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  #1  
Old 12/15/10, 11:54 AM
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Heater not working 100% - 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan

The heater in my Dodge Grand Caravan (2006) started being unreliable on Monday....usually by the time I hit the main road on my way to work I have to turn the heat down, but on Monday I noticed I was half way to work and still cold. I turned it up but it was blowing luke-warm air at best.

It seems if I run it later in the day the heat works better, still not 100% but I'm not freezing. Its when I turn it on first thing in the morning when its been off all night that I seem to have the problem.

The van isn't overheating - the temp gauge is fine.

Is this an easy fix, or am I looking at $$$ ? More importantly, is it something that I have to get fixed ASAP before it leads to engine damage, or can I just put up with it until I can get it into a shop to get it fixed?

Thanks!!

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  #2  
Old 12/15/10, 12:03 PM
 
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Check the coolant level. My Acura would heat like normal and the temp gauge was always in the same spot. Then all of a sudden it would blow cold air and the temp gauge stayed the same. I checked the coolant and it was low, radiator had a small crack. I replace the radiator four years ago and it's never happened since.

It could also be the valve that regulates the amount of coolant that runs through the heater. Is there still any warranty left on it?

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  #3  
Old 12/15/10, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unioncreek View Post
Check the coolant level.
That was going to be my first recommendation too.
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  #4  
Old 12/15/10, 12:59 PM
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I just had my radiator flushed and all the fluids replaced about a month ago..... could that have something to do with it?

If it is the coolant can I continue to drive the car without worrying about it doing damage to the engine/radiator?

It has 95,000 miles on it, no warranty remaining

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  #5  
Old 12/15/10, 02:06 PM
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If your radiator was not properly bled when it was refilled with coolant, you bet it could have something to do with the lack of heat. Coolant does not circulate properly if there is trapped air in the system.

Jack up the front of your van or park it on a steep incline. Then, check the coolant level. If it is low, add more coolant while the engine is running.

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  #6  
Old 12/15/10, 02:30 PM
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I think Cabin Fever hit the nail on the head, you are low on coolant. Do not open the cap while the car is hot, wait for it to cool down, especially if the radiator cap is on the radiator and not on the tank. With the car running, and hot, so the thermostate has opened, add coolant a little at a time till it is full. The coolant may swell once it is heated up and may want to boil over out of the radiator. At this point, you can put the cap back on. You may see some overflow from the Reservoir tank, after the car is jacked back down and level, but it should stop coming out once the cooling system reaches it normal operating level. Hope this helps, anyone can add to this or correct me if I am wrong. Later Travis

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Old 12/15/10, 02:54 PM
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I hate to give all girls a bad name.....but I know exactly zip about the inner workings of a car. How can I tell which cap is the coolant??

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Old 12/15/10, 02:55 PM
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It is usually the one on top of the radiator.

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  #9  
Old 12/15/10, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
It is usually the one on top of the radiator.
LOL

Okie dokie.... what does the radiator look like? When I say I know nothing about what my car looks like under the hood, I literally mean nothing.
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  #10  
Old 12/15/10, 03:02 PM
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Like this:



ETA - Usually have to push down a little on the radiator cap while you're turning it counter-clockwise. To re-install the cap, push down lightly and turn clockwise.

P.S. Don't check the coolant level in the radiator while the engine is hot. Just in case you didn't know that.

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Last edited by How Do I; 12/15/10 at 03:08 PM.
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  #11  
Old 12/15/10, 03:25 PM
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Look for a cap near the front left of the engine compartment that looks something like the examples below:


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Old 12/15/10, 03:40 PM
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Ah! Thank you, Cabin Fever and How Do I! I'll look under the hood this afternoon....

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  #13  
Old 12/16/10, 09:01 AM
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Round here we have had a pretty big cold spell, I had to slid a piece of cardboard over part of my radiator to get my temp up a little.

I normally don't see much of a difference until I see single digit temps.

If you do this, don't forget to remove it once it warms up outside...

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  #14  
Old 12/16/10, 12:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluemoonluck View Post
I just had my radiator flushed and all the fluids replaced about a month ago..... could that have something to do with it?

If it is the coolant can I continue to drive the car without worrying about it doing damage to the engine/radiator?

It has 95,000 miles on it, no warranty remaining
Always look to the last task performed for clues to the new problem. Most new vehicles are hard to fill and purge all of the air from the cooling system without the proper equipment. Most garages don't have the proper equipment. They also are usually in a hurry and don't let the vehicle go through a heatup and cool down cycle before returning it to the owner.
Read your owners manual for how to check coolant level and more importantly which coolant to use. There's also a good chance the shop didn't use the proper coolant which should be a GO-5 rated like Zerex gold or Mopar antifreeze. Won't do damage immediately but can cause problems over the long run.
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Old 12/16/10, 01:28 PM
 
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If you still have an owners manual the under hood pictures usually show the location. Should help you narrow down you search...

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  #16  
Old 12/16/10, 01:38 PM
 
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I would take it back to the shop that flushed your radiator and have them top off the coolant. Ask them to show you how to check the level.
This should be done for free since if they just recently did the flush.

Jim

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Old 12/16/10, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bunton View Post
I would take it back to the shop that flushed your radiator and have them top off the coolant. Ask them to show you how to check the level.
This should be done for free since if they just recently did the flush.

Jim
That's what my Dad recommended when I called him (he's across the country from me). Dare I admit that I had it done at Jiffy Lube?

I'm going to go back to them tomorrow afternoon, I can't get there today. Hopefully they can add more coolant and it will be all good. Its been 18 degrees in the mornings out here and not having heat really doesn't sparkle with me

Thanks again, guys. I had no idea what a car's radiator did until now!
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  #18  
Old 12/18/10, 09:02 PM
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Hey y'all, just wanted to let you know that it WAS my coolant...took over a gallon to bring it back up to the correct level.

THANK YOU!!! Y'all saved me a trip to a mechanic and probably a hundred bucks, the way my luck runs.....

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  #19  
Old 12/19/10, 01:33 PM
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hi

most newer vehicles have an reservoir that has a small hose running from the radiator to the reservoir that allows the expansion and contraction of the coolant to move back and forth in and out of it, you should be sure to fill it to the cold level when it is cold to help with proper operation.
Also if your radiator was low, there is a reason, it either leaked out somewhere., or, with a newer one like yours i would think it was the improper bleeding of the system when refilled after the flushing of the system. On some vehicles they require special steps when they have been drained to insure correct operation. If these steps are not followed it can cause damage to the engine. The engine could be very low on coolant and would not show hot, because the temperature sending unit must be submerged in fluid before it can read and send a signal. Therefore you can actually ruin an engine and burn it up by overheating just because it wasn't refilled and bled properly by someone flushing the system, most people wouldn't even have a clue that they were doing anything wrong because they are not mechanics, but rather oil changers and unaware, without any knowledge of some vehicles special coolant bleeding requirements to insure the system does not airlock and overheat without showing any overheating on the gages or idoit lights, er, warning lights.
you might be ahead to call an dealer and ask the service manager about your specific model, I'd think they would be helpful, but who knows. You should be able to do a couple searches online or go to a forum on your specific car. I've seen cars that weren't bled correct go on loosing fluid and getting hot without reading on the gages for months until bled properly which allowed the sending unit to be in water again and the thing could work properly again. very lucky the engine wasn't damaged by overheating, be aware the engine can be super hot and you wont get heat from the heater because it only heats when hot water from the radiator is running through the heater core that sends the heat into the cab, low water no heater no hot showing on the gage, but super hot engine. best wishes, ray

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Old 12/19/10, 04:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluemoonluck View Post
Hey y'all, just wanted to let you know that it WAS my coolant...took over a gallon to bring it back up to the correct level.

THANK YOU!!! Y'all saved me a trip to a mechanic and probably a hundred bucks, the way my luck runs.....
Did you have them make a repair order and document their screw up? Did you check to see what brand and spec antifreeze they installed? Did they check it to see what temperature protection it is good to, should be -34*. Thsi might not be over yet, be sure to check the coolant level in the tank after cool down. If they didn't let it go through a cycle it might still be low.

By the way this is a trip to the mechanic or many mechanics as some of us are certified techs.
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