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Chrysler Town & Country overheating

hp3hp3 Posts: 2
My engine temp will rise to High at random times requiring me to run the heater on high to get the engine cooled down. Using the A/C seems to accelerate the overheating, but it happens without the A/c on as well and it happens randomly. Parts store said might be a cooling fan problem or cooling fan sensor issue. I don't think the cooling fan was running when it was overheating (couldn't hear it), but it was at night and I couldn't see in that area.

No coolant leaks, coolant level is adequate, cap appears fine - no leaks - and there's heat coming out of heater so I believe the thermostat seems ok. Does anyone know what the issue might be or how I'd troubleshoot it or fix it?


  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    What year?

    Does it over heat in cooler temps.?

    1) Check the fuses for the cooling fans.

    2) When you see the temperature gauge going up to hot. Pull over, open the hood and see if the cooling fan is going. (If not, it might be the coolant temp. sensor.)

    3) With the van running in Park, at idle speed, turn on the AC and see if the cooling fans are running. (Both fans should run all the time when using the AC.)

    4) Make sure there is nothing blocking the flow of air through the cooling coils in the radiator. Sometimes you might have to run the garden hose over the cooling coils to rinse away all dirt and lent build up.

    5) You can check the top radiator hose when the van is cold, to see if the thermostat is opening up and not stock closed. When you first start the van, let it run in Park at idle. As you see the temp. gauge going up, feel the top radiator hose to see if it is getting warm/hot. If it is still cold, then the thermostat has not opened yet to allow the coolant to flow thru the radiator to be cooled. If you see the temp. gauge going past the halfway point and the top hose is still on the cool side, it might be the thermostat :shades:
  • playtimeplaytime Posts: 12
    Masterpaul-I would like to compliment you on the great job you did of explaining in detail what could be a very serious problem and what this person should check for. But in explaining what to check you did so in such a manner anyone should be able to understand "keep up the great work of helping others" I agree totally with everything you suggested. This forum is very fortunate to have your knowledge and expertise. Thank You - Jack- playtime
  • I just had an overheating problem that resulted in ruining the motor. The rear heater tubes rusted out, ran the coolant out of the sysytem and the engine seized. Has anyone else had this issue? I have been told by two garages that this is a "normal" problem with this model. I am looking at a $3000 bill for new motor and heater tubes. My van has 117,000. Do I put the money into it and then have the transmission go or something else.
    Has anyone had transmission problems with this model (2002 T & C)
  • jgianinojgianino Posts: 4
    My 1999 Chrysler T&C overheated earlier today. First I smelled anti-freeze then a few minutes later the temp went to HOT. The alarm came on them the fast beep followed. There was no heat coming out of the vents when I tried to turn the heat on full. My wife arrived with bottle of anti-freeze and water. I filled the radiator which was empty. I drove home barely making it before the heat went to HOT once again. What do you think the problem it. Radiator hose?, Themostat? or something else? Thanks, JTG
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    Hard to say without seeing where it was leaking (spraying!) out, so it is probably worth your while to fill it up (with water... a little more environmentally friendly!) and let it run out again. Sounds like a hose split, a clamp failed, or maybe a fitting cracked/broke.
  • jgianinojgianino Posts: 4
    xwesx - I took your advice and filled the radiator with water only. I ran the engine for 20 minutes. Temp guage never went past 1/2 way. Tried running heat on full and only cold air came out. Then I heard a click and the air warmed up a bit then went back to cold. All the time the temp guage stayed on 1/2. (warm). No apparent leaks coming from the undercarriage. ???????
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    Hmmm..... well, if you lost fluid the first two times, it must have gone somewhere. So, did you see white smoke out the exhaust? Are there any "wet" areas in the engine bay? On the engine or transmission? On the undercarriage?

    At this point I would recommend a full visual inspection of hoses, clamps, gaskets, radiator cap, and engine oil. "Wet" areas on hoses, clamps, radiator cap, or gaskets may point to the area of failure, though it may be something that currently requires higher-than-idle RPMs to manifest itself. Frothiness or coolant in the engine oil would point to a failed head gasket or cracked block, though I have not heard that to be a common occurrence in these engines.

    The on-and-off of the heater may point to a faulty thermostat. When your engine heats up and stabilizes at 1/2 on the guage, feel your upper radiator hose - it should be warm/hot to the touch. If it remains cold or goes warm then cold, then the thermostat is likely bad.

    Did your radiator's cooling fans come on at all while it was idling?

    If all of this yields nothing, you may need to add coolant to the system again and wait until it manifests once more. :(
  • jgianinojgianino Posts: 4
    No wetness that I could see. The only thing I'm recalling now when you mentioned RPM. Right before the initial smell of radiator fluid I was sitting in my son's school parking lot. He was in the back seat and when I was reaching to hand him a drink I push off what I thought was the floorboard but was actually the accelerator. I quickly realized what I had done and quickly removed my foot. I do not know how high the RPM's got but I am now concerned that I might have hurt the engine.
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    I have heard of this problem before with other vehicles. Do you live in an area where a lot of road salt is used during the winter months? If so, then after 4 or 5 winters this problem can readily occur. Washing the undercarriage of the vehicle on a regular basis is a good preventative maintenance measure. If you decide to keep the vehicle and replace the engine, then I would recommend changing the transmission fluid and filter. An overheat situation, also means the transmission fluid was not properly cooled and may be contaminated. Keeping the old tranny fluid may damage the transmission. Good luck.
  • jgianinojgianino Posts: 4
    Are you telling me that I cracked my block. If not what are you telling me. I let the car run for an hour today without overheating. I drove it around but I never revved the engine.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    This poster was responding to a different post.

    I am not sure I would consider a cracked block at this point. Did you check your engine oil for any contamination?

    It may be worthwhile to replace the thermostat just as a matter of caution, but the fact that the heater core goes cool leads me to think that it is a circulation issue and that means either: 1) thermostat, 2) water pump, or 3) blockage (air or debris).

    Any of these could cause intermittent problems unless one has completely failed.
  • hp3hp3 Posts: 2
    Thanks very much. The problem was the fan relay. I checked all suggestions above. After taking it to a shop, they decided it was either relay or temp sensor and changed relay first. The sensor is fine.

    The main tip-off: when it was overheating, the fans weren't running.... even when AC was turned on. Everything else was operating normally and there were no other inidcators such as cracked blocks, plugged thermonstats etc.
  • 785j3785j3 Posts: 1
    96 Town/country with overheating problems when pulling hills in 90 degree plus temp (any gear). New water pump. Radiator full, no leaks. Electric fans functional. Remedy is to pull over and allow the fans to cool off the water temp at idle. Radiator appears to be under-capacitied and incapable of keeping the engine cool. Hard to believe Chrysler didn't do a better job of building an adequate cooling system. Any ideas short of a larger radiator?
  • pyluypyluy Posts: 1
    My car is hot when trafic slowly but the radiator cooler fan no on. What I make to this problem?
  • kimbo1kimbo1 Posts: 8
    I have a 1998, same issue. There was a TSB on this, the dealer should replace the relay at no charge. You can find this information at Good luck, they've replaced mine six, yes, that's 6 times, 2 different Dodge dealerships and one independent mechanic review, in the 2 years that I have had this 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan! The relay keeps keeps shorting out, which overheats the van very, very quickly, last time I had to pay for the wiring plug that the recalled relay shorted out, and yes, you guessed it, my van sits at the Dodge dealership today, waiting, waiting, same problem. The last replacement was Nov. 2006, ten months ago.
  • kimbo1kimbo1 Posts: 8
    Below is the bulletin I found regarding my 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan. I have noticed that the Chrysler Town and Country has many of the same bulletins. Dodge has replaced my relay free of charge several times, but last time they charged me for the electrical plug that the relay burned out. It is now at Dodge again, in the shop, waiting, waiting,...I have had the van for 2 years. The first time it overheated, an independant mechanic replaced the thermastat and that did not stop the overheating. He ran a diagnostic and then he gave me the bulletin, so I went to Dodge dealer #1. In a period of a month or two, I visited then often and got new relays. This is my second trip to Dodge #2 for this since last Nov., wish me luck and I'll wish you luck!

  • chaz6chaz6 Posts: 3
    I have a 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LX MiniVan. It has nearly 160,000 miles on it. I live in Michigan where it gets cold and snows. Two weeks ago (end of January), the vehicle began having heating issues...

    Upon start up, the engine runs fine. The needle on the engine temperature gauage remains at the bottom, at "C" for at least 5 to 10 mins. Then it slow increases to the 1/4 mark. Then within 1 minute it shoots up the the 7/8 mark close to the "H". (The first few times this happened I shut off the vehicle). However, now I found that after another 5 minutes, the needle lowers back down to the "just below the 1/2 way" mark.

    At the same time, my cabin heat stopped functioning correctly. Related? Perhaps.

    I can't get any heat in the cabin unless I'm traveling at least 40 mph. Therefore while driving through town, there is not heat. On the highway, I have all the heat I want. However after slowing back down to below 40 mph, the vehicle begins blowing cold air again.

    Since I take my children to school in the morning, they are freezing the whole way. I don't dare turn on the heat since it only blows cold air, but instead I've given them blankets. After dropping them off, I hit the highway to get to work, and then I'm warm and toasty!

    Let me know what you think,

  • Have you checked the coolant level in the white overflow reservoir? You should see the coolant line at the minimum line, when the engine is cold and between the minimum and maximum line, when engine is warm. Also, look for visual leaks under the hood and on the ground, when the engine is at regular temp. When you are driving at a constant speed, does it over heat or is it just when driving around town? :)
  • I am having the same problem as the guy with the 2001 T&C. Engine keeps overheating at random times, and the inside heat only seems to work when I am giving the van gas... anyone have any insight on this? Are the two issues related?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    Sounds like you are getting an airlock. This may be due simply to low coolant levels, or it could be a water pump issue, or worse. Have you checked the level of your coolant? If it is low, park it on ramps or with nose-uphill, and slowly fill until all bubbles stop emanating from the radiator, then see if it helps.

    If it is the water pump, the lack of heat and the overheating will be simultaneous even though you are topped off on fluid. Without the water pump circulating the coolant, the heater core will go cold while the stuff in the engine boils (if hot enough!).
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