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No sign of leaks, no overheating. Have replaced the thermostat recently. Radiator was dry. Have added approx 7 quarts 50/50 coolant yet it appears it can hold more like a bottomless pit. Anybody?

2000 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
 

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Sorry if I'm confused, but have you added directly to the radiator through the radiator cap?
or just the reservoir bottle?

In other words, wait for the engine to completely cool down, take the radiator cap off, fill the radiator with 50/50 coolant until it starts to almost overflow.
Put the cap back on, then fill up the reservoir to the minimum level line on the plastic bottle.

Run the engine for about 20 minutes. Turn it off, let it cool down again, and take the radiator cap off to look at what level the coolant is at

If the coolant is up at the top of the neck of the radiator and your reservoir tank is still at minimum or even maximum, you're good to go. I have had leaks before that are hidden because the frame of the car or Another Part might be underneath where the coolant is leaking from (like the water pump) and so it's catching all the coolant and burning it off before it ever hits the ground so you don't see any coolant on the pavement below you, but I would expect you would smell it burning off.

let me know what happens
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sorry if I'm confused, but have you added directly to the radiator through the radiator cap?
or just the reservoir bottle?

In other words, wait for the engine to completely cool down, take the radiator cap off, fill the radiator with 50/50 coolant until it starts to almost overflow.
Put the cap back on, then fill up the reservoir to the minimum level line on the plastic bottle.

Run the engine for about 20 minutes. Turn it off, let it cool down again, and take the radiator cap off to look at what level the coolant is at

If the coolant is up at the top of the neck of the radiator and your reservoir tank is still at minimum or even maximum, you're good to go. I have had leaks before that are hidden because the frame of the car or Another Part might be underneath where the coolant is leaking from (like the water pump) and so it's catching all the coolant and burning it off before it ever hits the ground so you don't see any coolant on the pavement below you, but I would expect you would smell it burning off.

let me know what happens
Thanks for the advice i will follow your guidance.

Yes, a week ago when the thermostat was replaced we filled up the radiator at the cap and replaced that cap with a new one. The overflow never did rise but we did add approx. 6 quarts... A 1 gallon plus approx 1/2 of a 2nd 1 gallon bottle or jug. Then yesterday i added approx another quart but this time to the overflow reservoir while cold and it did appear to rise at all.

The coolant is so pale that it can't really be seen through the plastic even when cleaned. Can't really see the actual level looking down the opening either, yes i see the coolant but can't tell where it is on the side of plastic reservoir.
 

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It is hard to tell the coolant level in an older vehicle. Try back-lighting the reservoir with a strong lamp. After changing the T-stat, you may have a lot of air in the system to work thru, so just keep filling the radiator and/or reservoir. In my 2 minivans, the radiator seems to run with a level ~2" below the top. If I had more, it just winds up on the reservoir, so that level seems "correct".
 

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Radiators running 2 or 3 inches below the top is common, in my experience.

The 3.3L engine shouldn't have any problem with bleeding out air, Just level it off a couple of times.

Any white smoke coming out your exhaust?

Clean the side of the plastic reservoir as much as you can, using solvent. Shake the vehicle to see the coolant moving. A light, as already mentioned, will help too. There is a min and max reading on the reservoir.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Radiators running 2 or 3 inches below the top is common, in my experience.

The 3.3L engine shouldn't have any problem with bleeding out air, Just level it off a couple of times.

Any white smoke coming out your exhaust?

Clean the side of the plastic reservoir as much as you can, using solvent. Shake the vehicle to see the coolant moving. A light, as already mentioned, will help too. There is a min and max reading on the reservoir.
No white smoke noticed from exhaust noticed.

Thanks for the information. i topped it off again at the radiator, well down a couple of inches from over the coil. Need to drive it some then check again as well as add in the reservoir if it still hasn't come up. i'm retired and don't use the vehicle much... 15 to 50 miles in any given week, so no rush on needing it fast for heavy freeway driving.
 

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You may have a small fine spray somewhere, that somewhere's likely location being at the plastic ends/tanks for the radiator. If not already done, a container of Bar's Stop Leak could work wonders.

How old is the radiator? Listen carefully for sissing/hissing noise after you turn the hot engine off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bar's Stop Leak could work wonders.
How old is the radiator? Listen carefully for sissing/hissing noise after you turn the hot engine off.
Thanks for the good tips and yes Bar's is always an option and likely will need it if the coolant keeps disappearing without a trace.
The van is 21 yrs old a 2000 model (so assuming the radiator is too) i bought in 2010... Paid under $4K for it back then in SoCal. Had the oil changed the other day with Mobil 1, it had been awhile.

Now it appears the heat/AC blower motor "resistor block" has crapped out as fan only works on High which is the one setting that doesn't have a resistor coil out of all speeds. Have one ordered and read it is a PITA to remove and replace... Another project down the road nothing pressing.
 

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It is hard to tell the coolant level in an older vehicle. Try back-lighting the reservoir with a strong lamp. After changing the T-stat, you may have a lot of air in the system to work thru, so just keep filling the radiator and/or reservoir. In my 2 minivans, the radiator seems to run with a level ~2" below the top. If I had more, it just winds up on the reservoir, so that level seems "correct".
I couldn't have said this better myself bill. I wanted to reinforce that backlighting the reservoir is very important. If you front light it, it's difficult to see because of all the refraction of the light. Looking at it from the front but shining a bright flashlight to the back gives you an excellent view of the coolant level!
excellent call

Also if the leak is small or underneath the body on its way to the rear heater core, it can be easy to miss. A good way to catch this is by renting a testing tool which will pump up pressure in the system without having to have the engine running so you'll be able to hear leaks much better. You can rent these free at AutoZone or probably any auto parts store
 

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Had a similar problem. Kept having to add coolant every so often. Spent several hours poking around looking for a leak (Paper left under whole engine compartment over night, checked exhaust for vapor, checked hose from radiator cap to the overflow tank, etc.) Finally took a closer look at the radiator cap and noticed that the rubber gaskets had spider webbed from age. Went to parts store to get a replacement. The guy at the counter mentioned that the cap is often the most overlooked reason for loosing coolant, yet it is a common reason and an easy fix. Should be checked often.
 
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