96 Town & Country overheating

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Just Me (remove, Nov 17, 2005.

  1. I have been working this issue for a while and tried everything I can
    think of.

    The radiator eventually boils out all the water from the radiator
    causing the engine to not cool properly. Once I fill it back up it runs
    fine. It takes many weeks and possibly months for this to happen and I
    give up daily checking for a while and then before I know it the water
    is low and it's hot.

    I have changed the thermostat. I had a diagnostic code that said the
    fan relay was bad, so I replaced that. I flushed the system. I
    replaced the draincock (because I broke it doing the flush) and that is
    tight and leak free as ever. The system doesn't lose water at rest when
    parked. No fluid lost while stopped. It has to be lost when it is
    running and on the road.

    One thing I am wondering about is the A/C. It is cooler now in
    California so the A/C is mostly off (though the wife loves to have it on
    once it hits 70 degrees outside.) The last few days warmed up to above
    80 and I know the A/C was turned on. Is there a place that could lose
    water in the A/C?
    Just Me (remove, Nov 17, 2005
  2. Just Me (remove

    kmatheson Guest

    Since you say that it does not overheat at idle, it is probably safe to
    assume that the fans are coming on correctly. Also, since it is a Town
    and Country, it probably does not have the 2.4L which has a known
    problem with headgasket failure.

    Have you done a flow check on the radiator and checked the belt to
    ensure that it is not slipping? It looks like you have checked all the
    usually stuff.

    -Kirk Matheson
    kmatheson, Nov 17, 2005
  3. Just Me (remove

    Steve Guest

    One thing that often gets overlooked is the radiator cap. It is supposed
    to hold a certain minimumum pressure before venting. As radiator caps
    age, they sometimes will hold pressure, but not the FULL rated pressure.
    What happens then is that water in the engine boils very slowly and the
    vapor is slowly released through the radiator cap. Eventually, enough is
    lost that the level drops significantly. That's the first thing I'd
    check. Heck, I wouldn't even CHECK it, I'd just replace the darned thing
    and see if the problem goes away.
    Do you mean coolant water getting into the AC system? No way, absolutely
    impossible- they're two COMPLETELY separate systems. Now, running the AC
    does put a heavier load on the cooling system because the radiator only
    gets cooled by air that has already been pre-warmed by the AC condensor.
    If you have a cooling system leak (like the radiator cap I described
    above) its entirely possible that running the A/C will cause coolant to
    disappear a little faster.
    Steve, Nov 17, 2005
  4. Just Me (remove

    Joe Pfeiffer Guest

    Slow, slow leak.

    Have you had the cooling system pressure-tested? Try putting it up to
    16psi when cold, and look for drips.
    Joe Pfeiffer, Nov 17, 2005
  5. Sounds like you have a slow leak in your cooling system. It might be hard to
    find because if it is a really slow leak, most of the coolant will evaporate
    before you see a drip. I would check all the hoses ends to see if there are
    any signs of a leak.
    Alex Rodriguez, Nov 17, 2005
  6. Your two most likely problems are either a bad head gasket or a leaky
    water pump. On the 3.0 engine sometimes the water will pool on the
    engine and boil off and you'll never know it until it's all gone.
    Robbie and Laura Reynolds, Nov 17, 2005
  7. Just Me (remove

    Ken Weitzel Guest


    A really old guys olden days trick, if I may?

    Grab one of the ready to be thrown out white towels from your house.
    Cut it into strips, perhaps three inches wide. Slit both ends of
    each of the strips for a few inches.

    Wrap one around each of the possible suspect hose ends, and the rad
    cap. Tie it with the slit ends.

    Then drive around for a while. If any of the connections is bad
    it will be wet and a little stained. And perhaps HOT, so be careful :)

    Take care.

    Ken Weitzel, Nov 17, 2005
  8. Just Me (remove

    Steve Guest

    Have you checked the hoses and such for the rear heater?
    Steve, Nov 17, 2005
  9. Just Me (remove

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Replace the radiator cap. It may no longer be holding pressure and you lose
    fluid out the overflow drain tube. make sure fans run properly and the
    radiator is not plugged. Short of that, it could be a head gasket, but
    check the other stuff first.

    Bob Shuman, Nov 18, 2005
  10. I found a small leak in the radiator itself by letting it idle hot for a
    while. I assume that is where I am losing pressure and how it is
    leaking while driving. It stops leaking when cool and it is very slow
    when hot and doesn't ever deposit on the ground.

    I am trying some radiator stop leak for now, but it seems not to be
    working in the brief time it has been in.

    Where is the best place to get a new radiator? Autozone has a standard
    two row for $179 and a HD 1 row for $209.

    Should I get a better one? I only do standard, local driving.
    Just Me (remove, Nov 20, 2005
  11. Just Me (remove

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Don't use stop leak as it just plugs up the radiator.

    HD radiator usually is three rows (regular is two) not one. IIRC, most
    Autozone low end radiators are made in China.

    Bob Shuman, Nov 20, 2005
  12. Update:

    Sorry, I used stop leak. I only care to make the van run for another
    two years before replacing it so I hope it doesn't screw it up too much.
    Not worried that it will screw up the radiator especially since I'll
    replace it if that is still the issue.

    After a day of light stop-n-go driving, the leak has stopped. I was
    surprised. A brown powdery substance remains where the leak was, but
    when running and under pressure there is no more water flowing out. The
    car runs great as it has before, but we'll see how long before it boils

    Still would like advise on where to buy a radiator if this fix doesn't
    work for the long haul.
    Just Me (remove, Nov 21, 2005

  13. Buy from the radiator shop that supplies the other radiator shops.
    Robbie and Laura Reynolds, Nov 21, 2005
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