Question about Dodge Caravan

2 Answers

I have a 91 Dodge Caravan LE 3.3 liter V6 engine, The long story on what problems I have had with this car is as follows. The first thing that happened was I had a fusable ling burn out on the van, this I found was connected with the Cooling fan, the bearing went out on the fan causing the fan to draw excessive current burning out the fusible link. This also had caused the alternator to burn up. The problem was not known till I made a short trip back in April, and on this trip the van over heated when driving slow in town, it blew the bottom rad hose, this was replaced and then later when ideling at my cabin it overheated again and blew a chunk out of the radiator. I now had replaced the radiator and both hoses, also had repaired the fusible link, replaced the alternator and replaced the fan assembly. This seemed to work for awhile, but then later found the van was still overheating when ideling, and found the new fan was not working, got it replaced with a new one under warenty, now it still is overheating. This morning on my way in to work, the faster I went the quicker it started to overheat, I pulled over and opened the hood, I found that the fan was working and while ideling the temp was staying at a reasonable level. I had to keep a close eye on the temp gauge the rest of the drive into work and finally after getting on the highway and increased my speed slowly it seem to have stablized and did not overheat the rest of the way in, but when stopped and ideling the temp does still get up into the hot range causing the check gauges lite to come on. I am thinking that the thermostat may be bad and not opening up properly or the relay may have an intermitant problem or the temp sensor may be bad, what is the best method to check each of these items? I am really hoping it is not the head gasket, but so far have had no real indication that this is the problem, but have not thoughly checked it out to rule it out completely.

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  • Black Dawg Jul 28, 2010

    Still looking for advise, not been getting any usable information from the other tech.

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  • Master
  • 2,272 Answers

For first check the coolant level.If its low then it must be made full.If its full then check out for any kind of coolant leak.If the coolant is low or getting leaked from somewhere then the car will overheat.So get the ac pressure test done.At any local car garage they do ac pressure test.Doing this test will let you know that there is coolant leak or not.If there is coolant leak then that leak is the cause of overheat.But if there is no coolant leak and coolant level is also full.Then ignore coolant cause for overheat.Then other cause may be the thermostat ,thermostat allows coolant to circulate when the engine is warmed up and should be closed when the engine is cold so that the car can warm up faster. It's a fairly inexpensive part that's replaced easily, but when it fails, your car can overheat, causing costly engine damage.
To check if thermostat is faulty try this procedure:--
Warm up the car but don't let it overheat--don't let the thermostat gauge go into the red.Turn off the engine.Open the hood.Find the upper radiator hose. It's black, is made of rubber and is about 2 inches in diameter, with metal clamps on either end. The upper hose goes into the top of the radiator.Locate the lower radiator hose. It looks similar to the upper hose except that it attaches to the bottom part of the radiator.Touch each hose very carefully (they can be extremely hot). If the temperature gauge is indicating that the engine is warmed up but one hose is hot and the other is cold, the thermostat is probably stuck closed, and the coolant isn't circulating through the radiator.the thermostat is faulty is the case. If the thermostat checks out ok then it can be faulty temp sensor.Its also called coolant temperature sensor. The coolant temperature sensor is a thermistor ( a resistor which varies the value of its voltage output in accordance with temperature changes. ). The change in the resistance values will directly affect the voltage signal from the water thermosensor. As the sensor temperature decreases, the resistance values will increase. As the sensor temperature increases, the resistance values will decrease.
The coolant temperature sensor lets the engine control computer know what the engine temperature is by gathering information from the engine coolant temperature.
There are several ways to know if the coolant temperature sensor is malfunctioning, if the sensor is bad it will trigger a trouble code and the check engine light in the dashboard will come on, you can retrieve the engine code and see if it is related to the coolant temperature sensor, even if the engine control computer doesn't store a trouble code, there is another way to suspect a bad coolant temperature sensor : If your vehicle starts using more fuel than usual, starts having trouble starting when the engine reaches normal operating temperature or you notice black smoke coming out from the exhaust tail pipe, it is very likely that these symptoms are related to a bad coolant temperature sensor. A thermostat that is stuck closed will cause the engine to overheat. To test if thermostat is stuck in the closed position, place the thermostat in boiling water. If the thermostat doesn’t open, than the thermostat is defective and needs to be replaced.
Check the Engine Coolant Fan
Since the cooling fan pushes air through the radiator to cool the coolant, a fan that’s not working properly will cause an overheat condition.

  1. Electric Fan – If the vehicle is equipped with an electric cooling fan, check to see if the fan is working properly. Most electric fans will only operate when the coolant temperature reaches a certain degree. In many vehicles when the air conditioner is turned on, the electric fan automatically turns on. The most common cause of an electric fan failure is the fan motor, a controller module or a relay.
  2. Engine Driven Fans – Some vehicle have cooling fan driven off the front of the engine. If the clutch (between the fan and the engine) is bad it may slip. If the clutch slips it may not allow enough rotation on the fan to be affective and the clutch needs to be replaced.
Thanks. Keep updated for any more query. You can rate this solution and show your appreciation.

Posted on Jul 28, 2010

  • Black Dawg Jul 28, 2010

    Well your information is good generic information regarding an overheating problem, however either you have not read all the information I discussed with the other tech, or you are just taking me as a moron and unwilling or unable to give true knowledgable information relating to the problem I was having with my vehicle. However I have now recieved the information I needed from another tech on another site. My problem was an electrical problem which was a result of the original fan bearing going out, it had caused the fusible link to burn and my splicing it without tieing into the other side of the link was causing excessive current flow which was burning up the fan motors on the new fan I got to replace the original one.

  • Black Dawg Aug 03, 2010

    Well I have finally resolved the issue. The problem with the fan working for a short time then burning up was due to a manufacturing defect in the after market fan assemblies. The plug connector on the new fans had the notched end reversed, when I hooked it up matching the notch on the fan assembly with the plug it was causing the fan to run in reverse. When driving down the highway with the fan in reverse it created drag on the moter causing it to burn up. The company I got the fan assemblies from has been notified of this problem and they have got the company to do a factory recall on the fan assemblies.

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  • Dodge Master
  • 22,326 Answers

Well its a 91 model which here in this time zone would have been scrapped a while back as we do have a yearly vehicle mechanical inspection ,but this overheating problem is most likely head gasket as they do tend to start to fail after ten years of age unless they are copper ,now what i would be inclined to check first is the thermostat ,renew it its cheap enough then take the water pump off and check the impeller as a lot of these pumps use a plastic impeller on a steel drive and they come loose causing the problems you describe ,but so then does a head gasket ,So make the decision do you spend more cash on an old banger or buy a newer vehicle

Posted on Jul 21, 2010

  • 6 more comments 
  • Black Dawg Jul 21, 2010

    I am not yet ready to believe the problem is a blown head gasket, for if this were the case, would I not have other symptoms? such as antifreeze in the oil and or oil in the antifreeze? I have none of these symptoms, what other method could be used to determine if it is a head gasket? I did purchase this vehicle used from an individule last year and the car did show signs that it was well cared for up till this time, the main problem it had when I purchased it was the BCM had shorted out causing the gauges to malfunction, including the speedometer/odometer, and not sure how long it had this problem before I got it but was able to fix the problem by replacing the BCM with another used one from my first 91 Caravan that the engine throgh a rod on. I put at least 200 miles on the van before I was able to fix the BCM problem, and the van did have about 150,000 miles on it when I got it and now has just over 200,000. The van is still in good condition otherwise, has been rather well maintained throughout its life.

  • Colin Stickland
    Colin Stickland Jul 21, 2010

    not all head gasket symptons are the classic type of cause/syndrome you describe ,i think i have seen all types of failure then something new comes along but its not unusual for a gasket to push pressure into teh cooling system without oil in this water in that ,the combustion ring can hold but if the head water jacket is corroded out then the lack of metal around the water passage is easily pressurised without any loss of anything,Then their is a split head -then the crack ect ect the list is endless but their is always something new waiting to surprise me as new materials are being introduced all the time. Well it is nearly 20 yrs old so a nice head overhaul hopefully will keep it going another 20yrs

  • Black Dawg Jul 26, 2010

    After checking the fan again over the weekend I have found that this new fan now also has been burnt, upon disassembling the fan moter I found that the solder connection for one of the brushes melted and the other brush had melted partly causing it to stick and not keep pressure against the armature. So whatever the problem is, it is definatly an electrical issue. It seems the fan is drawing too much current when coming on and it is burning up the fan moter. So I am still needing information on checking the fan relay, voltage regulator and other electrical connections for this vehicle. Would like to know where I can get a copy of the "shop" wiring diagrams for this van, for a reasonable price?

  • Colin Stickland
    Colin Stickland Jul 26, 2010

    sorry still not sure here ,i think the fan is working overtime ,best advice i can think of here is that the alternator could be producing too many volts?? might be worthwhile to check it but was this a new fan motor or a secondhand one from scrapyard --

  • Black Dawg Jul 27, 2010

    The fan does not run long enough to be working overtime as you say, It is an electrical issue that needs resolved. I did check last night and found that the fan for the A/C does still work and with the cooling fan removed I just checked the voltage at the connector that plugs into the fan and the voltage I measured with the engine hot enough for the fan to come on was reading 13.9 volts. I am not sure if this is normal reading or if the reading should be lower.

  • Black Dawg Jul 27, 2010

    Also the fan was replaced with a new after market fan assembly, twice, as was mentioned that when the first one I got failed I got a warrenty replacement for it. Also if the problem was from the alternator, then would it not cause problems with other circuits as well? The alternator I have on the vehicle now is a used one from off my old 91 caravan that through a rod, but it does seem to be working for everything else on the car, and plus as was mentioned, I had been told and also is stated in the Haynes manuel I have for this car that the voltage regulator is located on the PCM. So if there is a problem with too much voltage would it not be the voltage regulator causing the problem? I have in previous posts ask for information on how to procede with troubleshooting this problem, yet I still have not been given any advice on this. How would I check to see if the voltage regulator is working properly? How would I check to see if this fan relay is functioning properly? Where can I find this fan relay on this model of car? Seems the only advice I am getting from you is to just scrap the van and get a newer one, perhaps because you are not knowledable enough to know how to resolve this issue.

  • Black Dawg Aug 03, 2010

    Well I have finally resolved the issue. The problem with the fan working for a short time then burning up was due to a manufacturing defect in the after market fan assemblies. The plug connector on the new fans had the notched end reversed, when I hooked it up matching the notch on the fan assembly with the plug it was causing the fan to run in reverse. When driving down the highway with the fan in reverse it created drag on the moter causing it to burn up. The company I got the fan assemblies from has been notified of this problem and they have got the company to do a factory recall on the fan assemblies.

  • Colin Stickland
    Colin Stickland Aug 03, 2010

    well i never ,now thats what i call persistance and the best of british to you ,I must say i have never had a problem like this before though with after market spares although what i buy from the auto factor is normally bosch or valeo which make the originals sometimes i get magnet marreli ,but when i buy spares that i think may have been made in china i just refuse then like champion plugs ,only bosch or NGK and a french make i cannot remember at the moment ,well its past my bed time in this time zone so iam glad you found the problem .thinking about it i have seen this before where someone got a fan from scrapyard and cut the plugs off and used a wiring connector ,in reverse but i cannot remember much about it ,only noticed it when my ciggy smoke blew back in my face ,must give the cigs up one day

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