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After changing the heater core on Chuck’s old F-150 we used to joke about the rest of the truck being built around it. On Sunday night, the History Channel’s excellent Modern Marvels episode on American trucking happened to show the Deerborn Michigan plant where F-150s are built — and it turns out that it’s almost completely true.

The show walked through how the pickups are built and the different stations on the line. Apparently the entire dash, instrument panel, steering wheel, and sound system go on over the heater core in one piece. And that piece only takes 50 seconds to attach to the truck. Now if only we could get it back out of there that fast.

Is it a big deal? No. But it’s funny to see we weren’t really wrong.

Modern Marvels [History]


16 Responses to Ford Heater Core: We Were Right!

  1. Blake Girardot says:

    Dearborn, MI.

  2. sean says:

    Pfft! You haven’t pulled a heater core until you’ve done one on a Jag XJ-6. There’s this dash support that if moved by 1 inch in engineering design, would allow the removal of 6-8 screws and the heater core would just slide out.

    Starting at the back seat, remove the center console and move your way forward. 38 hours later (book time), your Jag has a new heater core and is completely back together and on the road.

    • Chuck Cage says:

      Is it wrong that every time I read the word “Jag” I hear Clarkson saying it: “Jaaaaaag.”

      • Sean says:

        Top Gear is good; however, my pronounciation changed depending on where I was in the love/hate relationship. Unfortunately, in my Highschool/CC years, I got hooked into rebuilding the engines in an XKE and an old Mk2 sedan and it marked me for life as an English Car Mechanic. So every doggone thing English tended to migrate to my side of the garage when they came around. Even had a Silver Shadow II come in, defeated in its latest high tech operation by a 1930’s fuse panel whose brass rivet had loosened in holding down its brass clip to the 1970s PC board substrate and caused the owner to proclaim it was possessed due to the odd times the ignition would suddenly cut and leave him dead on the side of the road. Thermal time delay cutout.

  3. sean says:

    While we’re on that subject, a long bar and an 8 lb sledge hammer cut a tremendous amount of time off Ford Ranger clutch replacements for the same reasons. All you’re doing is providing clearance to remove 2 long bolts and it’s worth about 4 hours time savings.

    • Joe says:

      Ford ranger top 2 bolts I presume…. Drop driveshaft, remove tranny crossmember, loosen engine mounts, tilt and remove.

      or get a 4 foot extension for a socket wrench.

      • Toolfreak says:

        I use two 24″ extensions and a wobble adapter, or sometimes a universal joint adapter depending on the angle. Break ’em loose with a 3/8″ breaker bar and spin ’em with a socket ’til they’re out.

        I don’t think I’d want to bang up the transmission hump, the tilt method seems more professional, and looks less like I’m a redneck. Not that anyone else really sees the underside of the truck…

  4. Don Haddan says:

    You are exactly right. I changed the heater core on my 2001 F-150 and cussed most of the way through it. I remember commenting at the time to several folks about having to disassemble half the truck to get the heater core.

  5. AK-John says:

    I wish manufacturers would build a vehicle with maintenance issues like this in mind. I guess they design the production line in terms of speed and cost. But must maintenance always take a back seat?

  6. Oldfool says:

    It’s a bout a twenty minute job on my 1987 Bronco 11.
    No vacuum controls in this vehicle. All cable. This vehicle is easy to work on.
    My 93 F150 heater core comes out under the dash and is easy as well.

  7. elmegil says:

    Ford’s been doing it that way a long time. I remember the fun I had putting the dash on my ’79 Zephyr in the back seat so I could replace the heater core.

    That Jag sounds way worse though 🙂

  8. rob says:

    oddly enough the rangers and bronco2 and explorers had one of the easiest heater cores to change
    from 83-95 man I am still grad I drive one

    old fool I had some 4 or 5 bronco 2 ‘s great little trucks so long as you stay away from the automatic

  9. o1d_dude says:

    Anyone tried replacing a 1994 Ford F-150 headlamp housing recently?


    Consider yourself lucky.

  10. Jason says:

    My first car was a Mustang with a leaky heater core. After wasting an entire Saturday unscrewing crap and getting essentially nowhwere, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I plugged the inlet hose with a bolt and a hose clamp. Once a year, I’d reconnect the hose, get the car inspected at the nearest garage, then reconnect it and refill the radiator.

  11. zdiggler says:

    That’s with pretty much all fords. Changed T-bird heater core and pretty much whole dash have to come out to replace it.

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