Engine Cooling problem
2004 Dodge Intrepid Automatic 96,000 miles
Hi, Recently I've noticed that we've been having to put in coolant more often. Nothing really prompted it, I usually just check under the hood once a week just to see how the oil & coolant are doing. Well I noticed the coolant was under the min mark in the coolant tank thing and decided to put more in. I looked at the cap and it looked like it was in bad shape, the black washer looking part on the end was all warped and cracked so I replaced it with a new one. I topped off the coolant and that was that. Well today (about a week later) I checked on the stuff again and the tank was near empty, I refilled it to the max line and we went to run a friends house about 10 miles away to drop off some papers to him and checked the tank again before we left and it was near empty again. I've been doing some lite research and I've seen many things about a blown head gasket, but the symptoms I've seen don't really match our situation besides the loss of coolant. Here is what I've observed so far:
There is no and has never been any kind of visible leak from any where. Theres no puddles under the car or anything. The car runs perfectly normal, the temp gauge never goes beyond the half way mark like normal, there's no smoke of any kind from the tail pipe. I checked the oil and it looks normal, not gray or milky. The coolant tank looks normal. The car idles normal and runs normal. I'm no mechanic or nor am I good with cars so that's all I can observe being a novice and all. Thanks for any kind of help you can give.
No visible leakage could be burning in the combustion chamber-Get it block and pressure tested
November, 23, 2008 AT 5:06 PM
This must Intrepid week. You're the 3rd one today. Anyway, you may not be a mechanic, but even most mechanics can't write as complete and detailed a description as you have. I saves us both a lot of dialog back and forth. You might not see a visiable leak, but common sense dictates, it has to be going somewhere. It doesn't just evaporate, especially at your rate. Question, does your heater put out good heat? My thought is a possible air lock in the system somewhere that expands under heat pushing coolant out the reservior while driving. These air pockets usually collect in the heater core. Bear with me, I'm picking at straws here. You've already covered the most common causes. Please advise.
November, 23, 2008 AT 5:19 PM
Thanks for the quick responses! I live in south Texas so we don't run the heat too often, but we have run it a few times these past few weeks and that's when I've noticed a dramatic difference in the coolant levels. My wife drives the car to work in the mornings and said it kinda takes a little bit to heat up (the ac/heater)
November, 23, 2008 AT 8:18 PM
Not to blow you off, but keep an eye on it for a week or so, and see what happens. Keep me posted.
November, 24, 2008 AT 8:32 PM
Had to put more coolant in today, it wasn't as dramatic as a few days ago, there was an inch or so in the tank at the end of the day and this was driving about 90 miles today. Also I took a flashlight and was looking around as best I could and noticed where there might be a leak at. There seems to be coolant puddled up a bit under the radiator fan on the right side. I took a picture, I hope it helps.. So maybe it's just a hose or the radiator leaking or something. Thanks for the input so far y'all!
Usually, if those radiators leak, it's where the core meets the tank. Right where your arrow is. The new radiators are all aluminum and plastic and just don't hold as well as the old copper ones. Plus, they are considered non-repairable.
November, 25, 2008 AT 2:26 PM
So they would just have to replace the whole radiator then right? That's a better scenario than a head gasket being blown I'd imagine? Thanks again for the help. Also, why do you think there isn't any overheating issues? The car runs at normal temp all the time. I would think losing coolant would cause the car to run hot or something. Do you think it would be worth trying a few bottles of coolant leak stopper? Or does that stuff tend not to do anything?
November, 25, 2008 AT 6:30 PM
It probabaly didn't overheat 'cause you caught it soon enough. As far as a " stop leak additive" you have to keep in mind, it is just a temporary fix. It will come back to haunt you. If you decide to go with a new radiator, this is one area where it really pays to shop around. I bought most of may customer's radiators from a local salvage yard, brand new in the box and about 30% cheaper than a parts store. Hope this helps.
November, 25, 2008 AT 7:23 PM
Honestly I think we might have went all last week with it empty, cuz I replaced the coolant tank cap on the 16th and topped it off and didn't check on it again until the following Sunday (this past Sunday) And the coolant was pretty much gone in one trip that day.
I do plan on taking it in as soon as I can, it's the only car we have so I don't like to prolong any repairs, but money is just so tight right now, I probably can't get around to it until next month sometime. That's why I was wanting to know if the stop leak stuff would be a decent temp fix until I can take it in next month. The shop I take the car to does really good work and they have a payment plan as well. Thanks again for all the help so far.
November, 26, 2008 AT 9:26 AM
Even though your coolant tank may have been empty, you still probably weren't low enough to overheat. &Quot; Bars" makes a good stopleak and they have been around for eons and you can install it yourself. Have a nice thanksgiving, Jim.