2004 Dodge Stratus Overheating and White Smoke

Tiny
HANS14591
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 DODGE STRATUS
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 40,000 MILES
My daughter drove her Dodge Stratus 300 miles from Connecticut, when she noticed the temperature rising rapidly. The car overheated and stopped running.
Since it was only 60 miles from her destination I took the time to drive and inspect the damage.
Opening the radiator revealed no visible fluid. We then poured in about 3-4 gallons of water into the radiator to make sure no leaking radiator hose or whole was present. No leaks! Closed the radiator cap after which we turned the ignition and were able to start the car. The car was running rough and white smoke came out of the tail pipe. So after approx 20 seconds we shut the car off. Rechecking the water level in the radiator confirmed that water was "disappearing".
We then had the car towed by AAA to a dealer.
My question pertains to commments that this car has aluminum heads and may be expensive to repair. I suspect we have a blown head gasket and maybe some other damage due to overheating.

Any comments and what test the Dealer should run will be helpful. Since my daughter is in graduate school she wants to minimize the repair bill and not being taken for a "ride".

Thank you.
Hans
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Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 AT 9:35 PM

2 Replies

Tiny
LEGITIMATE007
  • EXPERT
Well first of all, you nailed it. Apparently she drove the vehicle with little coolant in it or even possibly a bad engine coolant temp. Sensor. Causing the car to overheat and blow the head gasket, hopefully it didn't warp the head, now, the only time you should take your vehicle to the dealer, is if you are under warranty and are gonna get the job done for free, otherwise they will tear your purse right off your arm. It would be my recommendation to always take it to a regular shop and get several opinions from others on prices/labor. Labor for a head gasket both sides is about 10 hours at 100 dollars an hour, can be ugly. Not including parts. So its an ugly thing that could have been avoided simply by checking all fluids every so often. IM not trying to be harsh but it really sucks to have to pay that much money. For that. I feel for you, and if you have any other questions, or you just need some emotional support(lol) just right back
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Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 AT 10:07 PM
Tiny
LEGITIMATE007
  • EXPERT
If you did warp the head, (hopefully not), don't you dare buy new heads, my recommendation would be to go to the junk yard and have somebody pull them off for you. You will save hundreds in that aspect. New heads or remanufactured ones are easily 4 to 8 hundred dollars when getting them through any shop, let alone the dealer prices.
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Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 AT 10:09 PM

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