I actually replaced the side cover on my rusty trusty '88 Grand Caravan many years ago because it rusted out and started leaking. That cover cost $3.50 and was real easy to replace. Of course, everything on that old van is easy to work on.
Here's a trick that will work but consider it a temporary fix. Wash any trace of transmission fluid and loose paint from the area of the hole with brake parts cleaner. Use the gray gasket sealer from the Chrysler dealer, (not the black stuff), to make a bead around the hole, then work your way around inside that bead building it up until the hole is totally covered. Let it cure overnight.
I did that trick many years ago after my mother hit a large chunk of steel that was laying in the middle of the highway. It tore off the rear heater hoses and punched a 3" by 4" hole in the front of the gas tank. I sanded around the hole, washed the area, then covered it with the gray sealer. Since the coolant had leaked out from the heater hoses, I "leap-frogged" that van and my car home that way. That gave the van time to cool down each time I ran back to get my car. I was able to drive the van about two miles at a stretch before it started to overheat. Later, at home, I saw how vulnerable that patch was so I covered it with a piece of thin sheet metal, then to prevent that from rusting, I coated it again with more sealer. That patch is still there today and I still drive that van every day.
The secret to this patch is you must use the gray stuff because it will bond and seal if there is a little oil residue. The black stuff will not bond through oil. The gray stuff gets harder too.
Before you patch it like that, check that the edges of the metal aren't pushed in and hitting on any of the gears. Besides causing noise, that will make metal filings in the fluid which can damage seals and cause valves to stick.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 AT 12:25 AM