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Dodge Dakota Radiator and Cooling Problems

24

Comments

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    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: 2,926
    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: 2,926
    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: 2,926
    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: 2,926
    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
  • Dusty,

    Could I please ask one more "bonus" question?

    Back to your earlier comment, supposing I was interested at some point in doing a "high pressure flush" - could you please tell me where I'd find the "freeze" plugs on the engine block? How many are there? Are they hard to find? One on each side? 1/4" NPT?

    Any advice is appreciated. :D
  • Check out an old post of mine to help find the freeze plug and radiator drain valve locations.
    http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.ee99556/2478
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    You are asking about freeze plugs while referring to performing a pressure flush. Freeze plugs are are round disk-like pieces of steel that fit into various places on a engine block to fill holes that are required during the casting process.

    I think what you are asking for are the drain plugs. There are two on a 4.7 motor, one on each side of the engine block about midway between the oil pan rail and the bottom edge of the cylinder head.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • Dusty - you are right: my bad. Soon after I posted my question, I realized I misspoke in referring to them as "freeze plugs". Of course, I meant the drain plugs.

    Per seventy7's advice, I reviewed the post here:
    http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.ee99556/2478

    Though the post involved a different truck (4.7L 4X4 vs. my 3.9L Dokota Sport), I was able to pick up on a couple useful things. Laying under my pickup, I readily spotted the 9/16" plug on the driver's side. This one is easy to get to - just the opposite of the arrangement seventy7 described for his 4X4.

    On the passenger side of my Dakota, I didn't readily spot the plug. I may have to put it up on ramps and try to find it again after a bit of "attitude adjustment". :D
  • This is a follow-on point to an earlier thread I started here:
    http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f150267

    This post is really informational only, and I decided to start a new one in order that it might be seen by those wanting to do an effective "High Pressure" coolant flush on their Dakota.

    As revealed in the thread cited above, there are 2 drain plugs (9/16" hex heads) - one on each side of the block. The one on the driver's side is rather obvious - it sits just behind the water pump and is easy to get to. The other one was troublesome to find. After searching a while, I decided to presume symmetry to help me find it. With this in mind, the good news is that the plugs are symmetrical and the passenger-side plug also sits just behind the water pump.

    That's where the good news ends.

    To my complete dismay, 3/16" above the head of the passenger-side plug sits a large bracket for the right-side engine mount! The interference this creates requires that the engine mount be removed before this plug can be removed. (Of course, no one in their right mind would do that.) I was so astounded by this that I actually took closeup digital pictures to convince any disbelievers. Unfortunately, this otherwise great posting template does not accommodate uploading of pictures, so you'll have to take my word for it. Bottom line: for all practical purposes, one one of the 2 drain plugs in the engine block (driver's side only) can be removed for a good coolant flush.

    Whenever I see something like this, I get philosophical. I start thinking things like - the Dodge engine designers and the chassis designers work in 2 different buildings - never talk to each other and never know each other. It also confirms a thought I've had for many years: the aforementioned highly-paid mechanical engineers never actually do maintenance on the vehicles themselves. :D
  • aleyataleyat Posts: 1
    I need to replace it, I know, do I need to change the thermostat too? Are there other compatable years?? I can't afford a new one so I'm searching the local junkyards. . . . any sudgestions??? :sick:
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    You should not need to replace the thermostate, unless the radiator cracked from overheating.

    Have you tried an aftermarket radiator for price? I wouldn't advise a used one unless it was nearly pristine.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • I have a 2001 dakota sport with 4.7 V8. It over heated about 3 weeks ago after replacing the thermostat I thought the problem was gone. Until 2 days ago it over heated again! This time I replaced the radiator cap. Drove it for about a half hour everything seemed ok. Drove it to work the next day no problems. Got home from work and I could hear the overflow bubbling sounded like boiling water. The only thing is the coolant was cold in the tank. So after calling a local dodge dealer the service manager told me he is 99% sure that I blew a head gasket. So I checked the oil and found no water, I even pulled all the plugs to see it one was wet with antifreeze found nothing! There is no white smoke coming from my exhaust either. So now I am stumped!!! Any help would be much appreciated.
  • :confuse: Ok, I'm at a loss. My truck started overheating about a month ago... I have replaced the thermostat, heat temp sensor and bad hoses but it is still overheating. I checked the water pump (did not take it off) and it looked fine. There was no wiggle and nothing coming out of the weep holes plus with the top radiator hose off i started the truck and fluid gushed out everywhere. Then I took out the thermostat to see how it ran without one, no change... So not a bad thermostat, temp sensor or water pump. When I took the thermostat out there was no fluid in the block and my radiator was full.............. Please help WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY TRUCK. AND WHY IS IT OVERHEATING I am usually very good at finding the problem and fixing it but this I can't figure out.
  • moquelvogmoquelvog Posts: 21
    I had the same thing happen to me on my 97 dakota. I replaced EVERYTHING in the cooling system except the radiator. Guess what it was... the radiator. Same thing you described... radiator seemed to work fine. I even tried flushing it first. Guess it just had a bad core. Put a new one in and temp was perfect and no problems since. Hope this helps.

    Omen
  • cuttdogcuttdog Posts: 2
    Help...I have a 06 dodge dakota quad cab it has the 4.7 v-8 magnum.My problem is that it is going through water pumps.I have replaced the water pump twice and this morning I go out and it's leaking again.The pumps are lasting about 3000 miles then they go out.I had everything checked to make sure nothing was warped on the last installation and mechanic said everything checked out ok.If anyone has an Idea of why my truck is eating water pumps please let me know.I'm installing pump 3 this week.Thanks
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    My '05 QC, same engine as yours needed new head gaskets last month, at 18,000 miles! When the dealer was looking at it, he mentioned that there was coolant leaking leaking from the water pump, so it was replaced as part of the head gasket job. I had not noticed any leaking up to that point.

    Where is the leak? From the weep hole at the bottom of the pump, or someplace else?

    If it's leaking from the weep hole, it probably means the bearings and/or seal is gone. The question is why? What coolant are you running? Is your drive belt for the water pump on correctly and not skewed?
  • Help this Truck has Me Stuck ..
    today i learned a trick on the odometer code and how to get the code
    first last yr there was fluid in my passenger floor board , then no heating or cooling followed that , when i checked my radiator it was almost empty , i filled it up and i have heating and cooling again , so I Had a new radiator put on and it is still loosing flood but not in my floor and not on the road or in my oil , so i had it preassure check and couldnt find any fluid coming out anywhere , my engine light is on and the odometer code is P0045, I call a Dodge dealer mechanic and he says there is no code like that for my truck . imagine that !
    Also Adv.Auto did there dianostic and it says emmission leak , i have had the gas cap to cause the engine light to come on but now it is not that , also when i try to pump gas in my truck it fills up to the nozzle and the pump kicks off.
    Please advise me , Im stuck about this truck .
    Lisa
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    When the tank fills to the point where it kicks the pump out instead of stopping normally, that's usually a tank ventilation problem - in this case, the vent is continuing to release air and thus the tank doesn't think it's full. This is considered an emissions problem.

    The loss of radiator coolant sounds like a heater core or water pump problem where it's primarily leaking while you're actually moving at speed. You probably need to have your truck on a dyno or on a lift where someone can simulate driving while another tech checks for leaks while the engine is well above idle.

    kcram - Pickups/Wagons Host
  • :P help my sons Dodge Dakota is leaking cant figure out from where he said he notices water by passengers side :cry: : ; : 1999 Dakota
  • I recently change out the top hoses because there was a crack in middle section that has the radiator cap . Now I am going through a lot of anti freeze and am not seeing it leaking out any where . I thought maybe the problem was that I did not bleed the air out of the hose but am not sure if it will fix the problem . I have to re fill the resevior everytime I travel over 60 miles. Help?
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Even if you have some air in the system, that would not explain the loss of coolant.

    Though, if when you filled it back up there was lots of air in the system, it could take a while for all the air to percolate to the highest point in the system, which would make it look as if the coolant level was dropping.

    How much coolant have you had to add after replacing the hose?
  • hey everyone. can anyone tell me why i would have coolant smell/smoke comin out of my middle vents. on a 2000 dodge dakota sport.

    thnx
    bruce
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