99 Stratud Overheats when driving--now oil light comes on

Tiny
MRS.CADLAON
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 DODGE STRATUS
  • 133,000 MILES
Hello! I really need some help with my 99 Stratus (2.4L). For a few weeks, my husband and I noticed that our car would get a little too warm (temp gauge reading) at the end of the day. We would lose coolant after turning the car off, particularly if it was a rainy night, the next morning there would be coolant on the ground.

We replaced the thermostat, bled the system, replaced the upper radiator hose, took out the reservoir (and it was gunky) and washed and dried it well. Put all back together and filled the system with new coolant---and disaster! We test drove it and although in park it runs like a dream, when you drive it a couple of miles, it overheats dramatically, and if you slow down it shudders to a complete stop and turns itself off, and the oil light comes on! (Just did an oil change, too). Scary when this is all the transport I have!

My loving husband and my brother "wiggled" the new hose and thought it might just have a kink in it, which it did not. Unfortunately, they decided to test drive it again and not only did it behave the same, when they opened the hood there was a distinct smell of oil burning off somewhere. AAA towed the car back home.

Of course money is an issue so I need to know what I'm doing when we take it to the mechanic--or fix it ourselves. Or junk it.

I'm terrified that the head gasket is shot, and doesn't that mean that the car is done? Could it be the water pump/timing belt combo? What about the oil smell? All of my fluid levels, even after this most recent test drive, are normal. Also, we already replaced 2 belts this year as we found they were original to the car (we bought used in 2009). I'm sure most everything else is, too.

If someone else asked y'all this, I'm happy to refer to that answer--I just didn't see a question answered that was exactly like my dilemma.
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Friday, October 7th, 2011 AT 3:49 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
DAN_K
  • EXPERT
When your oil light comes on, it's never a good thing. I suspect a number of things and none are good news - nor inexpensive to repair.

Have the shop check compression in all of the cylinders, and perform a cylinder leak-down test. These tests will help to confirm and identify the issues that you are experiencing.

If coolant has leaked into the crankcase due to a faulty head gasket, it could have contaminated the bearing surfaces enough to cause low oil pressure. The only way that this can be corrected is by disassembling and repairing the engine, or by replacing the engine.
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Friday, October 7th, 2011 AT 4:09 PM
Tiny
MRS.CADLAON
  • MEMBER
Thanks so much for your valuable information! I have spoken with my brother and would like to put two other pieces of information to you:
1-it idles perfectly in Park. No problems no matter how long you run it.
2-My brother says that when he smelled the burning oil smell that he's reconsidered the scent and seriously thinks it could have been transmission fluid.
Does this information change your thoughts, or no? Just wanted to check in because we're still dead in the proverbial water.
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Saturday, October 15th, 2011 AT 4:34 PM
Tiny
DAN_K
  • EXPERT
I would first determine the cause/area of the transmission leak if that's what it is.

Inspect the condition of the engine oil - be sure it's not contaminated with coolant. And we still need to know why the oil lamp came on, and the cause of the overheating issue.
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Saturday, October 15th, 2011 AT 6:09 PM

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