash.
Then, to compound matters, they must have figured, “Hey, let’s avoid all those squeaks and crap by just making the dash one big piece. Screw those mechanics. The core should last beyond warranty anyway, right?”
According to the book, diagnosing/troubleshooting the core and replacing it is an 8+ hour job. At $65 an hour in a shop, you’d pay at least $500 in labor alone to get the job done.
I used to think that some cars are significantly better than others when it comes to repair work, but the more time I spend in the shop, the more I think that every manufacturer has something to hide. Bah!
PS: It’s actually a great work truck, but I’m just pissed off at it for right now. Don’t write your congressman. I’ll be ok as soon as it’s back on the road.
Update: It’s leaking, so I can’t just not use the heater. Thanks for all the supportive comments. The dash is out and the ‘core is exposed now. Hopefully tomorrow the new core’ll go in. FWIW, this kind of design strikes me as incredibly jackass. Why is this necessary? Also, I’m blown away with how amateurish the wiring harness looks in the Ford. What about tubing and labelling? It’s just a bunch of electrical-taped BS. Wow.