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Dodge Dakota Radiator and Cooling Problems

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  • I have coolant in the reservoir and coming out the overflow. Coolant is low in the engine and radiator. I have had the system pressure checked three times, replaced the supply and return hoses, thermostat, and cap. Thursday I had the system back flushed for the second time and coolant topped off and the reservoir filled the proper level. Today I checked the system and have no coolant in the supply hose and the reservoir is overflowing.
    Does anybody have any ideas? Please. Radiator or Pump which one is it cause that’s all that’s left.
  • Forgot to add that its a 2002 4.7 V8
  • Hey dusty
    I have the same problem with my dakota v-6 magnum. But I have radiator fluid leaking from what appears to be the housing for the thermostat. Could that be a freeze plug or is it probably the housing bolt rusted out? I appreciate your expertise!

    Bill
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Bill,

    My apologies but I've been away hunting and just got back yesterday.

    Since you do not mention the year, but refer to your engine as a "Magnum," I'm gpoing to assume you have a 3.9. If there is any leaking from the thermostate housing I suspect a hair line crack or it is badly warpped. Replacing the housing should solve your problem.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • I have the same issue...how did you make out...what was it.
  • heater barely blows warm air..never hot. have replaced thermostat, temp gauge reads same as before. coolant level always good, doesn't leek. any advice welcome.
  • I had the same problem on my 97 dakota. I read on here somewhere about a reverse flush of the heater core. If you look at a Haynes manual you will see two 3/8 hoses, one that flows into and one that flows out of your heater core. Notice the direction that it flows. (Mine flows from passenger to driver) Go to your local home garden center and pick up a replacement 3/8 female garden hose end. (This is so you can insert the 3/8 end in the radiator hose and the other end you can hook up to the garden hose.) Disconnect both radiator hoses at their first connection point before and after the heater core. Hook up the garden hose to the end of the radiator hose so that the flow is in the opposite direction that the coolant normally flows. (At this point I would recommend putting a bucket under the other side to catch all the liquid coming out.) Then just turn the garden on full blast for 5-10 mins. Then put everything back together again.

    I did this and it worked great. I went from having little to no heat on a cold morning to having to turn the heater down because it was too hot. It still takes the truck getting to norm operating temp to get the heater that hot, but it does work.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Omen
  • 1998 Dodge Dakota, 4-Cylinder, Stock

    I recently noticed that during the cooling cycles the car goes through from going to ~210 down to ~185 (when the radiator fan is on), a significant amount of steam (I think) is produced from the radiator. I initially noticed this when I turned off my car and got out to see steam coming from the grill. It is not enough to see when the car is moving, but if the radiator fan is turned on at a stop light, you can see steam coming out from under the hood. The engine never overheats!

    When I open the radiator cap, coolant is filled to the brim. The reservoir also indicates a sufficient amount of coolant. Oil level is slightly low, right on the "add" line.

    Is this something I should be worried about? Again, the engine doesn't overheat.

    Thank you.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    When you remove the radiator cap, is there adequate pressure?

    If there is around 13 pounds of pressure and there is no signs of coolant loss, either from the radiator or the coolant expansion tank, you are probably experiencing steam from the collection of moisture under the hood or possibly snow, if you live in a snow climate. I wouldn't worry about it, but would monitor the expansion tank for signs of coolant level change when cold.

    If there is little or no pressure released when the radiator cap is removed, the cap is likely defective. In this scenario the steam you see is probably hot coolant vapors being released. Over many cool down cycles you will notice coolant loss in the expansion tank. the fix is to replace the radiator cap.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • tommy97tommy97 Posts: 17
    I'd like to do a total cooling system flush on my '97 Dakota 2WD (V6/3.9L).

    Should I just following the basic procedure suggested by the Prestone flush kit, in which you add water to an in-line Tee (hose going to heater core inlet) and open drain at the bottom radiator, etc.?

    Or there a better way that requires - in addition - removal of one or more plugs in the engine block itself?

    Any thoughts are appreciated.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Tommy,

    For low pressure flow flushing, the engine block drain plugs do not need to be removed, however, they will need to be removed to completely drain the engine of coolant.

    If you are real fussy...or "anal" as my kids would say, you should use distilled water instead of tap water when replenishing the coolant. I know, this is not typically done, even at automotive repair centers and tap water is probably adequate for most vehicles within the expected lifetime of the cooling system parts. But tap water can contain minerals that may be corrosive to internal engine and cooling system parts. It depends, of course, on any particular water supply.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • tommy97tommy97 Posts: 17
    Thanks for your response, Dusty.

    Your point about distilled vs. tap water is well taken, and one I'm well aware of. Tap water, while not ideal, is most practical.

    When all's said & done, it sounds like the "upwelling" approach (forcing effluent up & out of the radiator fill port under pressure) is the best all-around way.

    As a side curiosity, regarding the radiator drain plug, if a guy wanted to open it, is there any easy way to do so? I looked a couple times and it seems to be well hidden and disguised. Is there a special "hat trick" involved to access it?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    The best way to access the radiator drain plug is to remove the lower fan shroud. This is the black plastic cover that is located directly below the radiator and hides the lower radiator hose. I think the plug is plastic on your '97. Be careful, they can be broken!

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • tommy97tommy97 Posts: 17
    Thanks again, Dusty. The fan shroud is probably a "bear" to remove but your idea is along the lines of what I was afraid I might have to do.

    On a final point, what was driving this whole thing was the sad circumstance in which a couple years ago I lost virtually all heating. My heater core is toast and this was no doubt due to my lame failure to ever flush my coolant. This even contributed to my water pump failing (bearings/seals) at about 8 years (57590 miles).

    So - what to do about the clogged heater core? I'm sure you know what's involved in removing it from the Dakota so let's not even go there. In exploring/searching/surfing the 'net, I stumbled onto what I believe may be the very next best thing:

    Thoro Flush by Irontite (Kwik-way):
    http://www.irontite.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_- id=4&zenid=1ca29354381138950675c2b8b7603f95

    According to its manufacturer, this industrial strength product has been successfully used on diesels and heavy duty trucks. The one-pint jar is actually a powder which is mixed on-site to the recommended specs (using very hot water). You then isolate the heater core by cutting/disconnecting the feeder hoses and circulating the Thoro Flush solution in a backflush direction for about 10 minutes or so. It's supposed to work miracles ...

    This, my friend, may be the only "solution" to this problem, short of the miserable task of removing the core from under the dash.

    What say you? Have you ever heard of/used Thoro Flush?
  • tommy97tommy97 Posts: 17
    A couple years ago I lost virtually all heating. My heater core is toast and this was no doubt due to my lame failure to ever flush my coolant. This even contributed to my water pump failing (bearings/seals) at about 8 years (57590 miles).

    So - what to do about the clogged heater core? I'm sure many of you know what's involved in removing it from the Dakota so let's not even go there. In exploring/searching/surfing the 'net, I stumbled onto what I believe may be the very next best thing:

    Thoro Flush by Irontite (Kwik-way):
    http://www.irontite.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=4&zen- id=1ca29354381138950675c2b8b7603f95

    According to its manufacturer, this industrial strength product has been successfully used on diesels and heavy duty trucks. The one-pint jar is actually a powder which is mixed on-site to the recommended specs (using very hot water). You then isolate the heater core by cutting/disconnecting the feeder hoses and - with the heater turned ON - circulating the Thoro Flush solution in a back flush direction for about 10 minutes or so. It's supposed to work miracles ...

    This may be the only "solution" to this problem, short of the miserable task of removing the core from under the dash.

    Has anyone ever heard of/used Thoro Flush?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    No, I've not heard of the product. However, the industry has used other cleaning-type products for a long time.

    I worked in a radiator shop for a year and we typically backflushed heater cores and entire systems without using a chemical additive with good success. Occasionally some vehicles did need a cleanser.

    Dodge used heater cores and air conditioning condensers and evaporators in their trucks from Harrison in the lates ninties and these were trouble prone.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • This is for the '97 Dakota Sport 2WD

    Heater:
    Does anybody know for a fact whether the control knob/key position actuates
    a solenoid valve, etc. to allow hot water to flow/not flow thru the heater
    core? Something inside me says there should be such a control. Otherwise,
    when driving thru Death Valley in August, even though the AC is turned on,
    hot water is circulating under the dash board! On the other hand, when I
    recently isolated and flushed said heater core, I could find no such
    position of control knob/ key position that seemed to prevent water from
    circulating thru the core. In other words, once I got it flushed out, water
    flowed through it no matter what the position of any knob/switches (and
    whether the ignition key was on or removed).

    Radiator drain valve:
    Along with my heater core clogging, it turned out that the radiator drain
    valve was also clogged - so much that nary a drop would drain out when
    "opened". When I looked at the valve, the "rib" on the plastic knob was
    vertical. It would only turn counterclockwise 1/4 of a turn, where it
    seemed to hit a stop. I presume this horizontal position of the rib is the
    open position. Does anybody know of a physical trick that can be done to
    clear out the drain valve? I tried fishing a small wire up in the valve
    opening (it's hard to get to), but no luck. :cry:

    Any help is appreciated!
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Your observation is correct. Engine coolant circulates through the heater core at all times. Air flow through the heater core is controled by a mode door which directs air through the HVAC housing. Automakers at one time did use a flow control valve on the input side to cut-off the flow of coolant to the heater core. That design practice was abandoned in favor of the current manner, in part to reduce the number of components in the system, and also to remove an often troublesome, high failure part. When I did auto repair service full time, these control valves were a common source of leaks.

    Be sure you've got the drain cock open all the way. The plastic drain cocks on Mopar radiators work real hard. I haven't run across one yet that has a clogged drain cock. I suspect you may not have the valve open all the way.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • Thanks for your reply, Dusty. Since posting this, I also managed to get confirmation from a couple Dodge truck service managers that - in the Dakota - there is no valve controlling the water flow thru the core. And as you said, earlier automobile models did have stop/diverter valves to prevent hot water from flowing thru the core in summer months. My dad's '63 Chevy pickup was exactly this way.

    As for the radiator drain valve, I'm now 95% sure that I didn't open the valve correctly. :( After turning it 1/4 turn counterclockwise, I believe I'm supposed to then pull it out (using, for example, micro channel-locks). I didn't do this last step and so probably never got the valve in an OPEN state. In the near future, I plan to go thru all this again and - this time - try carefully pulling on the plastic valve cap to open it. How does that sound?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Yeah, after I responded to you I thought maybe you weren't pulling on the drain cock. I think you might have to press inward slightly before pulling outwards.

    Good luck,
    Dusty
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