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Canadafix, Canadian class A certified
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 1632
Experience:  Canadian automotive technician.Class "A" certified
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1998 Ford Taurus: It blows air but does not get hot.

Customer Question

I have a 1998 Ford Taurus. The heat does not work on it. It blows air but does not get hot. I took the car to a mechanic and he said there is a two-fold problem. First, he said that the intake hose to the core is hot and the outtake hose is ice cold, so there is a clog of some kind. He said it was about $800 to $100 to replace the heater core. However, he said that one of the head gaskets on the engine is "bad" or "going bad." He said that replacing the heater core would only serve to exacerbate the problem with the head gasket, causing more "pressure" in the gasket which will eventually cause major problems with the engine. He also said that there was a leak of some kind with the coolant. It was all very confusing to me, and as much as I tried to ask for details in layman's terms, I remained absolutely confused as to what to do. Right now, except for the heat not working, it is running fine, and no check engine lights are on. Can someone, in layman's terms, make any sort of head or tales of all of this information? I just don;t seem to be getting how all of this in related. Is this car doomed to die very soon? Can it survive the winter? Is it worth getting fixed?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Canadafix replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome to Just Answer.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help you with your heater.

Looking at your question I think that you are wise to get a second opinion.
It appears the mechanic really doesn't know for sure about the head gasket either.

The best way to confirm head gasket failure is to do a "block test".
This procedure is done with the use of a solution in a tool that connects to the coolant reservoir or radiator neck. If the head gasket is leaking compression into the cooling system it creates bubbles. These bubbles will turn the solution from a blue to a yellow color. If the solution remains blue, all is OK.

If your Taurus is not pushing coolant out of the overflow, running well and not overheating I doubt you have a head gasket issue.

I have had good success in flushing out heater cores.
I remove the two hoses that hook up to the core and hook up two lengths of heater hose to allow me to add some cleaning acid. A product such as CLR should do it.
Wear goggles and protective clothing.
I let it sit for a few minutes and then flush it out thoroughly with water. Then I blow it out with compressed air.
It may take a couple applications depending on how badly it is plugged.

If you do not want to undertake a job such as this I would suggest a good local radiator shop. They should be able to help with it.

Your questions or comments are welcome.
Thank you.
Canadafix and 3 other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
One other question, if I may ... is the cap on the coolant recovery tank the same as the radiator cap for the purposes of doing a block test?
Expert:  Canadafix replied 5 years ago.

Yes you may

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On your Taurus it will have a reservoir tank with a pressure cap. That is where the block test would be taken.

Thank you.