Coolant leak

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  #1  
Old 01-05-09, 05:59 AM
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Coolant leak

I have a 97 Plymouth Voyager ( 3.2 ltr. engine) with a coolant leak. I haven't been able to find where it is coming from yet. I think a lift would be more helpful. Anyways, if you run the engine for a while and it heats up, you can see a fairly steady dripping of coolant from underneath the vehicle just behind the oil pan cover ( I don't see anything leaking from the hoses) . I know there is a slight bearing noise from the waterpump. I was wondering if you think this could be the waterpump and if so, how extensive of a repair is this ( cost/labor)? I probably wouldn't attempt myself as looking at the book you need to remove a few things as well as the timing chain and stuff which is out of my league. Thanks for the help
 
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Old 01-05-09, 11:21 AM
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Water pump would be a possibility; the timing belt driven pumps are sometimes difficult to determine if they are leaking due to being hidden behind the timing belt cover. It would be helpful if you could get in on a lift or onto ramps so you could crawl under with a flashlight for a look-see. Even then, sometimes leaks are hard to track becasue they start in one spot and then follow the path of least resistance toward the bottom of the engine before dripping off. Don't know about your Voyager, but I just did the timing belt and water pump on wife's 4 cylinder Camry (plus the oil pump seals as a precaution). The parts cost me $88, but that's with a significant discount, and I was on the job for about 4 hours or so - I was fighting a bad cold; work ten minutes, take a 5 minute break so I'm sure it could have been done faster. Wild guess I would say you're looking at about $400-500 for timing belt and water pump. One of the pros should be along with a better estimate and some other possibilities for leak points.
 
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Old 01-05-09, 11:37 AM
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Okay, thanks. The vehicle is presently idle in the garage for the next couple months, so I am trying to get the possibilities of what it could be when I go to work on it again. I guess the question is what else would cause a fairly substantial leak besides bad hoses, a leaking radiator, a bad waterpump etc. the van hasn't been run much in the last year or so and the engine seems to run fine. I am trying to rule out any major things with the engine such as blown gaskets, engine problems etc.
 
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Old 01-05-09, 05:36 PM
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You've pretty much covered the most likely causes. There are some engines that are prone to intake manifold coolant leaks, but I don't know that yours is one of them. You said 3.2L, but are you sure it isn't 3.0L? That's the size I'm seeing for '97 model year. Also 3.3L and 3.8L are common sizes, but they are timing chain with external water pumps.

You didn't mention how many miles on the beast, but at 12 years old I would assume 150,000 or so? At any rate, if you can't remember if or when the timing belt and water pump have been changed it would be good preventive insurance to change them; cheaper than having the belt break or the pump fail at the worst possible time and the farthest from home. The Gates manual calls for 60,000 mile replacement, although at least it's not a valve-bender engine so no additional damage beyond the towing bill.

You certainly have enough miles for a head gasket to be possible, but they rarely leak externally; the leakage is normally into one or more cylinders (and out the exhaust) or into the crankcase (turning the oil to a peanut-buttery consistency).
 
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