Replacing a heater coil is not a task that happens often; however, parts can malfunction, and they often need repairing or replacing when we least expect it. This is just one of the factors in owning and maintaining a vehicle.
If your vehicle is a Ford F-150, you should consider how much this project could possibly cost you before committing to replacing the heater core.
The average cost for a Ford F-150 heater core replacement is approximately between $564 and $927. This is an average estimate and includes the combined costs of parts and labor.
The parts are fairly inexpensive and normally cost between $80 and $234.
Labor costs are priced a little higher due to the location of the heater core which is located behind the vehicle’s dashboard. Therefore, the location of the heater core makes the task more arduous.
It can take approximately eight hours to replace your vehicle’s heater core because the dashboard must be disassembled, the heater core must be replaced, and then the dashboard must be reassembled.
It is much cheaper to purchase the parts and complete the project yourself; however, this can be a tedious and laborious process.
Therefore, please consider the following information before making the final decision to replace the heater core in your Ford F-150.
- What is a Heater Core?
- How Does the Heater Core Function?
- How do I Identify a Faulty Heater Core?
- Should I Drive the Vehicle with a Faulty Heater Core?
- When Should I Have the Heater Core Replaced?
- How Often do Heater Cores Require Replacement?
- DIY Heater Core Replacement
- Heater Core Replacement Cost Comparison From Leading Garage Chains (Quotes)
- How to Save Money on Heater Core Replacement
- How Can I Avoid Heater Core Problems?
- Related Guides
- Benefits of Heater Core Replacement
What is a Heater Core?
The heater core is an essential vehicle component. It is a radiator-like device that is mounted behind the dashboard, and it allows the heated coolant from the engine to circulate throughout the passenger cabin.
This process allows the vehicle’s heater to obtain warm air.
The purpose of the vehicle’s heater core is to disseminate heat and let the heater and defroster function appropriately.
Therefore, when the heater core breaks, your vehicle will be left without any heat because the antifreeze can no longer flow appropriately to the correct places.
How Does the Heater Core Function?
The heater core works by pulling heat from the warm coolant as it leaves the motor. When the driver turns on the heating mechanism, the blower motor blows air over the heater core and into the vehicle’s cabin.
How do I Identify a Faulty Heater Core?
You may have a faulty heater core if the cabin of your vehicle is not heating as it should. You might be experiencing foggy windows in the vehicle’s cabin.
You may also notice the scent of a sweet coolant aroma filling the air inside the cabin. You might even notice a puddle of coolant on the passenger-side floorboard.
The heater core could possibly be clogged. If this is the case, the air that blows out from the heater will not be very warm.
To correctly identify that your vehicle’s problems are being caused by a faulty heater core, it is best to seek the expert opinion of a professional mechanic.
Should I Drive the Vehicle with a Faulty Heater Core?
Failing to repair or replace the heater core may not leave you stranded in need of roadside assistance, but it could provide you and your passengers with an uncomfortable riding experience, especially during the winter months.
Driving without a heat-filled vehicle or trying to see the road with frosted-over windows can be unpleasant and possibly dangerous.
If the heater core is leaking coolant, this could also lead to overheating of the engine.
Although your vehicle is drivable with a faulty heater core, it is not recommended that you do so.
If you choose to do so, not only do you risk causing damage to the vehicle’s engine but also you risk damaging the vehicle’s entire cooling system.
To enjoy your driving experience comfortably and safely, it is best to replace the heater core.
When Should I Have the Heater Core Replaced?
The best time to have the heater core replaced is when you notice that the heat inside your vehicle is no longer functioning.
When this happens, it means that the heater core is either clogged, or damaged, or the coolant is leaking from somewhere.
A clog can form in the heater core due to coolant residue buildup. Therefore, it is important to have the heater core routinely flushed as a part of your routine vehicle maintenance.
A coolant leak could possibly occur in the heating core. This may be identified by the smell exuding from the dashboard vents, or you may notice a small pooling of liquid on the passenger-side floorboard.
Coolant is a toxic substance; therefore, a leaking heater core may result in you and your passengers being exposed to toxic inhalants. These toxic fumes are harmful and may cause one to become ill.
If your Ford F-150, or any vehicle, shows any of the symptoms discussed, it would be best to consider replacing the heater core at your earliest convenience.
How Often do Heater Cores Require Replacement?
Fortunately, most vehicles will never have an issue with needing the heater core replaced. The longevity of the heater core centers around having the heater core routinely maintained and flushed.
However, if you fail to do so, the probability of needing to replace the heater core greatly increases.
DIY Heater Core Replacement
The parts needed to replace a heater core are fairly inexpensive; however, completing this task yourself can be very tedious and complicated.
It is best to begin by checking your Ford F-150’s vehicle manual before committing to this laborious task. The manual will show you where the heater core is located.
What Materials Will be Needed for This Task?
- Replacement heater core
- Heater core o-rings
- Repair manual
- Trim removal tools
- Socket set
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Flathead screwdriver
- Large drain pan
Steps for Replacing the Heater Core
- Disconnect the vehicle battery.
- Disconnect the coolant lines from the heater core.
- Remove the old heater core.
- Remove the glove box.
- Disconnect the vacuum line connector and panel pod.
- Remove the heater core.
- Install the new heater core.
- Install the heater core access panel.
- Install the blend door actuator bracket and properly secure the hoses to the firewall.
- Install the blend door actuator and reconnect the wire harness to it.
- Install the floor panel vacuum pod.
- Reconnect the vacuum lines and secure them with hold-downs.
- Reinstall the glove box door.
- Refill the coolant.
- Reconnect the vehicle battery.
The installation should now be complete. It is important to ensure that no air or leaks are existent in the lines. It is also recommended that you purchase new quick disconnects for the engine bay hoses.
These quick disconnects are inexpensive and will safeguard a leak-free fit.
Heater Core Replacement Cost Comparison From Leading Garage Chains (Quotes)
We have gathered a few pricing quotes from some popular garage chains for your Ford F-150 heater core replacement. These quotes do include parts, labor costs, and a 12-month warranty.
Please keep in mind that these prices will vary depending on location and model year.
- Your Mechanic ($550 – $940)
- Midas ($580 – $920)
- Mr. Tire ($571 – $999)
- Pep Boys ($545 – $978)
How to Save Money on Heater Core Replacement
Across all vehicle makes and models, the heater core part is fairly inexpensive. However, labor costs can quickly add up. These high costs are due to the heater core being located behind the vehicle’s dashboard.
Therefore, replacing the heater core is a laborious task. Not only does this task involve removing the dashboard, but it also includes disconnecting the hoses in which the coolant flows.
It might be in your best interest to seek a cost estimate from a professional mechanic for your heater core replacement.
Keep in mind that cheaper parts and installation fees could possibly lead to leaks, and their longevity might not be as long as some of the more expensive brands.
Although the heater core may not be a critical mechanism for a car running, it is crucial to the overall comfortability of the passengers. Therefore, you do want to ensure that the heater core is functioning effectively at all times.
Seek out a reputable mechanic that has experience in replacing heater cores.
How Can I Avoid Heater Core Problems?
To avoid problems with your Ford F-150’s heater core, it is best to service the heater core according to the schedule that is suggested in the owner’s manual.
It is also important to use the correct fluid at the appropriate level in the cooling system. Do not allow the level of coolant to get lower than the recommended amount.
Benefits of Heater Core Replacement
The heater core allows the vehicle’s defroster and heater to function appropriately, and it acts as a miniature radiator that controls the vehicle’s heating system.
If the heater core stops functioning properly, the temperature in your vehicle will begin dropping causing discomfort for the passengers. A faulty heater core can also lead to engine damage if not replaced.
The replacement costs are not extremely high; therefore, it is beneficial to have the heater core replaced if it is no longer functioning.
Replacing the heater core in your Ford F-150 will lead to optimized cooling and efficient engine operation. It will also allow you and your passengers to have a more comfortable traveling experience. You may be interested in our guide on the blower motor.