2005, Dodge caravan Temperature problems

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  #1  
Old 09-24-13, 02:09 PM
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2005, Dodge caravan Temperature problems

So, lately it's been getting colder in the mornings around here. Cold enough that you'd have to turn on the defog to melt the frost off the windshield. Even when the van has been running long enough to have warmed up, the defog is still pushing out cold air. Eventually it switches over to warm air but seems like an inordinately long time.

This morning, same thing however once the van got up to temperature it never did start pushing hot air. Then all of a sudden the temperature gauge starts heading towards the "H" pretty fast. I kind of started to panic a bit and for some reason turned off the defog, which was still pushing cold air. All of a sudden the temp gauge went back to where it normally sits. I ended up driving to work with no heat. Wow, that wasn't fun.

Worked a full day. Now it's nice and toasty out. I figured I could just get home without needing any heat and figure this out or post on here or whatever. Didn't turn on the heat. Couple of minutes after driving home, the temp gauge starts heading towards "H" again. It usually sits just slightly below half. Then all of a sudden it goes back to normal and I am able to get home.

Does this sound like a sticky thermometer that needs replacing? That's about as far as my barely passing grade 9 auto shop has gotten me on this one.

Any further information required, please ask. I can't afford to be without this thing for long as it's my painter mobile.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-24-13, 03:13 PM
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When was the last time you checked the coolant level, it can happen that an engine low on coolant can not register accurate temperature and as well there may not be enough coolant to fill the heater core correctly. The rapid rise or erratic temp readings make me think of that first. Be sure the system is full without air in it.
 
  #3  
Old 09-24-13, 03:18 PM
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When you run the defroster, the air conditioner runs to dry up the fog. As far as overheating, could be the thermostat but the fact that it suddenly drops tells you it is working although maybe sticking. I would check the coolant level first before changing the thermostat. Also, if your car ever does start overheating, best thing to do is turn on the heat full blast.
 
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Old 09-24-13, 04:23 PM
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Another vote for coolant level check.
 
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Old 09-25-13, 05:20 AM
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Thanks guys. Didn't get a chance to look at this until now. Will check the coolant level.

Haven't been under the hood in a while, so maybe it's a good time to check every thing under there.
 
  #6  
Old 09-25-13, 05:42 AM
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on coolant level check and possible thermostat.
 
  #7  
Old 09-25-13, 07:07 AM
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If you must replace the thermostat, and it isn't rocket science, be sure to get a good name brand, or at least make sure it is USA made. Cheap me bought one for my Cummins and after a water pump replacement drove it about 4 miles and got the overheat check gauges thingy. Come to find out thermostats have "weep" holes in them to allow water from the engine to weep into the cooling system, even if the thermostat is closed, to equalize the volume of coolant in each. I pulled mine and it didn't have it, so it was keeping all the hot coolant in the engine and not purging, or burping to the radiator. New one fixed that.
 
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Old 09-25-13, 09:48 AM
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So, you guys were right. I checked the rad fluid reservoir jug. Was well below the minimum level, and in fact I couldn't even see anything in the jug below that.

Drove to local hardware store, took about 10 minutes. Temperature gauge didn't change one bit from cold. Didn't think that looked good. Bought a gallon of antifreeze, poured about 3/4 of a gallon in which brought it up to max level in the reservoir. Drove for a couple of minutes and the temp gauge came up, but again started approaching hot. Then it quickly dropped down to the normal range. Pulled over and checked the reservoir level again and it was down about an inch from the max level.

Drove around town for about 45 minutes and the temp gauge stayed right where it usually sits without problems. Turned on the defog several times to check and it was nice and hot air blowing.

Just got home and checked the reservoir level again. It was still around an inch below max level (didn't appear to have moved since before driving for 45 minutes), so I dumped the rest of the gallon jug in which brought it up to the max level. I've picked up another gallon just to have in the van in case.

Not sure if rad fluid is something that has to circulate for a while before the level in the reservoir gives you a true indication of whether it's full or not. Any thoughts on this?

Pretty sure at this point that I have a leak of some sort though. I'll put some cardboard on the ground under the engine area to see if any drips show up. I'll also keep an eye on the temp gauge to see if the temperature swings continue.
 
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Old 09-25-13, 09:52 AM
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By filling only the reservoir, the liquid will only go back into the engine/radiator when it cools down. Your pour should have been directly into the radiator. When you get low on water, there sometimes is not enough to circulate to the heater core, thus no heat to the windshield. Once it has cooled down, check your reservoir. It will probably be depleted again. Pour liquid into the radiator and fill the reservoir to it's mid stage to allow for expansion and contraction of the liquid in the radiator.
 
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Old 09-25-13, 09:57 AM
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Thanks Chandler. Again. So, I'll let it cool down for an hour or so and check the reservoir. When I pour into the radiator, fill it right to the top?
 
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Old 09-25-13, 10:07 AM
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Yep, fill the radiator full, but the reservoir to it's limit line, which is sometimes halfway.
 
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Old 09-25-13, 04:58 PM
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And while you have the radiator cap off throw it away and replace it.
 
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Old 09-25-13, 06:58 PM
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If your thermo dont have a weep hole force it open and put an aspirn in it to hold it open. When you can fill the block thru the thermo hole.
 
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Old 09-26-13, 12:32 PM
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Wow, just found out it's my water pump leaking. Badly. Apparently it's common on these.

Just my luck. In one month, my wife's car has multiple problems, the loaner she got from her brother almost kills her and costs several hundred to get repaired so we can take it back to him, our oven goes, my stereo system gets fried by lightning, dog gets allergies and costs hundreds for vet bill. Now this.

I must have been a very bad person in a previous life.

Thanks guys. I'll get a new rad cap when I get it back and will always in the future fill the rad through the thermostat hole.
 
  #15  
Old 09-26-13, 01:49 PM
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I think you misunderstood,,, when you drain a system to change a thermo,, fill it thru the thermo hole as much as possible before putting the thermo in. This will eliminate a lot of air. When you top off a cooling system you do it at the rad when possible. Adding fluid to the res. is not the way usually.
 
  #16  
Old 09-26-13, 01:53 PM
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Ah, thank you sir for the clarification.
 
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