If you have a knock or clicking noise behind the radio, it is the blend motor. The blend door is spring loaded and the gears in the blend motor are "stripped". The door is spring loaded so that the door is closed to the heater core. About 2 hours to replace and a lot of bending and stretching. You don't have to remove the dash, but all of the trim, radio, and controls will need to come out.
For the heater blowing cold air it could be the air dam not working, heating system may be plugged, thermostat sticking and not operating like it should. Do the easy things first, then get to the heater core and air dam if necessary cause to look at these items you would have to take the whole dash assembly apart. As for the van running rough and the smell of coolant coming out of the exhaust, that is a classic sign that the head gasket may be going, ford windstar are long known for their headgaskets blowing.
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Re: 1999 Ford Windstar 3.8 no heat
You have a heater blend door problem, this is the door that diverts air either to the heater core or the AC evaporator to provide either hot, cold or a mixture of the two, it blends the air, if it fails you can't control the heater or the AC temp depending on which way it fails. In your case it failed with the heater core closed to the air being blown through the system.
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Nothing in or around the heater core could make a noise. The core is just a small radiator with coolant circulating through it. And if you feel both heater hoses, and both are hot on a warmed up engine, then coolant is circulating through the core and the heat should be working. There must be a door in the heater case that is not letting heat come out.
The noise may be from the blower motor and its plastic fan assembly. It should be pretty easy to take out the blower motor and check for any obstruction.
if u can smell coolant burning when you try to turn on the heat, it would be the heater core. i would first check the coolant level and change the thermostat. if coolant is full and clean with a new thermostat u have a bad heater core
As a mechanic i am leaning towards a bad heater core. The core translates the heat from the cooling system into hot air for the cabin. Often times if the core is bad it leaks. check under the carpet, be keen on the smell of the antifreez and keep an eye out for foggy windows. Good luck and i hope i was able to shed some light on the situation.
the thermostat is in the thermostat housing. that is the end part of the upper radiator hose, where it connects to the engine. assuming the car is otherwise running OK it is not your problem, replacing it is a waste of your time. most likely the heater core is shot, that is where you should be looking. it sits within the heater box which is most likely behind the dash under the glove box, over the passenger footwell.
Hi yu heater smelling sweet is not a good thing. There is an engine coolant leak probably in the heater core and the smell your noticing is aspirated ainti-freeze. Check your engine coolant. It should be slowly lowering. The only fix is to have the heater core replaced. You can for the moment bypass the heater core by looing the hoses together with a nipple on the engine side of the firewall but you will have no heat or heated defrosting abilities until you replace the heater core.
1. coolant leak (level too low to fill heater core)
2. headgasket leak forcing the coolant out of the overflow.
3. stuck thermostat.
4. bad water pump. if the impelers are broken, coolant wont flow.
5. HVAC malfunction. system may think you selected cold or is unable to move diverter. maybe a fuse,solenoid or vaccum leak? (hvac controler uses vaccume controled soleniods)
6. airlock. if you have resently changed your coolant, you may need to repeatedly squeeze the heater core hose to help force out the air.
Check the coolant level. If it's low, what you describe will happen. There is not sufficient coolant to flow through the heater core at idle. At 60mph the water pump is spinning quickly, managing to get some coolant through the heater core, so you get heat until the rpm's drop at idle. If it is due to low level, keep an eye on it to see if it drops again, as you may have a leak.
The heater in your car depends upon a flow of hot coolant going through the heater core in order to get hot air into the car. If the heater core is partially plugged, it will restrict the flow. If you have a head gasket that is putting exhaust into the cooling system, it will eventually get into the heater core. When this happens there is no coolant in the heater core to make the air warm. If the water pump vanes have corroded away the result will be very poor coolant circulation causing the heater to not blow hot air. If your car is equipped with a heater control valve that is not functioning properly, the coolant flow will be restricted. One or a combination of these factors is likely the culprit in your case. Flush the heater core 2-3 times, and if the obstruction does not clear, a new heater core is required.