FEOA Forums banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

Premium Member
1,566 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A/C Evaporator coil Replacement On Generation Three Ford Escort : Heater Core Replacement, Dash Removal & Radio/Climate Control Pod Removal Instructions

The following instructions are for a Third Generation 2000 Ford Escort SE 4-Door.
The procedure is similar for repairing a leaking evaporator coil or for the heater core job. But the procedure is significantly different from what is required for the generation two Escorts.

For more detailed heater core replacement info look at this how-to by starkonian. http://www.feoa.net/modules.php?name=Fo ... ic&t=76716
But you need to follow my how-to about the dash removal to get at the heater core.

At first it looked like it would be possible to get the coil out from under the dash just by removing the bottom of the case. Because the evaporator coil case is heat welded together it would be very difficult to get it apart without taking the assembly out from behind the dash. Another How-To's on the subject said no need to remove the dash to get the box out. The Ford Escort 2000 workshop manual said you MUST remove the dash (instrument panel). I suspect one could remove the evaporator & blower box without dash removal but the results would not be pretty.

FIRST: Before you start the evaporator coil job you should make certain the evaporator coil is leaking. Most of the time leaks are in the condenser out in front of the radiator, because it takes hits from road debris and rocks. The best way to test is with an electronic leak sniffer. Because the R134a is a heavier than air gas it will sink to the bottom of the evaporator case. To test place the sniffer head at the end of the condensation drain tube. On the Generation Three Escorts the drain tube is very short, you will be unable to see it from under the car. It exits the firewall behind the AC dryer/accumulator tank. See photo 2.

Step by step instructions, were put together with aid of the notes I made as the job proceeded. Please add corrections or better instructions as you see fit.

1. Make safe the SRS (airbag) in the dash and steering wheel. Remove the negative battery cable 1/2 hour before working on the dash removal job.


2. Discharge the A/C system. This is required for evaporator coil replacement job but is not needed for heater core replacement. For heater core replacement skip steps 2-4.
3. Working inside the engine compartment disconnect the evaporator coil Freon lines and a vacuum line.


A. Remove the window washer fluid tank first to gain better access to the AC connections. To remove tank, remove two 10mm head bolts and one 10mm nut. An electric connector bracket must be removed, use a 10mm socket to remove the bracket bolt, in front of the washer fluid tank so it can be pulled off the stud on firewall.
B. The AC dryer/accumulator tank clamp band will need to be removed first, use a 10mm socket.
C. Remove the lock clips that hold the two evaporator coil connections to the ac hoses.
D. Then use an A/C quick disconnect tool to aid in removing the quick connect A/C lines. http://www.jeepair.com/info/how-to-use- ... ols-57.php Cover end of hoses with tape or plastic caps to help prevent dirt and moisture from entering the system.
4. Remove the vacuum tube connection between the two evaporator high and low connections on the engine side of the firewall.
5. Heater core replacement: Note, no need to disconnect the AC evaporator coil if you are doing only the heater core job.
Steps A, B and C only needed if replacing the heater core.
A. Drain coolant.
B. Disconnect the two heater core hoses in the engine compartment on the center of the firewall.
C. Blow out core with compressed air to clear it of coolant or just plug the open tubes.

Dash removal prep:
6. No need to remove the glove box door on third generation cars.
7. Remove center console:
A. Remove plastic retaining plugs on each side of front of console use a very small screwdriver to lift the center plug.


B. Move front seats all the way forward and remove two back screws on the back part of the console.


Note: tape screws to panels or after panel is removed replace screws in holes a few turns by hand for quick reassembly.
C. Lift up the front end of the rear part of console and remove two screws that hold down the front part of console, rear of shifter.


D. Before you can remove the front part of the console the gear shifter must be moved from out of park position, if your car is an automatic. Note: If the battery is disconnected you will need to use the emergency access port in the top of the console. Remove a small cover plug and insert a small screwdriver or ink pen into the hold to release the shift lever out of park. With the shift lever out of the way the console can be removed.


8. Next remove the black plastic storage compartment (the former ashtray) that is below the heater and radio. It has the cigar lighter (power port) in it. You must unplug a ground wire and the power wire from the back side.



9. Remove the hood latch handle (17 mm nut in back), the nut doesn't need to be removed completely to remove the panel, the hole is slotted. Also the yellow trunk release switch wire connector will need to be disconnected, (if your car has one) from the dash on the left side of steering wheel. Note: the switch connector can be removed after the panel is loose so you are not working in the blind under the dash.


10. Next you need to remove the lower dash panel below the steering column. Remove one screw from the lower right side of the panel. The panel has 4 retainer clips on the back side. The panel should pop off easily.



11. Remove three screws holding lower clamshell cover around steering wheel shaft. Use #2PH driver. Two longer screws to in front, single machine screw in the back toward the dash.


12. Disconnect the climate air control cable from left side of heater box under driver side of dash. Caution: take care not to break the white plastic retainer clip on this cable.
The vacuum lines and electrical connectors on the back of the radio & climate control assembly will also need to be disconnected. I removed the radio & climate control pod to get to the connectors. See radio & climate control pod removal instructions at the end of this instruction set.
Possible shortcut: After the dash is tilted part way forward in step 22 you should be able to reach the vacuum lines and electrical connectors on the back of the radio & climate control assembly, but take care not to stretch the lines too much.






13. Remove right and left lower console trim panels by popping out one black plastic plug retainer on each panel.


14. Remove two steering wheel bolts, 12mm heads. Lower steering wheel reassembly to floor, first move seat all the way back.





NOTE: The instrument panel removal is not needed to remove the dash on third generation cars. Skip steps 15 and 16. If you want to replace any lamps in the instrument panel this is how you get to them.

15. Remove instrument panel. Caution: The plastic Ford used to make the bezel is very brittle and will crack very easily. Remove two lower screws on instrument bezel. Remove three upper screws. All take a T-20 driver. Note: When replacing the screws take care and do not over tighten the center top screw, you could break the plastic around the screw hole!
Caution #2: Take extra care removing interment bezel as the plastic is very very brittle! You will need to pop loose 5 hidden clips. Start with the two clips at right side next to the passenger side air bag (SRS), then two more clips just to the right side of the instrument opening and one on the left top side.


Edit note: Use a set of trim removal tools, not a screwdriver. Harbor Freight should have them at a low cost.
http://www.harborfreight.com/5-piece-au ... 67021.html

15A. Take out two lower and two upper screws that hold the instrument cluster. Dark headed screws take t-20 driver, don't remove the small screws that hold the clear lens on the assembly.
16. On third generation cars. Remove instrument panel assembly, tilt top forward and remove three electrical plugs.


17. Remove bolt that holds in the ECU electrical plug, 10mm head. The ECU box is mounted on bottom center of dash frame in front of shifter. Remove plug.


18. Remove white plastic bracket that holds the ECU wiring loom, no release plugs just wedge out with screwdriver blade along each latch.



19. Disconnect the white plug that is along with the ECU wire loom near the firewall.


20. Dash removal starts:

21. Caution: The plastic Ford used to make the defroster vent trim strip is very brittle and will crack very easily.
A. To start, carefully remove the small center cover plate in the defroster vent trim strip, don't remove the complete defroster trim strip. It could break into several pieces!
Then remove one 10mm head bolt under the cover.


B. Next loosen the four lower dash frame bolts, 12mm heads, two on each side just in from of the shifter, below the ECU box. Note: the bolts closest to the shifter will serve as a hinge to tilt the dash reassembly forward, they are in a slotted hole. Completely remove the two forward bolts.


C. Remove the left and right cover plates at each end of the dash. Then remove the TWO bolts with 10mm heads on right end of dash by the front door then remove the last two bolts on the left end of the dash by the front door.



22. Caution: At this point a helper may be required to hold the dash assembly until all the connections can be removed.
A. Tilt the dash back a little to gain access behind it.
B. Then disconnect three plugs on the back of the dash on driver's side, a white, blue and black plug.
C. Also disconnect the Green plug over top of the main fuse connection box.
D. The vacuum lines and electrical connectors on the back of the radio & climate control assembly will also need to be disconnected. You should be able to reach up around the back side of the pod after the dash is tilted part way forward. Caution: Take care not to stretch the lines too much. See photos 14 &15 above of the plugs. If unable to reach plugs then remove the radio & climate control pod.
See radio & climate control pod removal instructions at end of this instruction set.






D. On the passenger side unplug the airbag plug.


E. Use a towel or some foam to pad the shifter and to protect the radio & heater controls. Now hinge the dash assembly all the way over onto the shifter.


23. Unplug the radio antenna cable connector. Unplug the white plug from back of the heater control assembly. Note you should be able to reach up under the radio and gain access to the heater control connectors and vacuum plug.


24. At this point all connections should be loose from the dash assembly.
It can be left in this position or can be removed for better access to the heater core or the evaporator coil.



I didn't do the heater core job, so no instructions on removing the heater core case. It did look like metal clips hold the case together. Note: It would best to remove the ECU before working on the heater core removal.


Evaporator core housing removal:
25. After dash assembly is removed, remove a vacuum line connector from the evaporator case. Note: You must press two white clips at the same time to release the connection. Take care not to break the rubber loops on the connector when they are removed from the white retainer clips.


26. Disconnect a connector with the blue/w wire from right side of evaporator case.


27. Remove the right defroster duct, remove a black plug retainer from bottom of duct then remove a screw at the top. Then remove a screw to free the vacuum pot that is behind this same duct.




28. Remove 4 nuts, 10mm deep socket, that hold the evaporator assembly to the firewall. Also loosen a bolt that holds a band around the connection to the heater core case. Slide the band back so you can part the two cases and remove the evaporator coil housing case.





Evaporator coil removal from case:
Now the fun starts. If you are not replacing the complete evaporator core & housing as an unit you will need to cut apart the plastic case to get the old coil out. The two parts of the case look like they could be parted by only the release of clips but they are heat welded at the center flange.
I used a sheetrock knife, to cut the joint. I broke off the blade tip several times, have extra blades. I only cut back to the point the evaporator core chamber ends and the blower part starts. The plastic the case is made of is somewhat flexible, with force it can be warped apart to free the evaporator core. The new coil I got did not come with the black plastic clamp supports for the inlet and outlet tubes. I removed the supports off the old coil and installed on the new one. Take care when installing the plastic clips not to damage the new coil.
To reassemble the case I used silicon super gasket maker to seal the joint and 4-40 screws and nuts to fasten the case together.



Photo51 & 51A







Installation notes, are not compete step-by-step instructions. Use reverse order from above instructions.

Before installing the evaporator coil assembly, put in 3 oz. of A/C oil for use with R134a. Put oil in the evaporator coil tube that connects to the dryer tank, tilt unit around so the oil runs back into the coil.


Install coil and fan box assembly, replace the right dash duct, install the plastic plug retainer and screw at top. When installing the dash run the radio antenna wire in a opening on right side of center frame to reach back of the radio.
Don't forget to connect the heater control cable and vacuum tubes.
Use new O-rings on the A/C lines that connect to the evaporator coil, lubricate with R134a A/C refrigerant oil before hooking up the lines.
Connect vacuum line to hose on engine side of fire wall.



After everything is all back in place the A/C system needs to be recharged.
Use vacuum pump to evacuate the A/C system. It will take some time to fully pull a good vacuum because R134a is dissolved in the oil.

Edit note: If unable to keep a good solid vacuum after the pump is removed, check the system for leaks. The chance that the new evaporator coil is defective is very low. It is inspected and tested completely at the factory. The one I received was packaged very well, very little chance of damage in transit.
The high side port is often the source of a leak, also check the low side port. Don't be tricked by UV dye residue on a port from when the dye was installed. Sometimes an Electronic Stethoscope is useful finding a port leak. Replacing both the high and low valve cores is best. Next check the 0-ring / connections points, also check all over the condenser. Then if the system can't hold a good vacuum start thinking about a shaft seal leak on the compressor. That will be hard to find, it is very hard to see up around the compressor shaft area with UV light. The gas sniffer machine sometimes will not not find a very small leak up in that area. Most likely the compressor pulley and clutch will need to be removed to detect the shaft seal leak. The shaft seal can be replaced without the cost of replacing the complete compressor assembly.

LAST step: Charge the system with R134a, 27.87 oz.


Radio / Climate Control Pod removal instructions

Removal of the radio climate control pod may not be needed to remove the dash, but here are the instructions.

1. Go to the bottom side of the driver's area under the dash and look to your right. You should see a round gear looking cable. This cable controls the Hot/Cold air selection. Just push the white clip and it should separate from the shaft. Take care not to break the shaft or clip.

Photo R0

2. Use a removal tool or a heavy gauge coat hanger to release the clips on each side of the control pod. Insert tool pushing a little to the side. You will hear a click when the clip releases.

Photo R1

Photo R2

3. Pull the pod out of dash.

Photo R3

Remove electrical, antenna and vacuum plugs on back of the control pod.
Photo R4

Photo R5

Photo R6

60 Posts
bent_rod~ This is a fabulous write up!

I need to replace the hater core and this gets me 90% through the job. If anyone has any details on getting into the heater core box for the 3rd gen sohc, or know where I can locate them, I'd appreciate it.

I didn't see you mention the speedomter cable needed to be removed from the tranny or the instrument cluster. Was that an omision or should it be removed?

This thread DESERVES a sticky and the title re-labled to include 3rd gen dash removal and heater core access IMO.

Good job bent_rod!

Premium Member
1,566 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
starkonian, Thanks

No steel cable on speed-O for the 3rd gen, they use electrical connections. As I stated at the start of the posting there are a lot of differences between the 2nd and 3rd gen. cars.
I didn't take my heater core box out but it didn't look like it was heat welded together, should be no problem replacing the core inside.

60 Posts
Hi Bentrod,

I'm getting some grumbling from the wife as the November nights turn cooler here in northern California and the 'scort has no working heater core. Time to get busy and get 'er done.

Regarding the step to remove the steering wheel shaft bolts, what are you doing in photo #18? Are you removing something to get at the 2nd bolt?


Premium Member
1,566 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
starkonian said:
Hi Bentrod,

I'm getting some grumbling from the wife as the November nights turn cooler here in northern California and the 'scort has no working heater core. Time to get busy and get 'er done.

Regarding the step to remove the steering wheel shaft bolts, what are you doing in photo #18? Are you removing something to get at the 2nd bolt?

I went back and looked at my notes I made when I was doing the job, I could't find anything about photo #18. It looks like I was removing a clip release on the white plastic wire chase/bracket so it could be moved out of the way. :D

Premium Member
1,566 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was holding a regular blade - screwdriver in photo #18. No special tools needed, only tools that most mechanics have in their tool sets, other than the coat hanger wire used to remove the radio assembly.

When I did this in 2010 I only used a regular screwdriver to remove the plastic trim, I now have a real set of trim removal tools that I recommend for anyone removing auto trim. The hardest part of the job was getting trim off without breaking it and cutting the evaporator case apart.
5 Piece Auto Trim and Molding Tool Set ITEM # 67021 http://www.harborfreight.com/5-piece-au ... 67021.html


60 Posts
Damn, $6...I need a set too. I destroyed the fasterners on HHR door panels using a screwdriver.

I'm still a little nervous about the heater box removal since Haynes is sketchy and can't find a good write up about that part but you removed the fears I had about the 1st 90% of the job. I'll try to do a mini photo write up of the heater box part and add it to yours and/or make a new thread.

Premium Member
438 Posts
this write up rocks and is worth a bump.
my few pointers would be (from after doing heater core replacement)
1. - is for the removal/install of the 10mm bolt that's on top of the dash near the windshield, there is no clearance for a ratchet and socket ( i have no idea how that picture looks like it can fit - which somehow does look like there is room; the window's angle with the dash is just too narrow)
during removal, i lifted up the defroster vent without breaking it and used a ratchet spanner, which i happen to have the almighty 10mm size.
during the install, i found my spanners which "dip" at the ends and hand tightened it as normal over the trim instead of under it.

2. to further clear up the final removal of the dash, the metal feet actually rotates on 2 rivet-like inserts, you can see them in the pictures above.
they do not rotate on the front set of 12mm bolts with the u slot as indicated above.
the rivets are long enough in the "installed" position to be blocked, but when you rotate the dash forward, there is an incline in the frame and a slot-like opening will be there so you can pull out the whole dash without the rivets being hooked on anything once the dash is tilted.
-rotate dash toward center of cabin
-pull and slide a little toward center of cabin along the floor
-now rivets are no longer blocked
-lift out dash

i actually found out the hard way, by "walking" out the dash.
in the heater core thread, it is mentioned that you can remove the rivets or that they would shimmy out. 4 attempts, with sparking head of screw driver, confirms for me this is not so. so i tilted and noticed driver side was at a slight angle out and i could lift it so i held that side down and tried to slide out the passenger side and it took a few attempts before the passenger side was free.

3rd gen dash removal - very do-able. it's only scary if you've read the instructions for the 2nd gen escorts first!
(and not that i'd want to do this ever again)

3. if you buy your heater core from OReillys, be sure to ignore the picture included. it's backwards in the picture as to which side the inlet goes.
BUT, this is assuming that the core itself is labeled correctly.
(i will also post this warning in the Heater Core section).

truly believe that this site is a life-saver for some.

2,018 Posts
Thank You for this! I just replaced the heater core in my '97 Tracer. My car had two minor differences:

To remove my ashtray, I discovered a little 7mm screw was holding it in on the drivers side, behind it. It was a small pain to get in there with limited clearance.

Also, my car had a wiring harness "umbilical cord" near the passenger door that was not able to be disconnected as far as I could find. I just shimmied the entire dash carefully onto the passenger seat and was very careful to not pull on it. You can see it in the right of the picture...

Tools I'm glad I had:
1: to get the top of dash 10mm and ashtray 7 mm screw out: http://www.harborfreight.com/8-piece-metric-offset-box-wrench-set-32042.html

2: a 19mm deep well socket to drain the radiator.

A Tool I WISH I had:

A long 90 degree needle nose plier to remove hose clamps on firewall under hood
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Hood Bumper Fender
Hood Vehicle Motor vehicle Car Automotive design

1 Posts
Hi! I have a question that doesn't really have anything to do with this. I read the part saying "D. Before you can remove the front part of the console the gear shifter must be moved from out of park position, if your car is an automatic. Note: If the battery is disconnected you will need to use the emergency access port in the top of the console. Remove a small cover plug and insert a small screwdriver or ink pen into the hold to release the shift lever out of park. With the shift lever out of the way the console can be removed."

Here is my question: I just got a for escort z2x from 2000. But there is already a screwdriver there! Sometimes the shift is stuck on park until I move it, sometimes it won't let me take the keys off until I move it.
Reading your post Im wondering what is supposed to be there instead of the screwdriver ? Does it have a purpose ?or should I just take it off?

Thank you, hope you can help me, I'm lost with cars.

Premium Member
1,566 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The reason for the screwdriver is because the shift locking solenoid is not working correctly. Sometimes it will not unlock the shifter. Cleaning with WD40 may help, other times a replacement part is needed. It is possible to have a bad electrical connection that would disable the solenoid. I think most of the time what happens is a softdrink spill gets into the mechanism or could be just dust that built up over time.

Premium Member
1,332 Posts
Hi All!! Haven't been too active here lately, but want to say thanks to bent_rod and Starkonian for their great 3rd gen dash and heater core removal threads. Just replaced the heater core in my '97 Tracer wagon. Leaking coolant fouled the airbag module, so it had to be replaced too.
I'm still running a '97 wagon, a '97 sedan, and a '93 wagon. Hard to beat 'em!!
1 - 14 of 14 Posts