1996 Dodge Caravan Replacing water pump. Do oil seals too?

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Engine Cooling problem
1996 Dodge Caravan 6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 130000 miles

I'm about to embark on what seems the Worlds Most Complicated water pump replacement job, and someone mentioned I should replace "the oil seal" but I see three (camshafts and crankshaft) that might need replacing - kind of a hassle however from the looks of it.

1. Should I replace any/all three if the seals?
2. If so, do I need to purchase the official seal drivers?

Do you
have the same problem?
Saturday, March 20th, 2010 AT 5:54 PM

1 Reply

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You didn't mention, but I assume you have the 3.0L engine. If you're doing the water pump, you're also removing the timing belt. That means replacing the cam seals won't take much extra time as long as you're already in there. However, I was surprised to see a fairly sharp former student replace the front cam seal on the rear head on my 3.0L by removing the valve cover, tieing the timing belt to the sprocket, pulling the sprocket off, and pulling the camshaft out backwards. He had that seal changed in a couple of hours! My van is an '88 so access is much easier, but the point is, why replace a seal that isn't leaking and put one in that has a chance of leaking when you're done?

I also had to replace my water pump and used the opportunity to replace the crankshaft seal. It was hard and brittle, and it had cracked causing a small leak, but that was after 330,000 miles. Here too, I would recommend leaving it alone if it isn't causing a problem. Instead of seals, I'd suggest replacing the timing belt just on principal. This is not an interference engine so nothing will be damaged if it breaks, except for your pride when you're sitting on the side of the road.

The dealer does have special seal drivers, but large sockets work just a well. The seals can be easily tapped in with a small hammer but they're easy to bend that way too. That can deform the lip and cause a leak. Lubricate the lip to prevent it from sticking to the journal and flipping over, and I trust my work a little more if I use a light coating of RTV gasket sealer on the outside of the metal ring. That helps hold it from popping out, (more common on the rear, easy-to-get-to cam seals), and insures it won't leak. If you do that, the Mopar black RTV sealer stays more rubbery and will not bond and form a seal if there is any oil residue on the surfaces. The gray stuff gets a little harder and will bond and seal much better.


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Saturday, March 20th, 2010 AT 6:58 PM

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