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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 03:07 AM Thread Starter
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Frustration is mounting, so close yet not there!

I have a 01' intrepid that was a 2.7 that died, and now thanks to some persistense and daytreppers book, she lives......kinda. I had the car running about a month or more ago, but do to finally getting a new job after 11 months looking, i hadnt had any time to really take her on the road and get the bugs out of her. Ever since i did the conversion, she has been tight, not leaked any oil or antifreeze. Starts on first try , and now that i have over 100 miles on the replacement, the computer fianlly seems to be getting more out ot the drivetrain. There is a remarkable difference between the 2.7 and the 3.5, so much smoother, stronger, and midrange is real nice.
Finally, over the holiday, was able to rack some miles up on it, and was really getting my confidence built up to start driving it to work this week.


All was well, until i went back to the car wash, to power wash my floor mates. while there i added a can of r-134 to the ac and let her idle while i washed the mats. finally about 10 or 15 minutes later i was done, and lefft to so to big box store and get some upholstery cleaner. When i came out, there was antifreeze dumped all over the asphault under my car. Having visions of what it looked like when the 2.7 trashed out on me. i crawled under best i could and couldnt pin point a leaking spot. best i could tell, the coolant may have boiled out of the reservoir best i could tell. I tried to start her then, but would not fire. Waited about 10 minutes tried again, and she kicked right off and ran good going home. Once home didnt really notice any more leaks but decided to check things anyway. well found the cap was not sealing very good, and the pass side fan was toast. Today, went and got a junkyard fan, and new cap, and temp sending unit. the temp never got any higher than just a tick over the middle mark, so apparently not over heating. i checked the fam out installed it, found out the sending unit was wrong, so cleaned mine and reinstalled. and refilled system and after after a few minutes running, installed the new cap. It seemed like forever forthe fans to kick in, and they would not come on until temp was back to that middle line on the gauge. then the bad part came, i noticed coolant dripping from the area of the torque converter access plate. then noticed coolant comming from around the thermostat housing. trying to locate the rear leak, i couldnt see anything on top, so i took cowl and strut support off, thinking i might have a hose leaking or? Well, nothing, and the only thing i can figure it is leaking on the thermostat housing, and then running down the hose to the rear of engine and falling down. But i did not see any fluid up above teh starter where the coolant pipe rides.

I am frustrated, and cant afford to keep losing sleep over this thing, and i have been borrowing a car to use while this was down, but the folks are getting upset with me having the their car for so long. anybody got any ideas. i am nearly one hundred percent sure i put the stat in the correct way, and the rear leak still concerns me.

Any ideas at all.

thanks,

duke21
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 09:43 AM
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Check that short (3-4") piece of heater hose joining the t-stat housing to the metal pipe from the heater hose/pressure bottle plumbing. That could have a hole in it, or the ends aren't enough on the nipples or clamped properly (from the t-stat job?). If you are in a high rust area, someone (Kingspade IIRC) recently had a hole rust thru that metal pipe that that short piece of heater hose connects to.

Last edited by peva; 06-02-2010 at 09:55 AM.
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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Peva,

After getting whopping 3 hours sleep and now at work struggling to stay awake, i tend to agree with you. I dont really think ihave major issues, just need to check out that area. I am pretty confident the t-stat housing has to come off tonite. It did look to be leaking around the bottom of it, so will likely take that off and replace tstat and gasket again. while there i plan to check out that short hose and the metal pipe. I am still confused as to why i am leaking around t stat. i used the gasket with a bead of RTV around it as well. I wouldnt have thought it to leak.

is best way to get to t stat from bottom. it looks like if i take oil filter off, and maybe push lower radiator hose to the side, i can get some good room in there. that pipe and hose that goes behind the starter is a PITA.

any other food for thought is appreciatedl

thanks

duke21

I was supposed to help a friend block sand his 68 dodge RT tonite, but that may have to wait, i got to get this car dependable.
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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does anybody know whatt that hose from the tstat housing to the other pipe is called. I think i will replace it while down there. It is likely the only hose that i did not replace on the whole conversion.
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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 01:43 PM
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If I read the parts pdf's correctly, it comes with the metal pipe as one part number. But I can tell you that it is a straight piece of 3/4" heater hose - nothing special about it. Personally, whenever i replace heater hose, especially that might be hard to get too, I use silicone heater hose. The quality and longevity of the standard heater hose that the part stores sell is crap, while silicone heater hose will literally last the life of the car and then some. Places that service police cars and 18-wheelers use it routinely. NAPA carries it - possibly your local NAPA store has it to cut and sell by the foot. It is a bit expensive - on the order of $10/foot. Suggest to use the factory hose clamps. Some people don't like them, but actually they are the best kind because they are "self-tightening", unlike standard screw clamps which can start leaking if the hose rubber takes a set (shrinks under the clamp).


'98 LXi - Later Concorde gages (black w/ chrome rings)/'99 LX - LHS gages (white) - HIR bulbs

Last edited by peva; 06-02-2010 at 01:46 PM.
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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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well, been really busy as of last couple days, working lots of OT right now, i am on salary so i dont get paid for it, but after being off 11 months , i am thankful for a job. Had a bunch of honey dos to get done before i could get back on this car. I crawled all over the car tryiing track down the leaks and took the thermostat back off, and noticed what appeared to be a stain of coolant escaping between the block and the gasket on the stat. I bought an new stant thermostat, and felpro gasket, and cleaned up the stat housing looking for rust holes or cracks. so i installed teh stat with a little rtv around the gasket. put new hose clamps adn a new 3/4" hose from the stat to the heater tube. also removed what i thought was excess coolant in the tank. while i was under the car, i noticed a minor crack in the oil pan, so i did a steel expoxy job on that. I buttoned everything up and tested it out this evening. I bleed the air from the system and added coolant as per the haynes manual. as before, the car ran fine, and at idle took quite a while to get good and warm. typical running temp was just below the half mark. never got any warmer. I had no leaks and was feeling pretty good, THEN I heard what sounded like the thermostat opening up, and by feeling the hoses i would say it had. within a couple minutes the fans kicked in, and shortly there after all of my leaks reappeared again. I let it run for a few minutes while i tried to track down the leaks, and finally shut it off to take a better look. upon letting it cool, there was again, no leaks until i heard the thermostat open again and within a couple minutes had 3 leaks again at the same spots. Ready to scream, i crawled under while she was running and tried to trace leaks again. First leak was near thermostat again, and looking like coolant escaping under the housing about half way up on the radiator side. The second leak was on passenger side, and looked to be coming from just above tthe place where the dipstick tube goes into lover pan. best i could tell no seals or freeze plugs leaking nor noticeable cracks in the block. The third leak was again at the support plate for teh oil pan to transmission( i call it a torque converter access plate) I took the support off to get a better look see adn fired teh care up and waited till the stat popped again. after doing so, it was dropping coolant from what looked to be directly above the rear seal. it was diffenately in the joint between the trans and engine.

now everytime i let it cool off and start back up , she doesnt leak. everytime the fans come on and i hear the stat "pop" i have coolant leaks in all 3 places within minutes.


any possibliity the inner intake is cracked? what else could be causing this relationship between the stat opening and coolant dumping on the floor.

I am really in trouble on this , have been borrowing a car, and wont be able to continue doing so. the worries are affecting my productivity at work, and i am starting to think it was a big mistake to mess with this conversion.

I could really use some advice guys, i would really like to nail this down and move on.

thanks again,

duke 21
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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Just a reminder, i can drive the car, let it idle, etc and dont get any leaks anywhere i can see, until i get warm enough for the fans to come on which is approximately the same time that i usually hear what i think is the thermostat popping open.


I am really lost here guys, need some guideance, so i can get my daily transportation going here.

thanks so much,

duke21
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Sad Anybody got any ideas at all?

I know from reading all you guys' posts on here, that there are some pretty knowledgeable people around. I just cant believe i am dealing with something that nobody has experience with. I am usually darn good about being able to troubleshoot and repair, but this thing is kicking my arse. Not having torn down a 3.5 before, i dont know where to start looking, but i have to do something, i cant just sit on my thumb and hope it goes away.

I guess it is frustrating to know i can get it out and drive it with no repercussions, until i stop and idle or let it idle long term( talking 20 minutes or more) before she starts the spitting coolant ordeal. In a perfect world i would just live with it, but i am planning on traveling some in next few weeks including driving 100 miles each way several times next week to visit my mother when she has major surgery next week. also , have a 400 mile round trip coming up i would like to take with some peace of mind.

I just dont know what to do. I could really use some guidence, or even input of possible scenarios of why she doesnt leak until it sounds like the stat opening, then it seems to go nuts with all 3 leaks at once. I cannot picture what the thermostat opening up would have to do with several leaks at once. Theres gotta to be some good input from some of you guys out there. I know its not as glamourous to talk about a leaking engine, in lieu of a great paint job, stereo, or high performance part, but i sure would be grateful for some help.

thanks so much,

god bless,

duke21
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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 09:08 AM
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I'm stumped. I'm surprised that you can hear the thermostat opening. I don't think of that as a sudden event, but a gradual thing. I could be wrong. I hope you get it figured out.

The leak near the rear of the engine - is that possibly dripping down from the heater hose/pressure bottle plumbing having sprung a leak. I'd have to look at it as each leak being its own separate problem needing a new hose or gasket, but then, I'm not there.

Last edited by peva; 06-08-2010 at 09:23 AM.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 09:32 AM
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Just some random thoughts here... PEVA is right on with what he's saying, and I don't know the second gen 3.5 motors at all, but I know that Dodge has a knack for having LOTS of joints and short rubber hoses. Each of them is suspect, especially if you had a junk yard motor. One leak up high on the motor can run lots of places and you may just have a single leak that is spreading to three points.

Could the thermostat be installed backwards?

Did you properly bleed the system each time you've had a leak and refilled?

Did you repair the blown fan?

Do you have heat when you turn on the vents?

Did you test or replace the radiator cap?

Is the front of the radiator clean? (suggestion from another thread - Thanks Dan)

Last edited by cdmccul; 06-08-2010 at 09:38 AM.
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post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 11:03 AM
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From what you are describing, your leaks are pressure related. I've never heard a thermostat open. All is good until the thermostat opens, then pressure is building up (I think...) causing your leaks.

Do your leaks happen w/o the radiator cap? What about the coolant reservoir, aren't they are self bleeding?
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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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wow , i am grateful, somebodys talking, i was beginning to think i had been black listed. Anyhow, The radiator cap is replaced. i thoroughly cleaned the reservoir and the radiator while they where out. I flushed the heater core when engine was out. i flushed the block when engine was out. I have replaced every hose with the exception of the larger one from the bottom of reservoir to the metal tube. I have crawled all over that engine with cowl cover off and even had the radiator support off earlier when i installed the junkyard fan assy , which is working. I double checked the t stat when i installed it. I even put some rtv silicon around the t-stat gasket to help it seal. I dont see a drop coming from the hoses anywhere. The Reservoir has boiled over at the top escape hole, but i think i had the system overfilled. I have a new pressure relief cap. I cannot see fluid leaking down the sides of the block anywhere. The leak on the t-stat side appears to be coming from the gasket area, which i inspected for bad spots, and checked for warpage. The leak on the rear looks like it is coming from above the rear seal. It is not on outside of engine, but drips down in front of torque converter with the oilpan to trans support removed. The passenger side leak is dripping down below the dipstick tube where it mates to the oil pan, but cannot pin point where above it is coming out. I have had a mirror up there and cant seem to pinpoint it.

As far as the t-stat opening. the pellet and spring side are in the block as per the haynes manual. And as far as hearing it is concerned. my engine is not a rattle box, actually purty quiet, and when the engine is still cool the fans are not running , so wiht the radio turned down i diffenately am hearing a ping which seems to sound a lot like the old thermostats popping open when you test them on the stove with a pale of water. And the timing of the ping and the fans coming on and the leaks, all make me think i have an issue with pressure once the stat opens up. I have NO, again NO leaks anywhere until the PING and the Fans kick on.

I think i am going to drain the pan and check for coolant in the oil( none is showing on dipstick) and i dont feel i have a big trail of white smoke out of tailpipe.

I read somewhere where the water line that goes under the lower intake manifold can go bad or the seal fail, and i can see where possibly when the pressure builds up it would start to leak. But without knowing the inside of this engine a bit better, i dont know how the coolant would get from there to where it is leaking now.

I am just lost.

Thanks for all your help

duke21
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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 11:48 AM
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Bottom of the intake is a good thing to check, sounds like you have a loose or missing hose clamp. I had a pickle of a time finding a leak on one of mine once, turns out the factory clamp had lost strength, so I just put a wormgear clamp behind it, and torqued it down... problem solved. Mine, however, leaked with no pressure applied. The heater hoses on the fire wall have been troublesome for me in the past on other cars, and I think on the second gen they are really hidden from view - maybe remove the strut brace and intake hosing, and check for leaks there...
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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by cdmccul View Post
Bottom of the intake is a good thing to check, sounds like you have a loose or missing hose clamp. I had a pickle of a time finding a leak on one of mine once, turns out the factory clamp had lost strength, so I just put a wormgear clamp behind it, and torqued it down... problem solved. Mine, however, leaked with no pressure applied. The heater hoses on the fire wall have been troublesome for me in the past on other cars, and I think on the second gen they are really hidden from view - maybe remove the strut brace and intake hosing, and check for leaks there...
Agreed, and check the heater pipe underneath the lower intake where it mounts into the intake manifold. If the pipe has been jostled or bent, (very common when salvage yards are ripping the engines out of cars) often times it will distort the o-ring seal at the manifold and cause it to leak. Shine a flashlight down next to the upper radiator hose outlet on the intake manifold and see ifyou see coolant in the valley between the heads. If so, the pipe or O-ring is leaking.
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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 12:21 PM
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Also, can you rent a coolant pressure gauge from AA or AZ? I rented one three weeks ago, $100 deposit, return it, $100 back.

You might try pumping the pressure up to 18 PSI and hold it for 20 minutes or so with the engine OFF. As that pressure drops, you should see where the coolant is leaking from. The FSM states the pressure should not drop more than 2 PSI in 2 minutes while testing at 15 PSI. the FSM also states never to bring pressure above 20 PSI.
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