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cc61 on Sat October 08, 2011 8:45 AM User is offline

Year: !997 up
Make: ford
Model: F150
Engine Size: 4.6, 5.4
Country of Origin: United States

This is a general question and i know this is not really A/C but what is all the other techs doing to combat repeat comebacks for the f series and expeditions Heater cores?? we have tried alot of different stuff in the past 5 years.... the only thing that we have done that hasn't come back is used a modified late 80's taurus heater (copper and brass) that seems to be the best fix we have found... does anyone know of a copper and brass drop in replacement for these?? I have searched over the Internet numerous times and not found anything... I know someone had built them a few years back(copper and brass)... I have pulled a few of those out and recored them (looked like they had been in for over 4 or 5 years..) Like i Said copper and Brass has been the best fix we have found any other ideas?? thanks! Charlie .... ps you can contact me at

Edited: Sat October 08, 2011 at 8:46 AM by cc61

HECAT on Mon October 10, 2011 10:57 AM User is offline

I do not know about the copper and brass components you seek, but...

Ford has issued TSB's covering over 200 models regarding the high flow rate, lack of restrictors, and presence of abrasive particulates to be the primary cause of repeat core failure. The mixing and straying away from the OE prescribed antifreeze can cause chemical reactions, corrosion, and the development of iron and aluminum oxides (which are also used as blasting media). electrolysis can occur, but many times it is actually being produced by the previously mentioned issues that are the ultimate root cause.

The fluid exchange machine will often allow these weighted particulates to just drop out and wait for the fresh fill. No doubt this type of equipment does a good job of fluid exchange, but the overmarketing of this "so called" flushing process has somehow convinced many professional technicians that they are indeed flushing & cleaning. Traditional flush and fill, drain and fill, and garden hose flushing will also do little to properly address and remove the materials associated with this corrosion/erosion phenomenon.

That is what this tool is for


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cc61 on Mon October 10, 2011 2:34 PM User is offline

we are currently using a home built flush gun.... (similar to a zoo gun) uses water and air...we flusch every ford that we put heaters in.... maybe we need to go back to putting in restrictors...

HECAT on Mon October 10, 2011 3:44 PM User is offline

Sounds like you understand, and are putting the "extra" effort required with your flush gun. If the failures are occurring at or near the ports and or bends, then this is a sign of erosion and I would definitely look at installing the OE flow restrictors. If it is occurring within the body of the component (rare but happens), this would be electrolysis or a poor quality part. Might want to look at the OE replacement part as it may have been updated to be a little more robust given the issue is so common (just a thought, no evidence).


HECAT: You support the Forum when you consider for your a/c parts.


chris142 on Mon October 10, 2011 10:14 PM User is offline

You need a Sacraficial Annode. Zinc is the preferred metal when dealing with Aluminum Radiators and heaters. We get ours from a local boat shop. Just cut a chunk off and drop it in the plastic coolant bottle on that Ford.

I can't prove this but I think that Ford puts a bar of Zinc in their cooling system and over time it gets depleated then the heaters and radiators get eaten up.

cc61 on Wed October 12, 2011 7:49 AM User is offline

Thanks Chris... I am on that right now called up one of my friends that works on Boats... He is gonna get me some Zinc... He said some of the out drives have a zinc ball about the size of a golf ball in them... how much of a golf ball size piece of zinc do u recommend we try?? thanks, Charlie...

chris142 on Wed October 12, 2011 11:32 PM User is offline

Doesn't need to be too big. Of course the bigger the piece the longer it will last. The size of a Hershy's kiss is plenty.

I actully saw a piece of Zinc today. Ford is mounting it on the transmission cooler inside the Radiator tank.

HECAT on Thu October 13, 2011 8:22 AM User is offline

Magnesium may be a better SA to use in a fresh water cooling system. However the installation of the SA will not stop the galvanic corrosion (electrolysis); it just provides additional sacrificial material to corrode and contribute to the erosive material buildup.


HECAT: You support the Forum when you consider for your a/c parts.


NickD on Thu October 13, 2011 9:26 AM User is offline

Electrolysis in theory at least is the molecular transfer of molecules from one substance to another. Key ingredients are an electrolyte and two dissimilar conductive materials to both generate the excitation voltage, and to physically move molecules from one substance to the other. So how does this work in a heater core? But a very common problem in electrical where that main rule of not using dissimilar conductive materials is never followed.

Also on a boating site with this problem, unbelievable the myths going on, in particular with an aluminum outdrive sitting a long season in a salt water marina. Added to the this problem is the used of cast iron automotive engine blocks with seawater cooling. This is not electrolysis, don't even bother arguing with these idiots, think some sort of catalysis like zinc or magnesium is going to cure it. Just get the damned thing out of the environmental or use all stainless steel in the manufacturer. Function of these catalysis is to bypass that so called electrolysis, bypass what?

A good materials engineer will tell you, can spend millions of dollars on automated production material, but if your base material is sh!t, even with all that processing, you still end up with a big pile of sh!t. Forgive my frankness on the subject. Even the SAE was pushing on this subject, the grade of aluminum used in throw away aluminum cans is far superior to what the automotive industry is using. Maybe we should look into this, maybe not is more like it, have to keep those stockholders happy is key.

But the grade of material is only one factor, other is the thickness, a hell of a lot cheaper to produce a product using thinner materials. View that Ford TSB as BS, trying to cover their butts about blaming abrasive substances. Similar to our government, always find something else to blame. When the bottom line is that this call of heater cores is one big fat pile of sh!t.

Finding a decent replacement for these cores is the only key solution and also the major problem. Another solution is to only buy vehicles that do not have this problem, but this also comes with a price. Will get other problems. May be good for the repair industry, but not good for the consumer. So whether this is even a problem or not, depends on which side of the fence you are on.

HECAT on Thu October 13, 2011 1:40 PM User is offline

Here is a good article on corrosion-erosion. Not saying that I do not agree that a lot of the issues are due to poor quality parts.


HECAT: You support the Forum when you consider for your a/c parts.


NickD on Fri October 14, 2011 5:38 AM User is offline

Sounds like a good song title, Erosion-Corrosion! Your breaking my bank account... But not on electrolysis. Can go along for Erosion-Corrosion versus performance if only interest is short term performance. But performance may suffer a tad if you have a large hole in that component.

Did bid on an old home that was built by Sinclair Lewis, the author that used now 85 year old heavy cast iron radiators in a hot water heating system. Had those analyzed, still in great shape, but that old fashion converted gas from coal boiler had to go. Owner accepted my bid, but changed his mind, was disappointed. But they sure don't build these things like they use to.

With automotive, only talking about adding a couple of mils of more thickness. Hardly affects performance, but sure affects reliability. And in automotive, its a penny here and a penny there to make those stockholders happy. Those pennies add up quick.

cc61 on Mon October 17, 2011 7:39 AM User is offline

There is something to what you all are saying... I dont know exact numbers but i do know that I may have replaced 1 or 2 of these heaters with the 4.2 engine..... the rest are 4.6 and 5.4's, in a span of 6 or 7 years i would say we had done more than 50... just a thought...

Edited: Mon October 17, 2011 at 7:41 AM by cc61

NickD on Tue October 18, 2011 6:30 AM User is offline

The power of the major corporations, call it a conspiracy theory if you want, but cannot argue facts. In terms of reliability and well known engineering methods, the life of each component can be designed and tested. In theory at least all of the 20,000 some odd components should have the same life span, but those in the repair business, knows this is not the case. With consistent failures of the same components, this generates a need for aftermarket components. And many of these components can be improved at a much lower cost by reusing the cores.

Was over a 15 year battle that APRA, the Automotive Parts Rebuilders Association had with the IRS, IRS was valuing these junk cores at the retail value and that inventory because part of the profit. APRA finally won this battle in a court of law, but over 5,000 independent rebuilders went out of business. in the process. Other component manufactures were given hell by the EPA.

Here is one example, EPA banned trichlorethylene in the manufacturing process in the late 70's, but yet they gave DuPont permission to use it in the manufacture of R-134a, you try to use it.

The EPA created OBD II specification permitted majors to use firmware in flashram, but that firmware was only available from dealers. A supreme court decision in around 2002 made this firmware available to independent shops, but the cost is outrageous.

Before all this stuff started, if an OE component had a high failure rate, would open a huge business for the aftermarket. But with the government, this is rapidly becoming history.

So am I paranoid or just telling it the way it is. Was a publication called Automotive Rebuilder, that died in about 1999. But strange, a lot of this crap now is coming in from China.

NickD on Tue October 18, 2011 7:07 AM User is offline

Here is a light duty copper and brass from

35 bucks, whether its any better or not, a good question.

Can tell you our shops around here sure appreciated when our state mandated adding ethanol to fuel, is darn good for their fuel pump replacement business. Guess it depends which side of the fence you are on.

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