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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I have already found some answers regarding replacing the heater core and I have seen the video on you tube for the shortcut. I already have the heater core on hand and will try and tackle this soon. In addition to a busted heater core, I have a leaking freeze plug. I am pretty sure its the evil one that I have seen others state requires removal of the transmission. It leaks very slowly and after 24 hours or so it starts to puddle up near the middle of the vehicle at firewall depth. I have not jacked the car up to spot the exact position of the leak but am sure from the symptoms it is freeze plug.

While looking at where the heater core is on the firewall, I noticed its going to be a bit of a bear to get my arms back in there and position plyers etc to remove the clamps and hoses. The upper intake manifold is quite an impediment.

Here is my question, if I were to remove the upper intake manifold to get easier access to the heater core, would it be possible for me to get down behind the engine and get any leaking freeze plugs out and put new ones in? I have never seen the exact position of any of the freeze plugs. Never seen pictures and the haynes manual doesn't seem to be of any help there. I just figured that if it would be possible for me to get to the freeze plugs by removing the upper intake manifold, then it may be worth my time since I could get to the heater core hoses much easier too.

Thanks!
 

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1997 Ford Taurus 3.0L Wagon 226,362 miles
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I haven't done the heater core on my '97 GL Vulcan (3.0) yet, but eventually I probably WILL have to do it. But the elbow hoses to the heater core on my car SEEM reachable and I'm hoping that I can just reach down and remove them. Maybe on your SE there's more stuff in the way?

I suppose removing the UIM WOULD make things a little easier by reducing the height of the engine. And if you're going to remove it, you might as well commit to de-carbonizing it, changing the plugs, cleaning the EGR passages, the throttle body, etc. while you're at it.

As far as the freeze plugs, I believe they're on all sides of the engine. My Mom's '97 GL sedan (also a Vulcan) once blew a plug on the firewall side as she was driving along. Fortunately she immediately stopped the car preventing any engine damage. A new plug and coolant refill is all she needed. It didn't appear that the UIM had been removed to replace it, but a "professional" did the work. Maybe they have special tools to get in there at the right angle. Without such tools, removing the UIM (plus the sensors and plug wires) seems like it would help clear the way to the plugs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, I don't know why I didn't think to try it earlier, but a bottle of Bar's Heavy Duty Stop Leak plugged the leak in the heater core within 10 seconds. This car has 177K on it and I would prefer just to ride it out as long as possible. I let the car run with heat on full blast for over an hour and then took it for about a 5 mile ride. Whoever had the car before me (I bought it at 161K) obviously didn't flush it. I had to replace the water pump within 2K miles of ownership, so the radiator fluid is still clean. I don't know if I will luck and end up getting the freeze plug sealed too, but that would be side benefit. It probably only leaks 1 oz or so of fluid when sitting cold for an entire weekend. It's a really slow leak and if you drive the car daily, you never see any accumulation.

As for the heater core hoses, yes they are "right there", but when trying to fit my arm down there with a pair of needle nose plyers, I had no luck getting a grip on the hose clamps. It seems like the clamps are recessed a little bit, due to the fire wall material around them, so if I ever do change the core, those hoses look like they will be a pain in the rear to get to.
 

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1997 Ford Taurus 3.0L Wagon 226,362 miles
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Yeah - when I first starting doing the heater core flushes on my Taurus years ago I thought I was going to have to remove those elbow hoses on the firewall and I seem to remember what you're talking about (the spring clips being recessed). Maybe some 'OFFSET' needle-nose LOCKING pliers would do the trick? I'm not a mechanic, but what I've learned while doing repairs on my cars the past 25+ years is that angle, positioning, and technique are more important than tools the vast majority of the time.

Personally, I don't like the idea of using those 'Stop Leak' concoctions. Who's to say that while a leak is being stopped, a perfectly clear area isn't being constricted (or blocked all together). I think these things can do more harm than good (because they're so imprecise). My advice would be: if you KNOW the part is bad, replace it. Even at 177k, your Taurus is only 10 years old and has been driven a routine 17k/year. It could go another 4-5 years EASY (with minimal cost in repairs).

You say the freeze plug "only leaks 1 oz. or so of fluid", but at some point it will just fail catastrophically, with coolant literally gushing out of the block. If you have a plug that you KNOW is leaking, I'd recommend getting it replaced before it blows out on you at the worst of times (dark and cold night in the Northeast). As long as it's not the plug hidden behind the tranny, an independent mechanic shouldn't kill you on the the price to fix it. It's a $5 part and an hour of labor (shouldn't be more than $100, I would think). Plus - this is one of those repairs that - if you have to pay to have it done - at least you'll be able to verify that it actually WAS done (as opposed to some 'phantom' problem where the mechanic is just replacing part after part and running up the tab on you).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, I don't disagree with you on it blowing out at the worst time. It could happen. Your reference to the northeast caught my attention and I updated my profile, I am in middle/south GA, so fortunately it shouldn't happen with any snow on the ground!

I jack the car up soon and see if I can spot the exact position of the leak. From where the fluid accumulates, I am pretty sure it's behind the transmission. I may be wrong, but I can't find any diagrams or pictures to locate all the freeze plugs.

As for the "quick fix products", I don't have a problem using them because I have had success in the past with them. I realize they are temporary and in the case of the heater core, it was just to make sure I wasn't pouring fluid all over the inside of the car and to make sure I have heat. The car still blows hot heat and so I know there is decent circulation still occurring.

Nonetheless, this is not a permanent fix, and I plan on getting it taken care of eventually. Unfortunately, this vehicle and the Chrysler T&C I purchased, are haveing $$$ problems. The T&C has 2nd gear going out and that will require a more immediate attention because that's the wife's car.

THanks for the reply.
 

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someone told me that using a air blower and blowing air into the heater core at the firewall tubes will unclog one...is that possible or will it screw something up worse?
Low pressure not 100 psi kind of blasting. Gentle pressure as much as blowing by mouth will agitate the scale and residues to release and back flow out. I used a rag and a spray tip with about 10 psi to line with a regulator. Just a few short pumps of pressure and then added more water and repeated about a dozen times. Clean the last 3!
 

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Yeah, set the pressure regulator to less than or equal to the radiator cap pressure rating. Usually 15-20 psi. If you use shop air pressure and you have a clog, you could start blowing hoses.
 
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