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.