1st gen? 2nd gen? Pulling out my hair!! - DodgeIntrepid.Net Forums - Dodge Intrepid, Concorde, 300m and Eagle Vision chat
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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1st gen? 2nd gen? Pulling out my hair!!

My Wife and I share a 2002 Dodge Intrepid 2.7 that has been eating coolant/anti-freeze the past two weeks. We noticed our oil light was on over the past weekend and being over our regular oil change by close to 1,000 miles, we got it changed at a local Valvoline. They said our coolant was low so they topped it off for us too. Prior to getting there and being quite chilly this past Wednesday afternoon in Dover, DE when we put the heat on, it only blew cold air. We traveled for a bit and turned it on again at which time it got warmer but only for a short while until it blew cold again. When the oil change was completed, we turned on the heat once more and figured that the coolant was the reason for the heat to not work. We thought it was strange but dismissed it. Car was fine after that however, when the oil is bad and we are at a stop light (in recent events) the oil light will flicker until we put it in neutral to take the load off the engine and it goes away once we are driving again. This past Friday while going to work (about 25 miles away) I got 3/4 of the way there and noticed that the oil light wasn't flickering, but it was STEADY! I pulled over, checked the oil thinking the people at Valvoline dropped the ball but we've been going there for the past 8 years and they KNOW us!! Anti-freeze/coolant level was between min and max so we were befuddled as we had our usual screaming match on the phone. I popped open the cap slowly and the level shot up to above the max line so I figured it was good to go. I tightened the cap again and went on my way. I got to work, turned off the car and forgot about it. Quitting time, started up no problems until half way home the oil light came on but slowly dimmed away the more I drove it but the temperature gauge was slow to come up even though I drove it for 5 miles after leaving work before it started to jump up. My Wife went to work today with no problems but on the way back home she stopped at the Valvoline to top off the fluids (thankfully they do that free of charge whenever you need it) and the reservoir was low again. They topped it off and sent her on her way. We went to the grocery store only TWO miles away and when we got back the level was below min again! Topped it off YET AGAIN and left it for tomorrow. Looking online, EVERYONE has an opinion about what the cause could be. There are no cracks or holes in any of the tubes, pipes or hoses to and from the reservoir, none in the tank itself and from what we read, our greatest fear is that it is sucking the fluid and dumping it into the engine block/oil but when we check the oil, there is only oil! It looks and smells like it, and being an ex-firefighter I know what burning antifreeze smells like (used to use it in fire simulations to create smoke) and I can safely say there is NO white smoke coming from any part of the car and the car is not overheating like some forum posters claim happen to them either. If this is NOT the case, what is the problem here? My Wife and I CANNOT afford to shell out hundreds of dollars for a repair like this, nor do we have the time, patience and or skills to do it ourselves. How do we stop the coolant from getting into the engine if this IS what is happening? HOW does it get in there anyway? Isn't it SUPPOSED to go to the radiator to keep it cool? I sincerely request a straight answer as we are both quite inexperienced in these areas and again simply cannot afford the run around "oh I think its this" or "you may want to check this". Someone out there knows, someone out there has had this experience and we need resolution. If we just keep dumping more and more coolant into the tank, what's the outcome? Does the engine cease? How long do we have? How do we fix this with as LITTLE as money POSSIBLE?! Thank you in advance for your replies, knowledge and your understanding.
Steve RG
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:41 AM
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Aside from the look and smell of the oil, is the oil level correct or high?
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Yes BH, its smack dab where it should be; in the middle of min and max...the oil dipstick I mean.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:46 AM
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Btw, breaking this up into paragraphs would make this much easier to read.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, sorry about that...I typed it out fast because I wanted to get it out online and I also copied and pasted it from another car shop talk forum before coming here. Again, sorry.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:02 AM
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At this point I would say to take a good look around checking for leaks. At the rate it's leaking, it should be noticeable. The most likely places for coolant to leak are out past the weep hole located on the drivers side of the engine right by where the lower radiator hose connects, directly into the oil (you said the level wasn't high), leaking from the radiator, from the coolant reservoir (again, you said you've checked this), from the bleeder housing on top of the engine, from the hoses or heater return tube, or from the heater core. I think that pretty much lists it out from most common to least.

I do have to question the oil level though. It should have been filled to the max line, not halfway between. Makes me wonder how much they really put in.

Search for the leak and go from there. The oil light coming on. . . . Better hope that's a coincidence. The pressure switches are known to go bad, but when accompanying a coolant leak there's a good chance that coolant is or was in the oil and ruined the bearings.

Last edited by bh1992; 11-15-2015 at 01:08 AM.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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I will look more thoroughly for leaks and so on but in the event I find none as we have no sign of such in garage or driveway and coolant DID make its way into the engine/oil how can we prevent further damage and correct this problem from getting bigger? What of the bearings being ruined and how can we save them from killing the engine?
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 03:56 AM Thread Starter
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Also I apologize for the mix up but the oil WAS at the max level last time I saw it 12 hrs ago.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bh1992 View Post
...leaking from the radiator,...
Check for vertical crack in one of the plastic side tanks - usually on the rearward side of the passenger side one, but not always - can leak fast enough to cause problems, but slow enough to evaporate so you don't find a puddle anywhere - until it splits wide open.

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...from the coolant reservoir...
The heat- and time-aged plastic develops micro-cracks so it becomes porous, and, like the radiator can leak enough to cause problems, but slow enough that it evaporates so no wet evidence remains (but you might fine dried residue).

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...from the bleeder housing on top of the engine...
Look for dried residue.

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...from the heater core...
Check for wet carpet.

Quote:
...Quitting time, started up no problems...the temperature gauge was slow to come up even though I drove it for 5 miles after leaving work before it started to jump up...
I know from personal experience with my 2.7 (when the radiator side tank had been leaking and then suddenly split, dumping all the coolant without my realizing) that if the coolant gets below a certain point (below the temp. sensor), the engine temp. gage will be slow reading until it warms up and expands enough to reach the level of the sensor or the t-stat opens and the coolant circulates - not sure which, and if it gets low enough to not reach the sensor when expanded and also not circulate, the gage will read very low or not at all, while the engine is of course actually overheating. Not saying this is the case with yours, but consider it.


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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 09:15 AM
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1st gen? 2nd gen?...
'98 - '04 is 2nd gen.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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No leaks or cracks that I can see, hear or smell with engine running nor is there a passenger side tank that I know of either. No dried residue from top of engine, carpets is dry, hoses are not cracked as far as I can tell either. Opening the oil cap again to check the level and it wasfull BUT there WAS a mucus like yellow residue inside the cap; like a sinus infection tilton of consistency. Is THIS coolant getting in the engine via water pump? Why did they not say anything at Valvoline about this? We are gonna make an appointment to get a pressure check REAL soon and see what is next unless anyone else can help us ( more so than you hav already, thanks) in figuring out what is going on here. What could this TRULY be?
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 07:28 PM
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The yellowish sludge on the bottom side of the oil cap is a sign of at least some coolant getting in the oil. What it does not tell you is if it was a small amount of coolant that allowed that residue to build up over time and was never cleaned out or whether it all formed recently. In either case, the waterpump is leaking to some degree. With your work being 25 miles away, I do see it being possible for the coolant to boil out of the oil and leaving the oil level relatively close to normal.

If you're not finding any external leaks, then this may be the case.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Okay that being said, some of the coolant being boiled off, what would you say would be the MINIMUM amount of time we have left ? I have two days that I must work before we can get the pressure test. How much longer is it safe to drive?
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 09:44 PM
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If the coolant was enough to cause the oil pressure light coming on, then the damage would already been done. Otherwise if the pressure switch is just going bad (I have some doubts in this case), then it's still a crap shoot without knowing for sure where the leak is at.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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Oh sh*t!! We are praying that the engine will not cease up while driving as some horror stories we reason as I stated I still have two more days of work, 100 more miles to go. Is this a push until the test we get on Wednesday or should we be okay?
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