Leaking antifreeze on a 3.8L



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Thread: Leaking antifreeze on a 3.8L

  1. #1
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    Leaking antifreeze on a 3.8L

    I have a 2000 Grand Caravan with a 3.8 L engine that is leaking antifreeze externally from the front of the engine. I had a mechanic pressure check the cooling system and was told it was a blown head gasket. Based on that, I started asking around for estimates to perform the work. Funny thing is that when I started mentioning it to other shops, several told me that it is uncommon for these engines to have a blown head gasket. Besides a head gasket and water pump, what are the other possibilies that could causing the leak? Thank Don
    Previous owned cars:
    1972 VW Beetle
    1976 Plymouth Valiant
    1984 Ford Escort
    1987 Dodge Dakota Pickup 3.8 Liter
    1991 Ford Taurus Station Wagon 3.0 Liter
    1995 Ford (Breaking) Wind...Star Van 3.8 Liter
    2000 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.8 Liter Sport
    2000 Sable GL 3.0 Liter
    2004 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 3.8 Liter

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    There are actually a lot of coolant connections/seals. There are upper and lower radiator hoses, intake manifold gaskets, thermostat housing gaskets, etc. It could also possibly be a radiator that is leaking due to a fracture or road impact. One important tidbit of info would be where the puddle is after left overnight. Directly under the center of the engine? To one side or the other? This would help pinpoint the source.
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    It is uncommon for that engine to have a blown head gasket, unless at one time you have overheated the engine.
    For example, driving in the middle of no where when the tubes going to rear heater core decide to rupture and lose coolant, keep driving with no coolant just to get home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twinster2 View Post
    I have a 2000 Grand Caravan with a 3.8 L engine that is leaking antifreeze externally from the front of the engine. I had a mechanic pressure check the cooling system and was told it was a blown head gasket. Based on that, I started asking around for estimates to perform the work. Funny thing is that when I started mentioning it to other shops, several told me that it is uncommon for these engines to have a blown head gasket. Besides a head gasket and water pump, what are the other possibilies that could causing the leak? Thank Don
    If it is coming from the passenger side of the engine, could also be the timing case cover. Mine had a AF leak in that area. Replaced the timing case seals and timing chain on my 2000, had 117K at the time. Nail down where it is coming from first, before proceeding.
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    Formerly had a great 1996 Caravan, 3.3
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    Bernard is correct in that head gasket leaks ARE NOT COMMON on these engines. Was the person who did the pressure check someone you know and trust? Not to say that it is not a head gasket leak, it is just that it is NOT COMMON.
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    Thanks for everyones comments. Before I proceed, I'm having it checked by another garage. It could be a head gasket leak, but it would be an "uncommon" event. I will post the findings in the near future.
    Previous owned cars:
    1972 VW Beetle
    1976 Plymouth Valiant
    1984 Ford Escort
    1987 Dodge Dakota Pickup 3.8 Liter
    1991 Ford Taurus Station Wagon 3.0 Liter
    1995 Ford (Breaking) Wind...Star Van 3.8 Liter
    2000 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.8 Liter Sport
    2000 Sable GL 3.0 Liter
    2004 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 3.8 Liter

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    Also, is there any smell in the cabin? Possible the heater core and leaking out the vent tube... unlikely, but just checking off possibilities...
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    Smile

    I just had my t&c in the shop for a tranny flush and the mechanic mentioned
    smelling AF from my engine. I too have smelled it but could not locate the leak. The mechanic said the most common areas of leakage are hoses, water pump and timing cover. He could not find the leak either.

    If you do have a head gasket leak, a compression test on each cylinder should show it. Also, you may notice white exhaust coming from the rear as AF gets into the combustion chamber. With a head gasket leak, you can also see foamy AF when you take the radiator cap off to inspect the level(provided you have a cap). The foam is caused by combustion gases blowing into the water jacket of the block. Many times a leak in this area causes overheating of the engine at highway speeds. Lets hope, for your sake, its not a head gasket...expensive to fix.

    Let us know what you do find.

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    Well, it's official. My 3.8L has a head gasket leaking. Second garage confirm that AF was leaking on the back side of the engine. To make matters worse, I was told (and I saw for myself) that the radiator is also going to ****. About 2/3 of the heat transfer fins on the radiator were going. So there goes about $2K for head gaskets, a radiator, a set of plugs/wires, water pump and transmission hoses (yes, they were also leaking). I hope it holds together for four more years.
    Previous owned cars:
    1972 VW Beetle
    1976 Plymouth Valiant
    1984 Ford Escort
    1987 Dodge Dakota Pickup 3.8 Liter
    1991 Ford Taurus Station Wagon 3.0 Liter
    1995 Ford (Breaking) Wind...Star Van 3.8 Liter
    2000 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.8 Liter Sport
    2000 Sable GL 3.0 Liter
    2004 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 3.8 Liter

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    Quote Originally Posted by twinster2 View Post
    So there goes about $2K for head gaskets, a radiator, a set of plugs/wires, water pump and transmission hoses (yes, they were also leaking). I hope it holds together for four more years.

    Man!!! I'm glad I don't live in Michigan, especially if prices are that high up there. It would pay you to bring your van to Tennessee to get it worked on! You could get all that done and not cost you no where near $2K!!! They must be giving you a price for rebuilding your engine while they're at it.

    How many miles on that 2004 3.8? Radiators don't usually go out that fast! 3 years old and already deteriating that bad?

    Ron
    Last edited by ronmar1; 01-22-2007 at 01:11 AM.

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