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Discussion Starter #1
So went to use the heater for the first time and after 15 minutes of "warming up" only the mere hint of heat. After 30 minutes it was warm on the high setting. It has Automatic Temp Control and the issue applies to the whole van ... Driver, Passenger and Rear heat. It also occurs at all temps requiring heat and in all vent positions (defrost, floor, mix, dash)

Have noticed the van engine temp gauge not getting above the 1/4 mark. Gonna check the thermostat on that issue. This should sit about the 1/2 way mark is that correct?

Just wanted to run it by you guys and see if there are any other ideas out there.

Thanks in advance for any ideas!
 

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Do a search, there a few more problems here just like yours.

Heat gage should be just below halfway.

Make sure your radiator/overflow reservoir are topped off first, but it is probably your thermostat.

Feel the upper rad hose and heater hoses, they should hot after a few miles drive. The heater hoses first.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Do a search, there a few more problems here just like yours.

Heat gage should be just below halfway.

Make sure your radiator/overflow reservoir are topped off first, but it is probably your thermostat.

Feel the upper rad hose and heater hoses, they should hot after a few miles drive. The heater hoses first.
Sorry forgot to state, both radiator and overflow are filled.

I have done searches before posting in here. I haven't found any that applied to my situation, lots of passenger air only issues and others containing already tried solutions.

The one thing I haven't tried is checking the "blend doors" as I don't know their location, but I did do a recalibration that passed with no issues. So I'm less inclined to think that is the issue.

Anyways pulled off the thermostat and swapped in a new one, reassembled and start up and leaks ... pull off housing and realized the part that the bolts go through is bent! Weird, so I am out of troubleshooting steps till Tuesday when the local part store can get one in.

I would still like to hear other troubleshooting steps if anybody has any ideas.
 

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2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT (3.8); 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan eL (3.8)
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Anyways pulled off the thermostat and swapped in a new one, reassembled and start up and leaks ... pull off housing and realized the part that the bolts go through is bent!
You probably put the housing on the wrong way, see my post here: Thermostat Housing?

Also look at post #15 in that thread for a diagram showing the correct orientation of the housing (Note the location of the large rounded corner).

George
 

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Did you check the hoses for heat before you took it apart?

Cold hoses will narrow it down and probably eliminate the doors.

As George says, the thermostat and housing must go on so so, not like the old days.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You probably put the housing on the wrong way, see my post here: Thermostat Housing?

Also look at post #15 in that thread for a diagram showing the correct orientation of the housing (Note the location of the large rounded corner).

George
It went on the same way it came off, I always mark parts with fingernail polish for placement and alignment during reinstall. But seeing the diagram it was on backwards before I removed it. I have a new one ordered and will place it on correctly to avoid damaging the new one.

Makes me wonder why it didn't leak before.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Did you check the hoses for heat before you took it apart?

Cold hoses will narrow it down and probably eliminate the doors.

As George says, the thermostat and housing must go on so so, not like the old days.
The temperature of the hose was warm/hottish ... not as hot as I would expect it to be and would coincide with the van not reaching temperature. That is the reason I replaced the thermostat, that and when I removed the housing it was open in 30 degree weather, lol.

What "doors" are you talking about. The Blend Doors? Wouldn't an issue with those show up during the calibration on the climate control panel?
 

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On old vehicles parts are not necessarily installed correctly, been there numerous times:)

The hoses should normally be too hot for your hand after being driven a few miles. Cold weather will make it take a bit longer but eventually they will be very hot.

If not, there is definitely a circulation problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well got the new housing in and the engine is warming up as I type will be back shortly to tell you the outcome. Word of note ... ABSOLUTELY DO NOT DROP ONE OF THE BOLTS IN THIS LOCATION ... even with magnetic retrieval systems it's an ungodly nightmare! Be Back Shortly
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well 20 minutes warming up in the driveway followed by a 5 mile uphill drive .... warm air (not hot), warm hose (not too hot to handle) and temp guage made it past the 1/4 mark only while going uphill. The moment I turned around temp gauge down to 1/4 and nothing but warmish air the whole way. Performed climate control calibration (power & recirc) and listened carefully and could hear things moving (whirring and nothing suspicious sounding).

So where to from here? I'm in your hands now guys, I am very mechanically inclined (ex-helicopter mechanic). Start with the cheapest/easiest troubleshooting spots and work our way on up from there. I don't know the system in this van that well.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Also, an observation ... when it was going through the calibration there were moments when I could feel hotter air, hotter than the warm that was coming out. It was almost as if it was getting trying to get hot. I manually went back through all the defrost, dash, footwell settings but nothing changed other than where the air came out. Would changing to LOW and then rapidly changing to HI provide any insight? Are there any noises or anything I should be listening for?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Another troubleshooting question, would the rear air be affected by a blend door issue? Just trying to eliminate known issues, right now thinking there is a circulation issue somewhere. After changing out the thermostat and running the van as described earlier I was able to open the radiator without melting my arm, I would think it should be scalding hot. Also the coolant seems to have taken on a rust color. When running it this morning after changing the thermostat it was running the color of the coolant, after warming it up and driving it around and opening the radiator cap back up it was very rusty looking. Don't know if that helps any.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Is there a way to properly "burp" the coolant system of air? After letting the vehicle cool down I opened the radiator and it needed some fluid so I filled and restarted and rewarmed the engine up, few minutes later "warm/hot" air ... an improvement. Now I'm wondering if a flush and removing all air will help any. On my old focus there was a screw to open to vent air out of the coolant system, is there something similar to this or a procedure to vent out the air?
 

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The rear system has its own heating coil, not affected by the front.

Top off the radiator then fill the reservoir to the full mark. Some coolant will be sucked out when the engine cools if the system is not leaking.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The rear system has its own heating coil, not affected by the front.

Top off the radiator then fill the reservoir to the full mark. Some coolant will be sucked out when the engine cools if the system is not leaking.
So after driving around today I'm getting warmer air, but not the hot air I should expect. It was warmer outside today than it's been the past couple of days though so I don't know if that has anything to do with it. Knowing that the front and rear heat have separate heat systems leads me to believe it's coolant system related vs blend door related as the rear air is dealing with the same issue.

Tomorrow supposed to be up in the 40s so I will take that opportunity to perform a flush of the coolant system. Anyone have a good high and low point to run a hose through before I start running a few gallons of distilled through it? I want to get rid of all the rust color and make sure I'm getting a good flow through the system. I would like to verify that the rear is getting flushed out also. If anyone knows a good topic to point me towards that would be helpful!

Thanks in advance.
 

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The only instruction I find for flushing is for when the radiator is removed to reverse flush it through the lower hose side. There is a coolant vent plug on the 3.3/3.8's of that gen proximally below the thermostat housing, but it is only supposed to be used when draining the system.

Oddly, ours has been suffering similar issue with not generating really warm air. This started after the upper hose blew (split down the middle) and was replaced. I haven't noticed any temp spikes that would indicate that there's air in the system, but that upper hose never gets truly hot. I can hold it easily even when the radiator fans kick on and the temp gauge is still just below the halfway point. I need to perform another coolant level check this weekend.
 
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