Coolant leak

Tiny
JEAN-GUILHEM BARGUèS
  • MEMBER
  • 1986 DODGE VAN
  • 5.2L
  • V8
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 250,000 MILES
Hi there,

I made a big mistake when de winterizing my Dodge. I drove for 1 hour without knowing that I didn't have much coolant left in the system. Overheating seems to have weakened all the pipes, gaskets and joints. GG

Anyway, the mechanics fixed the pump intake, a few o-rings, some pipes, the thermostat, saying "you should be fine". But then today I realized I just lost half of my reserve after not even 100,000.
It certainly feels like the couple of mechanics I've dealt with don't really take the issue seriously and chose the least resistance path, replacing only easy stuff instead of doing all the necessary tests to know if my head gasket is blown or not, for instance. At this point I believe it's either that or the intake gasket.
And it appears no one on the Montreal island wants to change the gaskets of a 1986 Dodge. At least not now, being busy and all.

This is preventing me from leaving for my three months long road trip (15/20k km). Wondering if it's safe to just start driving as is and just find a guy somewhere along the road who could do the job if the leak persists. Considering taking the chance of using a gasket sealant as a temporary fix.

Any thoughts please?
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Friday, June 14th, 2019 AT 11:13 AM

5 Replies

Tiny
KASEKENNY1
  • EXPERT
Hi Jean,

It sounds like there is a possible head gasket issue. I would suggest performing a compression test just to ensure there is no issue or if there is correct prior to leaving.

If this is a head gasket, then it will not be corrected by using a stop leak product once you are using that amount of coolant.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-test-engine-compression

There is a possibility that intake gaskets could cause an issue but this amount of coolant, I would look at head gaskets first.

If it were me, I would get this figured out before heading out because if this is a head gasket, not only will only get worse but it could damage the engine further only making your repair more costly.

Please let me know if you need more information.
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Friday, June 14th, 2019 AT 12:33 PM
Tiny
JEAN-GUILHEM BARGUèS
  • MEMBER
Thanks for your input Kenny,

Compression tests have been successful after the water pump and thermostat repair job. But I realized the next day it's still leaking. And the engine scuffles a bit, doesn't run as smoothly as it used to. I saw on the very page you linked that I could have a spark plug and some other tests done (none of which the mechanics have done.) But as of now, at least, my coolant doesn't bubble.
I figured I'll be best to find a skilled Dodge mechanic as soon as I cross the US border? My mechanic basically told me to just be on my way and he doesn't want to see me anymore because my problem "exhausts him". Boy I'll need another one indeed. I need someone who likes to repair old American vans.
Don't you think I can leave and temporarily mitigate the problem by always checking oil and coolant levels, until I fix it ASAP? I'm already ten days behind schedule.
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Friday, June 14th, 2019 AT 4:11 PM
Tiny
KASEKENNY1
  • EXPERT
Well, I cannot predict how long your van will make it but if you are going to leave and are okay getting it checked out along the way then you may be fine.

If it were me, I would look around a little bit more in your town and try to find a different mechanic to take a look at it. Basically, once you get on the road then you will be at the mercy of a tow truck taking you to a shop they know about in the event the van fails on the side of the road. You just have more control over the situation now before you leave but if you are going to leave, I would track your path and start trying to locate shops along the way so if it gets worse, you have an idea of where to go.

If you leave, I would definitely check oil and coolant each time you stop. Just get a case of oil and a couple gallons of pre-mixed coolant.
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Sunday, June 16th, 2019 AT 9:37 AM
Tiny
JEAN-GUILHEM BARGUèS
  • MEMBER
I had to leave and drove 700 km without obvious loss of coolant, which is very reassuring. The smoke coming from exhaust is white though, and stinks as hell, but this is a old van. The mechanic back in Montreal told me not to overthink, but I don't really like this approach when I'm on my way to drive 20k km.
Still checking everyday my coolant tank and closely monitoring the heat/oil levels. I'm a bit worried I'm leaking a bit of engine oil. Still on the lookout for a skilled mechanic to get another opinion.
Cheers Kenny, thanks for your input ! Fingers crossed
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Monday, June 17th, 2019 AT 7:50 AM
Tiny
KASEKENNY1
  • EXPERT
Awesome news. Thanks for the update. Feel free to come back if you have more questions. Thanks. Safe travels.
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Monday, June 17th, 2019 AT 1:03 PM

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