1997 Dodge Caravan not heating clicking in box

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  #1  
Old 12-01-05, 06:38 PM
bman55
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1997 Dodge Caravan not heating clicking in box

My '97 Caravan heater is not working nor is the engine warming up. There is a load clicking coming from a box by the belts on the left side of the engine (when standing in front of vehicle). This rounded box looks like it has relays/swithches on it. Looks to be connected to heating/cooling system. What is it? And what is most likely wrong? Thanks!!
 
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  #2  
Old 12-01-05, 11:01 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 97
How many miles does the van have on it? The heater not working and engine not warming up is most likely one of a few different possible things:

1. You are low on antifreeze/coolant. The ECT (electronic coolant temperature sensor) as well as the temperature guage will not read correctly if they are not submersed in coolant...if there is not enough coolant in your cooling system to submerse them then your guage will not show that the engine ever really warms up. In reality, though, your engine will be VERY VERY hot and if this is the case then MAJOR engine damage will likely occur. Your heater will not work if there is not enough coolant to flow through the heater core as well so if you havn't already the first thing that you should do is verify that the cooling system is FULL of good antifreeze. If your van is equipped with a pressure cap directly attached to the radiator (some newer vehicles have a remote coolant reservoir off to the side somewhere with no way to fill the radiator itself) then you need to let the van sit a while (3 or more hours) and take the pressure cap off (do NOT remove the cap while the vehicle is at operating temperature! You can be seriously injured!) to verify that the radiator is full.

2. If the radiator and/or the remote coolant jug are full then the next most likely thing I can think of would be that your thermostat is stuck in the open position -- or missing -- which allows a constant flow of coolant through your radiator. The thermostat is designed to block coolant flow to the radiator (the part that "cools" the coolant) so that your engine can warm up to an optimal operating temperature (usually around 185 degrees). There is really no good way to check the thermostat except to take it out and look at it...if you have someone do this it would be a good idea to replace it even if it does not appear to be the problem...thermostats are too cheap and too important not to replace while you have the opportunity.

3. It is unlikely that this would cause the engine to not warm up at all, but are your radiator cooling fans running constantly? If they were it would explain the "clicking" noise that you are hearing, but usually even though this condition will cause your vehicle to take a long time to warm up, eventually you should see the needle rise at least a little bit.

As for the clicking noise if it is not for the fans I don't know. My suggestion would be to aquire a component locater manual or wiring diagram to find out what the "clicking" relay controls once you pinpoint which one it is.
 
  #3  
Old 12-02-05, 12:45 PM
bman55
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thanks for the great reply fallen. I of course thought thermostat at first, but I have never heard of an electrical box clicking and jumping because of a bad thermostat? So I figured it must be the sensors or relays in this box that are either letting the coolant pass through all the time or not at all so that the coolant isn't getting heated. One just assumes that when a control box is jumping that it is probably the problem. The van has 138,000 miles so it could be any number of things I suppose like a bad control module. Perhaps that's what the box is? I have also read that the heater core valve may not be opening - perhaps that is the click in the box? Tough to say.

Also does anyone know where i can get a view of the engine for a '97 Caravan so I can identify the electrical box in question? Thanks!
 

Last edited by bman55; 12-02-05 at 12:46 PM. Reason: manual
  #4  
Old 12-02-05, 04:17 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 97
If it was JUST your heater not working and you didn't have the not warming up problem then I would say that it could have something to do with the electrical module/box. There are not any sensors or relays or ANYTHING electrical that can stop coolant from flowing through your engine. Some of those Chrysler vans do have heater control valves but most of them are vaccuum controlled and even if your heater control valve IS controlled electronically and IS malfunctioning then it would only affect the heater, it would not keep the engine from warming up....if anything it would make it warm up faster. Have you verified by any other source than the guage that after a long period of running your engine is not warming up to operating temperature?
 
  #5  
Old 12-02-05, 07:38 PM
bman55
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Could very well be just the thermostat. Yes the heater is not getting hot and I can tell when under the hood that the engine is not nearly as hot as it should be. Can't seem to find out what the box that is clicking is called - that would help greatly. I'm afraid it may be something other then thermostat and then I waste time putting in thermostat. I would agree with you that nothing electrical should really affect the flow of coolant. How about the cold air door if it is electric - I am not sure - but have heard that this can cause this? Don't know on a Caravan.
 
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