I have a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, and the heater recently stopped working. It will sometimes work for about 5 minutes or so, but will then blow cold again. Fans are working fine. I also noticed that the engine temp gauge will max out every once in a while. If I turn on the blower for the interior heating system, it will bring the engine temp gauge down very quickly.
Are these two system interrelated? Is it possible that I just need a coolant system flush or does it sound more involved than that. I'd like to try the simple fix that I can do myself before taking it to a shop if possible.
THe heater works from the heated coolant in the engine. I would start by making sure the coolant level is full. If it is full, at that point I would do one of two things. First, I would recommend having the engine checked to make sure there isn't a head gasket leaking. If that shows good, then flush the radiator and engine, replace the thermostat and refill the system. PLEASE NOTE: IF you do this yourself, make sure the heater is on when filling the system. Also, make sure to bleed the system of air.
If you have other questions, let me know.
February, 2, 2011 AT 1:17 AM
I have the identical vehicle and problem. What was the fix? Was it the thermostat?
February, 2, 2011 AT 1:19 AM
If it is the T-stat, the engine will most likely not heat up to a normal operating temp. I just answered this today. Go through the checks I mentioned to this person and let me know what you find.
February, 3, 2011 AT 4:06 AM
Mechanic says the water pump is leaking coolant. So, I'm getting it replaced tomorrow.
February, 3, 2011 AT 1:07 PM
That may be true. However, if the coolant level is full, you should still have heat. When he has the pump off, have him flush the heater core, radiator, and replace the thermostat. Labor should be less since he is already into the job. That way you have it all done and heat shouldn't be a problem.
February, 3, 2011 AT 3:56 PM
Thanks. They filled it w/ coolant so I could drive home. I do now have heat. I only filled the reservoir, not from the top of the radiator. It was near the max level when I did that, but might have dripped out before the next time I drove it. I'll do the flush, but will do the thermostat myself. They also said the serpentine belt had coolant on it and suggested that be replaced. I bought a new one at Napa and will do that myself too. YouTube video shows how to do it. Doesn't look too tough.
February, 3, 2011 AT 7:32 PM
That sounds good. However, would they consider replacing the belt if you provide it? They have to put the old one on regardless. As far as coolant on the old belt, if it is in good shape, you should be able to clean it. Now for the thermostat, they don't have to remove the housing for the water pump, but it may be cheaper for them to replace it because you will have to drain the new coolant they put in. Coolant used to be 4 or 5 dollars a gallon. Now, it is pushing 15. Prices are getting out of control. Don't be afraid to tell them you already have a belt and if they would just put it on for you. There is nothing additional for them to do. Also, if you refer to our homepage under the DIY section, you will find all the belt routing diagrams for your vehicle. Feel free to ask me if you have questions too. Now for the t-stat, see what they would charge. It is nothing more than the removal of 2 bolts, cleaning the old gasket off, and removing and replacing the t-stat. See if they will include it in the price if you give them the t-stat since they already have the system drained, the other end of the hose off. I bet they will. It will take them an extra 10 minutes and save you the trouble. Plus, if by accident you lose the coolant when you drain it (and you will lose some), then you have to buy more, so it may work out for the same price if they are honest people. It doesn't hurt to ask. And again, don't be afraid to tell them you already purchased a t-stat and belt because you planned to do that yourself.
Take care and let me know if you have other questions.
February, 3, 2011 AT 8:39 PM
They quoted me $323 total to do the water pump. $94 for the water pump, $193 labor plus coolant. I bought a new water pump (lifetime warranty) at Napa for $40.82 that they agreed to install for the labor. That labor is a little higher than other places I called, but they took the time to diagnose the problem and put some coolant in so I could drive home. And, any separate coolant cost is removed b/c I'm doing the radiator flush ($84), which includes the coolant.
I bought a serpentine belt for $23 at Napa. Their quote is $70.91 for the belt and $96.50 to install it ($167.41 total). I'm looking at their printed quote now that details everything. Based on what you just told me, that seems ridiculous. And, if they are taking off the serpentine belt anyhow and putting it back on, it makes me even more skeptical if not ****ed that they quoted $167.51 for a new one.
I specifically spoke to the mechanic who said he didn't see any problems w/ the tstat. I haven't bought that yet and don't plan on replacing it unless a new problem happens.
They've done some work, so I don't want to walk away w/out anything for their time, but they also seem high so I'm minimizing my cost and experience w/ them. They have 3 service centers in this area, have been around for awhile, and are reputable. They're entitled to make a profit, but the price differences on the belt and water pump are too big. The Dodge dealership even quoted me a lower price on the water pump ($84) and labor ($170). I told them and they were surprised the dealership was less than they were, but they weren't willing to lower their price. I also told them the price of the Napa water pump. They thought it must be remanufactured, but it's not and I told them that too.
February, 3, 2011 AT 9:15 PM
Wow! 96 dollars to install a serp belt? If you can figure out a way to get enough customers, we could be rich. It's a 5 to 10 minute job. Slightly longer if it has a seperate AC belt (extra 10 minutes. In an 8 hour day, I could install hundreds of them. Plus, you got a good price from NAPA, but I even get a discount from that price. And yes, they have to remove the belt to replace the waterpump, so waterpump replacement should include replacing the belt they took off. I don't know where you live, but here is how I do it. I get the belt at my cost and sell it at retail which is usually around a 20 dollar mark-up. From there I usually charge another 10.00 to install it. I thought I was doing well making aprox 30 dollars profit for 10 minutes of work. Maybe you have taught me something. However, I couldn't charge people that much and still be able to sleep at night. It's hard enough to make a buck. I think one of the commandments says "you shall not steal." I would feel I was.
Let me know if you have other questions.
February, 3, 2011 AT 10:37 PM
I innocently asked about the serpentine belt if they took it off to clean it when they replaced the water pump. The service advisor at the front desk said no that they had a small tool that clamps or wraps on it to clean it. But, maybe he was wrong. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He didn't do the repair.
When I watched the YouTube video to replace the serpentine belt, it looked like it took about 10-15 minutes total w/ explanation and everything. So, yeah, $96 to replace it when they were already working on the van in that same area of the vehicle seemed way too high. And, $70 for a belt that was $23 at Napa?
Boulder, CO, is generally a more expensive place to live, but this was out of whack regardless.