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Q: Is my heater core bad or condenser?

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I originally thought the heater core was bad because the passenger side floor board stays soaked in liquid. I don't smell coolant though and the engines not running hot...i was told the condenser was bad because at times driving the ac will go hot until i get off the gas or out a turn then it'll go back cold. That problem just began, but the floor board been wet for at least two months. Yesterday it rained real hard, but while driving i could of sworn i saw steam like smoke coming from under the hood but the truck temperature never indicated it was running hot. It seems to work properly.

My car has 110000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hi there, thanks for writing in about your ...

Hi there, thanks for writing in about your 2008 Ford Escape. The first thing you need to do is to check your coolant level when your truck is cold. Do this by removing the radiator cap. The radiator cap on your car is part of the expansion tank. If it is low, the coolant leak should be found and repaired. When your checking the coolant level, take note of the condition of the coolant. It should be clean and the color should be bright. Ford coolant is often yellow, but it may have already had the coolant replaced at one time and it could be green. The main thing is it should be clean.

Taking note of the coolant condition, color, and clarity is important in determining if the wet carpet is from coolant or water. Coolant will be oily to the touch. It will be slick between your fingers. Water will be clear and not oily. I don’t recommend trying this, unless the coolant looks like mostly water, but coolant tastes sweet. Of course it is toxic, but a small taste will not hurt you. Again, I only recommend this if you are unable to absolutely determine if it is water or coolant on the floor.

If it is coolant, then yes, your heater core is leaking. If it is water, then there are three things that could be happening. It is very common for the evaporator drain to clog and for water to fill up the evaporator case and eventually leak onto the floor. The drain is inconveniently located on the fire wall. just to the passenger side of the center of the vehicle, under the hood. There will be a black rubber elbow hanging off of it. This elbow can be removed if necessary. It usually takes a wire of some sort to dig out whatever debris is clogging it. Sometimes, if your lucky, you can access it from under the passenger side dash.

If the drain is clear, it could be a water leak from rain. These are notoriously difficult to locate. In the past, I have set a sprinkler on top of the car to find a water leak from rain.

The third possibility is the evaporator could be holding water. This is usually because the water that would normally drip off of it is freezing to it externally. If this is occurring, there is something wrong with the A/C system and it will need to be diagnosed by a technician.

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