1993 Dodge Caravan Caravan overheated coolant in engine

Tiny
JRC813JR
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  • 1993 DODGE CARAVAN
Engine Cooling problem
1993 Dodge Caravan Front Wheel Drive Automatic 158750 miles

my caravan overheated and the mechanic replaced a hose. It is still overheating and a friend said it may have coolant in the engine. Mechanic said it may have cracked block or blown head gasket. You can drive it for about 2 miles before temperature gauge starts moving up and car cuts off. Is there a way to drain the fluid without having to get a new engine
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Thursday, April 9th, 2009 AT 8:37 PM

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Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
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A problem in this industry is poor communication.I'm as bad as any.

If you overheat an engine and make it too hot, metal insde will crack or gaskets will fail. There are coolant ports and oil passageways as well as paths for air. IF a breach occurs it can be between any or all of them. By the description, it appears that coolant may be entering the oil that circulates independent of the coolant.

Unless the truck is in immaculate shape, start looking for another. PArts will become obsolete on a 1993, and sure some have already been discontinued.
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Thursday, April 9th, 2009 AT 8:49 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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NO! Don't scrap a '93! I drive a 1988 Grand Caravan all over the country because it never breaks down and isn't full of complicated, expensive, unreliable, unnecessary computers. I have a '95 Grand Caravan that I don't trust any further than I'm willing to walk home.

If you have a four-cylinder engine, there's probably an air pocket that the mechanic didn't burp out. It rarely burps on its own, so until someone does that simple procedure, coolant won't circulate to the radiator.

Head gaskets aren't a big deal anymore and parts will be available for many years to come. Regardless which engine you have, your van is very easy to work on, especially compared to the new stuff. Cracked cylinder heads are not real common, but if you do need one, remanufactured heads are available from engine machine shops for a very reasonable cost. Have your mechanic perform a "sniff" test at the radiator cap. Air is drawn through a large glass tube partially filled with a special blue fluid. The fluid will turn bright yellow if combustion chamber gases are present in the coolant. That is proof of a cracked cylinder head, or more likely, a corroded head gasket.

I bought a 1989 Caravan with the 3.0L engine a few years ago that needed a complete rebuild including a used crankshaft. Total cost of parts was less than $300.00.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, April 10th, 2009 AT 5:38 AM
Tiny
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I suppose there are factors to consider on this doc. IF this is the 2.5 engine, it would be less to repair if it is a headgasket. The 3.0 and the 3.3 motors would be considerably more to repair.

I believe this person is not going to be doing this job themselves and parts will be considerably higher since a shop will be doing this. Long shot the block is cracked. 2.5 is more likley to need a head in my experience, than just a gasket. Have seen weak cam shafts on them as well.

Same on the 3.3. More heads than just gaskets.

3.0. Probably a gasket, still the labor isn't cheap.

The 93s have computers. And are necessary to meet the needs of emission requirements and optimal performance. Many people fear the technology because they don't understand it.

I respectfully agree that repairing a car is always cheaper in the long run, but there are parts the aftermarket does not supply and the dealer is only required to make them up to 10 years. One is then at the mercy of boneyards, if a certain part can be found at all. A large volume of car have been crushed after the recent high scrap values so the supply of parts have been additionally affected.

With 160,000 miles on this one, we need to know the condition of rest of the vehicle. In the northeast with the salt. This one would be trash. Texas it may be in exceptional shape and may warrant the repair.

Based on the mechanic's diagnosis, coupled with the symptom of it stalling after 2 miles, this isn't likely a case of trapped air.
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Friday, April 10th, 2009 AT 6:35 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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Yup, a '93 has computers, just like my '95, but any junkyard computer will work, and there are companies that rebuild Lean Burn computers from the '70s, so computers will be available for a long time. Same with new engine parts. They are available for '40s and '50s cars, why not '80s and '90s. And junkyard parts are cheap.

As for not understanding new technology, I taught it for nine years in a community college. Electrical was my main specialty; my others were Suspension & Alignment, Brakes, and Engines. I was the alignment specialist at a Dodge dealership for ten years. My understanding of computers goes as far as replacement computers that must be programmed over the internet with software before they will work, and used computers that will not work because they must have the right VIN number programmed in. Can anyone explain how that helps the customer?

I agree engine computer controls are necessary for proper tail pipe emissions, (that's the only computer on my '88), but I don't think I'm so stupid that I need a computer to lock my car doors. Newer cars need computers to run wipers, head lights, dome lights, even heater and defroster controls. I have all those things on my van, they work fine, and none are run by computers.

To blow the horn on Fords, the horn switch sends a voltage to the instrument cluster, the most intelligent computer on the car, which sends a coded signal to the Front Electronic Module, (FEM), which turns on the horn relay. Smart! Two computers involved in honking the horn. How does that affect emissions? The most common fix for an inoperative horn costs over $500.00. Not on my car.

I agree there's other factors to consider when confronted with a major repair, but when you realize the typical repair bill on 2000 and newer cars is usually much higher than for the same repair on older cars, you have to wonder about the customer's needs. It's hard, in good conscience, to steer someone into a vehicle you know will present multiple expensive repairs in the future. I use my '88 van to pull an enclosed trailer that's bigger than the van. 210,600 miles on the original transmission, and not a single problem. My '95 is on its third computer-controlled transmission in 120,000 miles. It has never pulled a trailer. The dome lights in my '88 turn on with ten-dollar door switches, just like they did for the last 60 years. If I want the dome lights to work again in my '95, I'll have to replace the defective body computer. Better technology that I don't understand? There's nothing wrong with new technology, but there is a problem with over-complicating the issue unnecessarily.

Because manufacturers insist on using a computer to do what a simple switch can do more reliably and more cheaply, is the reason I will never buy another new car, and I will not own anything newer than a '95. I have swap spaces at the nation's second largest old car show, and I hear the same thing from a lot of people every year. People don't want the stuff being built today. As a former tv repairman, I still hear complaints about over-complicated remote controls. So we have the technology to have 50 buttons, but what good is it if people don't want it?

As far as rust, it makes me sick every winter to be living in Wisconsin where a pound of salt is thrown on top of an ounce of snow. After being driven daily in this crap, there is a lot less rust on my '88 than on my '95. Technology would be better used solving the rust problem, not on how to bleed more money out of unsuspecting customers. Build a car that's clean, reliable, and cheap to fix, and I'll buy it.

You made some valid points Service Writer, but it frustrates me every time I see the repair bills for newer cars. It's no wonder Detroit can't sell cars. Finally, if you look at this web site, you won't find wealthy people looking for advice on how to do their own repairs. It is populated by people like us who would rather save some money by doing for ourselves that which is possible to do safely and properly. You can see for yourself that the newer the vehicles are, the more likely the problem will be solved with an expensive computer. The older the vehicle is, the more likely the owner can do the diagnosis and repair with just a little advice. What is the stereotypical self-supporting college student or single mother going to be driving ten or twenty years from now, and how are they going to afford tuition, textbooks, rent, food, gas, diapers, utilities, ... And car repairs?

Caradiodoc
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Saturday, April 11th, 2009 AT 6:17 AM
Tiny
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I agree, there is over design issues from the builders. Much is unnecessary and is not in the consumers best interest. The quality of new cars are poor, and I wouldn't buy one either. The example of the horn is a great example. Circuit boards for lights are another frustrating one.

That's a lot of miles on a caravan tranny. I'm curious as to how often the filter is changed on it?

You hit the nail on the head:
"Build a car that's clean, reliable, and cheap to fix, and I'll buy it."

The car companies just don't offer it.
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Sunday, April 12th, 2009 AT 5:33 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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At the risk of doing a disservice to the general driving public, let me first state this is not the way to take care of a major investment.

My 1988 Grand Caravan has been in the family since new. The oil is changed by my students once every other year whether it needs it or not! I do add a couple of quarts when I think of it. This is not neglect; this is abuse. There's more to oil than keeping it full. Additives such as detergents, anti-foaming agents, and seal conditioners wear out. Blowby forms sludge which increases wear on internal parts for a number of reasons. In spite of this abuse, the only major leak was a small hole rusted through the oil pan. My "temporary" repair with gray Mopar RTV sealer has been holding for five years.

At 90,000 miles, the side cover of the transmission rusted through. Since replacing it meant draining the fluid, I changed the filter and resealed the pan while I was at it. That is the only service the transmission has ever had. The van has been grossly overloaded with sheetrock, cement block, and lumber too many times to count. I did roast a rear wheel bearing once; go figure! What the average consumer doesn't understand though, is my transmission is a 3-speed hydraulically-controlled unit based on the very reliable transmissions from the 1970s rear wheel drive cars and trucks. Beginning with 1989 models, the predominant transmission was the computer-controlled 4-speed that gave Chrysler the reputation for building crap. GM and Ford are still capitalizing on that perception even though they have very similar designs.

The original muffler lasted 15 years. The engine computer is original; never had a problem with the power windows, power locks, power seat, overhead compass, or any interior or exterior lights. And all of those work just fine with no computers involved. Is it any wonder I'm "emotionally involved" with this vehicle?

In 1990, I went to work at the dealership that sold this van to my mother. Within five years, I saw a change in the manufacturer's attitude that was starting to resemble GM's business practices. Short term profits with no regard to long-term customer satisfaction and repeat business. During this time, I heard many stories about Toyota helping out their customers with product repair issues. Look who's number one now. Detroit builds cars that force customers to buy new computers rather than used, have them programmed at the dealership, and makes parts and labor services that result in huge repair bills. And look who can't sell cars now. People are getting wise.

It's neat that we can build a car with doors that open with the push of a button and a heater that provides different temperatures in different zones, but in most cases the use of this technology is out-pacing our NEED for it. People have been choosing which car to purchase based on these wows and toys, but they learn a hard lesson and are shocked over high repair bills later.

Who would spend $800.00 to repair the air conditioning system on a ten or fifteen year old car? The AC hasn't worked on my '95 Caravan for many years, and I don't need it. But on '96 and newer Caravans, the AC has to work to reprogram the HVAC computer after disconnecting the battery. My vans use levers and push buttons, not computers.

GM and Ford will no longer allow the sale of radio service manuals, presumably because people like me will put their repair centers out of business. We still figure out how to repair them but then we can't buy parts. Rather than pay unreasonable prices to send their radios in for factory service, customers save money by installing aftermarket radios. In an effort to thwart these cost-saving measures, GM now builds the body computer into their radios. You won't have operating cruise control or power windows without the proper radio installed! This is the type of business practice that makes me not even look at their cars when considering a new one.

My first new car was a 1980 Volare that I still have. It's a 4400 pound steel car with chrome bumpers, and gets 28.3 mpg consistently. A plastic Neon with styrofoam bumpers, and weighs half as much gets the same mileage. I will concede my Volare isn't as clean out the tail pipe, but it gets me where I want to go in comfort, without a single computer.

If you think about it, whether it's cars, dvd players, or washing machines, what are manufacturers in business for? It is to sell product. If products last a long time or are inexpensive to repair, you won't need to buy a new one. Manufacturers have a vested interest in producing products that break. THIS is the exact mentality I refuse to buy into, and I believe it's why more and more people are rejecting their previous loyalty to Detroit. The "buy American" rally cry loses validity when there is no incentive to pay more for a product that doesn't deliver more value.

My heart still thumps for Chrysler, but don't expect my wallet to explode anytime soon unless they build a product that won't drain my bank account.

Thanks for acknowledging my opinion; now tell me how to get it to the marketing and design geniuses in Detroit.

Caradiodoc
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Monday, April 13th, 2009 AT 1:47 AM

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