1989 Dodge Spirit



March, 11, 2009 AT 7:36 AM

Engine Cooling problem
1989 Dodge Spirit 4 cyl Two Wheel Drive Automatic 60,000 miles

Replaced leaking radiator which I filled every 2-3 days.
Now overheats. Replaced thermostat subsequently.
1)Top hose is extremely hot, but radiator cold.
2)Heater works.
3)Bottom hose is about 1/2 as hot?
4)Develops pressure.
5)Noticed it only took about 1/2gal antifreeze to fill radiator.
Suspect I got a Chinese ripoff radiator(generic box, no writing on it).

How can I verify/test the radiator?
Thanks, Mike Balto, MD


3 Answers



March, 11, 2009 AT 8:11 AM

Radiator -- The most common problems radiators fall prey to are clogging (both internal and external) and leaks. Dirt, bugs and debris can block air flow through the core and reduce the radiator's ability to dissipate heat. Internal corrosion and an accumulation of deposits can likewise inhibit coolant circulation and reduce cooling. A good way to find clogs is to use an infrared thermometer to " scan" the surface of the radiator for cold spots. If clogged, the radiator should be removed for cleaning or replaced. Backflushing the cooling system and/or using chemical cleaners can remove rust and hard water scale, but may do little to open up a clogged radiator.

When refilling the cooling system, be sure you get it completely full. Air pockets in the head(s), heater core and below the thermostat can interfere with proper coolant circulation and cooling. If the cooling system has no bleeder valves to vent air, you may have to temporarily loosen a heater hose to get all the air out of the system.



March, 26, 2009 AT 3:39 AM

I know it's been a week and a half, but I love these cars so I'm replying late. This is a copy / paste reply to a previous post so just pull out the information you can use: Simple problem; simple fix.

You had no heat without the thermostat because the coolant didn't stay in the engine long enough to get warm. This is hard on the engine because internal parts are designed to fit properly when warm and expanded. Emissions will be high, and blowby will condense in the engine oil forming sludge.

Now that you have the thermostat installed, there is a giant air pocket behind it that will not bleed out when you fill the coolant. The thermostat only opens up when hot liquid hits it, not hot air. The coolant is too low in the block to hit the thermostat so it never opens and the air can't get out. You actually got lucky. While driving, some hot coolant splashed up high enough to hit the thermostat, it opened, some cold coolant came in from the radiator, and the thermostat closed again. If the overflow bucket had been full, the engine would have drawn coolant in when it cooled down, and eventually the problem would have gone away.

To burp the air pocket out, there are two, three, or four threaded holes on the thermostat housing. There may be a plug on top and one on the side that require a 10 mm allen wrench to remove. If they are really tight or the hex hole rounds out, there will also be one or two temperature sensors. You can unscrew either of them to burp the air.

Fill the radiator while a plug or sensor is removed until you see the coolant reach the hole. An alternate method is to remove the radiator hose from the thermostat housing and use a long thin screwdriver or punch to push on the spring-loaded thermostat disc to release the trapped air.

You will need to perform one of these procedures every time you flush the coolant or drain the system for a repair. Some thermostats have a very small bleed hole in the center disc to allow a small amount of coolant to flow when it's still cold. This is especially important when the thermostat is a long way from where most of the internal heat is generated. The temperature sensor for the gauge reads the hot coolant, but the thermostat is surrounded by cool liquid so it doesn't open up. Eventually the hot liquid migrates over to the thermostat and it opens, but not before the gauge indicates an overheating condition. When the thermostat opens, cold liquid rushes in from the radiator, the temperature gauge goes to cold, the thermostat closes, and the process starts all over again. Depending on the engine, it can take a few cycles to become steady, or it may never stop cycling. Some thermostats have that small bleed hole to keep the hot coolant flowing to prevent the gauge fluctuations.




March, 26, 2009 AT 9:02 AM

I have discovered the problem. My stupidity. I found a rubber plug in the outlet/bottom outlet inside the metal but pushed inside. I should have inspected it more thoroughly before installing.

Thanks for all replys,

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