All steamed up about my coolant leak | FordForumsOnline.com
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All steamed up about my coolant leak

Discussion in 'Ford Crown Victoria' started by bradleyheathhays, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. bradleyheathhays

    bradleyheathhays Member

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    Guess I might as well settle in here as a regular the way this cars going. Got a 2011 Vic w 280k that seems to have developed a heater box coolant leak over the course of a couple hours yesterday. Defrost stopped working (in the rain) and eventually steam started pouring out the dash vents. The engine began to overheat same time the steam started so I pulled it over to cool off for an hour and nurse myself back to health with a beer. Got back in for the leg home and noticed about 1/4 cup of coolant on the pass floor board mat. So it was no surprise when she started overheating again after about 3-4 miles. The reservoir drank about 2 gals of distilled water and that got her the rest of the way in.

    Testing back at the house reveals a pouring leak coming out the bottom of the car right on top of the cat converters way back at the firewall. Crawling underneath, the leak was seen to be coming from a short 1" tube that sticks out from the firewall right above the cat. Not for sure but I would almost bet this is a drainage tube for when the heater core springs a leak.

    How likely is this to be my heater box (don't see how it couldn't be) and what do I start doing to get it swapped out? Just got the big heavy shop manual so that'll be a help. I've seen some youtube heater core swap out videos but the closest they come to my year is maybe a 2003.
  2. Dominick 1

    Dominick 1 Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    #12 is the heater core 3793f1edc6acf806141292d34babe253[1].png
    18 is the evaporator hose and tube assy
    #1 and # 14 come in an assy
    the core can be replaced
    #10 is the drain tube for the heater and evaporator case
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  3. Dominick 1

    Dominick 1 Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    51bb2d08590a63e2064660999c5f0033[1].png
  4. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    The heater box also has an AC function within the box. One of the functions of the AC is to remove humidity (Moisture/water) from the air inside the vehicle. When the AC does that function the moisture (in the form of water) collects at the bottom of the heater box. It is not good to have that water collect inside the heater box do there is a drain from inside the heater box to outside the vehicle. Typically under the car and on the passenger side. That drain is called a condensate drain.

    In your case the water that is draining out is coolant. The heater core has a leak and is pour coolant into the heater box and into the condensate drain where by it exits the bottom of the vehicle. The "heater box" is OK and the heater core needs to be replaced or removed and repaired. Your shop manual will have steps as to replacing the heater core.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Action
  5. bradleyheathhays

    bradleyheathhays Member

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    Thanks for the illustrations Dominick. And thanks for straightening out my terminology Action. I was using 'heater box' and 'heater core' interchangeably.

    Any links to how this heater core swap out is done on a 2011 Vic? There are so many nuts and screws 'way back there' that I'm afraid the videos of this being done on older models won't be up to date enough to apply to my '11.
  6. Dominick 1

    Dominick 1 Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    I have no links for that
    Try e-Bay for a shop manual
  7. bradleyheathhays

    bradleyheathhays Member

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    No doubt, get the manual. I've been putting off the expense but this is def a good enough reason to make the investment. Was lucky and ran into someone who says they've got some links so hopefully I'll have that info soon.

    Is the heater core one of those parts where you should always replace with OEM? If it makes any difference my mileage is at 280k and it does about 25k city miles a year, although the transmission is relatively new. I found a motorcraft model from rockauto for $100 w/ express shipping, but locally I'm finding Murray and Carquest versions for about $35. Tight budget and no time right now so the cheaper and faster the better.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  8. Dominick 1

    Dominick 1 Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    I know about the very tight budget
    I made a mistake and bought an aftermarket radiator and it leaked
    So I paid labor twice
    So It's catch 22
  9. bradleyheathhays

    bradleyheathhays Member

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    Whew this is a kick in the pants one way or another. As this is a work vehicle, even fixing it myself I'll probably be out around a grand after this is all done.

    Is it necessary to take the steering wheel off to do this heater core swap? One person says it is, but in the youtube videos they just drop the column and pull the dash out far enough on the right side to do the swap.
  10. Dominick 1

    Dominick 1 Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    It just depends on your skill set if you did it every day it would have more confidence
    We used to have a fellow on the Forum that could do it very quickly
    You may have to at least loosen the left side to give you some wiggle room
  11. Iowan

    Iowan Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    It's one of those things that the first time is a struggle, the next time it's done in half the time and the third time it's the same thing you just get faster. But the first time you pull a dash is a pain.
  12. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    I have had good luck with non-Ford cores. This job is more labor than parts.

    Using the shop manual may save you a lot of grief. I have never removed a steering wheel to replace a core. However I have never replaced a core in a vehicle newer than 1990.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>.Action
  13. bradleyheathhays

    bradleyheathhays Member

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    Thanks for the encouragement yall. Looks like it'll just be me and the shop manual to get this done. Thought there was a somewhat current (for my 2011) video out there but I was mistaken. Turns out the closest complete video is for about a '99 grand marquis and I'm not sure if they're all that similar.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
    Action likes this.
  14. Iowan

    Iowan Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    What I would do first is verify that it is not the heater hose that's not leaking, water has a way of following a path then dropping off the path at the lowest point.
  15. bradleyheathhays

    bradleyheathhays Member

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    Yes that was one of the first places I looked and to my disappointment it was dry as a bone. What convinced me it was the core was the coolant in the passenger floorboard. Tell ya how much of a time crunch I'm in I started in on a job on my other vehicle last night/this morning about 4a and finished up with getting this heater core out of the Vic about 9a. Temp was in the 30s when I started and by 6 anything wet with dew was frozen. Not fun, but at least I was able to confirm the core is the actual problem. Now we'll see how well it all goes back together when the replacement gets here on Tuesday.
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  16. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    Report back as to the progress of the installation.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>Action
  17. bradleyheathhays

    bradleyheathhays Member

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    Will do. Part just got in a couple hours ago so we'll see how it goes...
  18. bradleyheathhays

    bradleyheathhays Member

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    Sorry it took so long to get back but replacing the heater core went just fine...couldn't believe it. One video said it took them 3 guys to get it back on but I think it probably had more to do with getting it aligned right. Cold as hell when I did it though...all done just below freezing out in my driveway. I really needed it to go well and it did. I owe people here more than I can say.
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  19. Dominick 1

    Dominick 1 Well-Known Member Respected Member

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    Now keep warm:)
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  20. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    Thanks so much for coming back and posting your result.

    As to the 3 guys, may be they had some adult beverages which altered the time of the repair.

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