How to Install the Heater Core on a 1986 Ford Aerostar

If your Ford Aerostar van is loosing coolant and you have a wet spot on the passenger's floorboard, you probably have a bad heater core. A heater core, which is essentially a miniature radiator, will get corroded and leak, just like radiators do. The heater core mounts to the firewall through the passenger compartment. Fortunately, the Aerostar's heater core is easier to remove than those of most other vehicles.

Tools Used: Plastic shopping bags, Phillips screwdriver, Old towels, Coolant

Install Heater Core

Park the Aerostar on a level, paved surface and set the parking brake. Make sure the heater is in the off position. Allow the Aerostar to cool before working on the heater core.

Open the hood and locate where the two heater hoses attach to the heater core tubes. Push the plastic tabs on the end of one of the hoses together and pull the hose off of the heater core tube. Immediately plug the hose with a plastic shopping bag to prevent coolant loss. Repeat for the other hose. Note which core tube each hose goes on.

Move to the passenger compartment and use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the six screws from the heater core cover. Pull off the cover.

Place some old towels on the floorboard because when you pull the heater core out some coolant will probably spill out of it. Lift up on the retaining clip at the upper left corner of the heater core and pull the core out of the housing.

Lift up on the retaining clip and slide the new core into the housing, guiding the heater core tubes through the holes in the housing and firewall. Install the cover and screws.

Push the heater hoses onto the heater core tubes until they click into place. Check your coolant level and add coolant if necessary. Start the engine and turn the heater on. Check for leaks. Turn off the engine and check the coolant level again because the new heater core will now be full of coolant and the level will go down a little.

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