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The Ford Capri Laser Page

Heater Motor Removal and Replacement

Replacing the heater motor in your Capri is not a particularly fun experience but the job is not actually as difficult as some people say. It is just fiddly and time consuming, as you have to dismantle a large section of your dashboard to get to it. I would allow four to five hours to complete the job.

Before you start you will need to obtain a new heater motor, which was manufactured by Bosch. These are still available from a Capri spares supplier and cost around £50 + VAT or alternatively you could go for a second hand unit from a Capri specialist. Personally I think the job is too much of a pain to risk putting a second hand motor in that may start squealing immediately. You will also need some antifreeze to top up the cooling system afterwards.

First job is to detach the heater water pipes from inside the engine bay. The two water pipes are connected to the heater on the back of the bulkhead near to the exhaust manifold. You should undo the two hose clips as far as they will go and pull the water pipes off. Raise them up and fix them in place so that no more coolant pours out.  There is a plastic cover and foam gasket around the pipe fittings that needs to be unscrewed and carefully removed from the car. That is the work completed inside the engine bay; now the fun starts….

Inside the car you need to start dismantling the entire dashboard. First remove the cowlings that go around the top and bottom of the steering wheel and store in a safe place. Next job is to remove both lower dashboard panels by undoing all the self-tapping screws until the whole thing drops down. You will find that the cigar lighter connector must be pulled off to allow the panel to come out. The panel to the right of the steering wheel can just be dropped downwards or completely removed (by disconnecting the speaker fader and the hazard warning light switch).  My dashboard removal was made more complicated by the presence of a graphic equaliser below the ashtray and an aftermarket fog light switch. Again these were disconnected and care was taken to note which connector went where.

With these panels removed you should next remove the glove box from the passenger side. This is done by undoing the two 10mm nuts located at the bottom (usually hidden by the carpet) and unscrewing the three large posi-drive screws from the inner top lip. Make sure you rescue all the washers. The glove box will drop downwards and you can reach behind and disconnect the light (there is usually a bullet connector on the wire somewhere nearby). The glove box will then lift out of the car.

You should now be able to see the heater unit, which is sitting directly behind the clock. However before trying to remove the unit you must first remove the heater slider control and this is not that straightforward. To get to this you need to first remove the instrument cover. Pull off the dashboard dimmer knob and (original Ford radio only) remove the knobs from the radio. The two nuts on the radio spindles should be removed allowing the plastic radio cover to be lifted off. Next remove the four switches (fog light, rear washer, rear wiper, rear heater) by putting your fingers up behind them and pushing them forward. They should pop out of their slots quite easily and you can pull off each power lead in turn. Bunch these leads together noting that each is different and impossible to get mixed up.

Now you can remove the instrument cover by undoing the three self-tapping screws along the bottom edge. The top of the cover has three horrible spring clips, which can badly scratch the trim if you are not careful. Carefully prise the cover forward and you should be able to release each spring clip with a flat bladed screwdriver. CCI recommend that you remove and throw them away but I find that this encourages your dashboard to squeak. With care and patience you can get this cover out with the spring clips in place and without damaging anything.

With the dash cover removed you will now have free access to the heater slider panel, which is located in place with two large posi-drive screws. Undo these and push the unit back into the dash. Note that the power connector to the heater switch must be disconnected and pushed out of harms reach. With a bit of jiggling about you can get it down and out of its housing and dangling near the floor. Note that it is still connected to the heater unit. Do not attempt to undo the cables, as this will cause you all sorts of problems later.

If you put your hand on the top of the heater unit you will find the electrical connections. Make a note of the

colours and their positions, as it is possible to refit them incorrectly. Disconnect these and push them out of the way. The corrugated vent pipes can be pulled off the heater unit quite easily and I recommend that you remove the short one on the left hand side completely. The unit itself is bolted up to the bulkhead in four places using 10mm screws. You need a decent socket with a nice long stem to reach these. The ones on the right hand side are quite awkward to reach but it is possible to carefully undo them making sure not to loose the washers.

Just in front of the heater unit is a black metal bar that hangs down and has an electrical relay attached to it. I recommend undoing the bar and moving it out of the way. It is fixed to the dashboard with a single self-tapping screw.

You are now ready to try and remove the heater unit. The aim is to slide it out to the left and into the passenger foot well. Place an old towel in the foot well to catch any fluid from the heater matrix. Watch out for the wire that goes to the clock – this usually needs carefully lifting free and placing at the back. By jiggling the heater unit about you should eventually be able to lift if out. With a gently tug it will just pull forward and up over the clock housing. This will allow you to move it leftwards and out.

Take the unit out of the car and tip it upside down to allow the coolant to drain out. The unit is now ready to dismantle. Make sure you rescue the sponge gasket from around the inlet port. This may be damaged and should be stuck back into place prior to refitting.

Getting to the motor is not exactly a five-minute job either. You will see that the heater case is in two halves that will separate. First you need to prise off the two metal spring clips that re located at the back of the motor and lock the two plastic halves together. With these removed you should gently try to prise the two halves apart. I only managed this by breaking a couple of the plastic fittings (I glued them later). When the two shells come apart you will find the motor and fan will lift out (first disconnect the two wire / spade fittings noting their orientation). The old motor will have a white plastic skirt fitted that should be removed and transferred onto the new one.

Next big headache is removing the fan blades from the spindle of the old motor and transferring them to the new one. It is only a push fit but mine wouldn’t budge. I rested the blades in-between a partially opened vice and used a hammer and punch to gently tap the shaft downwards and out. With this removed you can simply push the blades onto the shaft of the new motor making sure that they push on as far as possible.

Reassembling the heater unit is not very straightforward. You will see that the air flaps and heater matrix are all free to move about as you try to reassemble. Each flap has to be correctly located in a small plastic bearing. These actually push out and I found it easier to transfer them onto the ends of the flap first. The motor and fan sit in the unit quite nicely (make sure you have fitted the old plastic skirt from the other motor) and should spin freely. Watch out for the resister that gives the fan the two speed settings. This needs to be slotted in place before reassembly. Bring the two halves carefully together and use a small screwdriver to guide the air flaps into place. Before snapping the two halves tightly together check that the flaps move correctly using the slider controls. Then heave the two halves together snapping them in place. The two spring clips need to be refitted. These are quite strong and are quite tricky to refit unless you have a very small pair of long-nose pliers that can open them up as you push.  I had to use two large cable ties to hold the motor housing tightly back together which seemed to work well, and I also put a few blobs of araldite on my housing to repair the clips I broke during dismantling (the plastic has gone very brittle over the years).

Don’t refit the unit until you have tested it working. I did this by placing it as close as possible to the dash and reconnecting the power wires to the top of the unit. You also have to reconnect the power lead to the slider panel as well. Turn on the ignition and try the heater on full power. Hopefully you will get a nice blast of fresh air. Check the motor works on both speed settings.

Refit the unit under the dash by first relocating the slider panel in its housing. The four fixing bolts should be refitted (try some grease on them to stop the washer falling off). The vent hoses should be refitted with a firm push. Refit the top dash cover making sure that the slider controls still work (there is some free play in the fittings to allow you to realign it). Take extra care with the spring clips, which need working into place slowly with a screwdriver. Refit the four switches and reconnect the wires to them. Refit the nuts and dials to the Ford radio and replace the dimmer knob. Next refit the glove box making sure not to forget to reconnect the lamp and contact switch. All that remains is to refit the metal bar that sits in front of the heater unit and refit the lower dash plastic remembering to reconnect the electrics to the cigar lighter.

That should be everything completed on the inside. All that remains is to refit the plastic seal to the bulkhead inside the engine bay and finally refit the two hoses to the heater matrix pipes. Start the car and top up the radiator with 50% water/antifreeze mixture using the radiator cap and not the expansion tank. In the unlikely event that there is air trapped in the heater matrix you should remove the air filter and disconnect the water hose at its topmost point. Allow any trapped air to free itself before refitting.This really is a time consuming job but well worth the effort. My new motor has no squeaks and works faster and more quietly than before. Just take your time and make sure that you label all the wires you disconnect. Make sure you have a safe place to put all the screws and bolts and note carefully which ones came from where. It is a good idea to take some digital pictures as you do it just in case you lose your way or forget where things go. Good Luck !


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