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Hi everyone. Working on a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan with about 190K miles on it. The symptom I am seeing is that the engine overheats pretty quickly once after running for about 5 minutes. What I have done so far is replace the thermostat, and added coolant. What I finally did was actually stop the car while it was running hot, and I have found that (only) the driver side radiator cooling fan does not come on. I was about to replace the relay when I realized that one fan works, and one does not, so it might not be a bad relay. That assumes that when the fan is running at 30% power, both fans would be on and at 30%. I read through some of the posts here, so I am going to try adding coolant directly into the radiator as mentioned in some of the other posts with a similar problem. I am looking for ideas on what else I should heck out. I watched the posted video about the 3rd gen cooling fan relay (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdIYm9kM5E0), but I don't (currently) have one of those power probes. Adding that to the tool list. The oil is not creamy. I don't hear any unusual sounds when starting the van, but we have an exhaust leak that makes anything quieter than a large explosion impossible to hear. I am also going to verify that the one fan does turn by hand so I can rule out a seized fan. Thanks in advance!
 

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Step 1 is to check your radiator by removing the cap. Add coolant as necessary.
 

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The easiest way to deal with those fans is to pull them out. Put 12 volts to the one that wasn't coming on see if it works. if not you can buy just the motor and if memory serves me I think the nut is a left handed thread.

Hope this helps.
 

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Step 1 is to check your radiator by removing the cap. Add coolant as necessary.
Yep, it was WAY low. Took about a half gallon. Drove it for about 40 minutes between surface streets and highway. Never went above the halfway mark. So I understand this better - The reservoir shows full, but the radiator itself was low. Is there a blockage somewhere that is keeping the juice in the reservoir and not letting it circulate properly? Possibly an issue with the water pump? I don't think it has been replaced in the van, and it seems like it did get swapped in other vehicles (probably at the same time as a timing belt).
 

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The easiest way to deal with those fans is to pull them out. Put 12 volts to the one that wasn't coming on see if it works. if not you can buy just the motor and if memory serves me I think the nut is a left handed thread.

Hope this helps.
Thanks! I am going to try that after watching the Youtube video about the fans. I need to find a buddy with the power probe. Or a place that either sells, rents, or loans them out.
 

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No, the reservoir coolant level is not going to move if the coolant level in the radiator is down enough, i.e. no liquid, only vapors available to go into the reservoir. At cool down, vapors are finding their way back to the radiator or outside air is finding its way in due to a leak.
 

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Cool, thanks for the help! I have 2 old cars now, and I am about to add a 3rd. Making repairs myself is a necessity anymore! Next up is changing the instrument cluster bulbs. I got a pack of 10 for under $4, and I really want to watch the temp gauge for a while to make sure I really got it fixed.
 

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The "Reservoir" tank should not be considered a reservoir but more of an Expansion tank. As the Coolant Temperature increases, coolant pressure increases and the radiator cap maintains the required pressure in the coolant system and any excessive is allowed to expand into the tank. If the system has no places where air can get in, there will be a vacuum created as the coolant temperature decreases and the anti-freeze "shrinks" and should draw the coolant back into the system self maintaining the level as long as the system is sealed and properly functioning.

If the system level is full and the tank is checked frequently and the level maintained (like weekly when checking the oil), you should be able to prevent a large loss and also notice any significant changes indicating a issue to explore further.

My tank level preference is minimum to midway between for cold and midway to maximum when the engine is at operating temperature.
 

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Next up is changing the instrument cluster bulbs. I got a pack of 10 for under $4, and I really want to watch the temp gauge for a while to make sure I really got it fixed.
be gentile, i broke 3 of the 4 mounts for the bezel when i did that job

plug the cluster in before you put it back together and check to make sure all bulbs work as well, with LEDs it took me 4 tries before they were all right
 

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Yep, it was WAY low. Took about a half gallon. Drove it for about 40 minutes between surface streets and highway. Never went above the halfway mark. So I understand this better - The reservoir shows full, but the radiator itself was low. Is there a blockage somewhere that is keeping the juice in the reservoir and not letting it circulate properly? Possibly an issue with the water pump? I don't think it has been replaced in the van, and it seems like it did get swapped in other vehicles (probably at the same time as a timing belt).
Not sure about these (our) vehicles but.... sometimes the second fan is controlled differently than the first. Sometimes the second fan is tied to the air conditioning to remove more heat as the AC produces heat outside to make cool inside. Also the second fan may be connected in a way that has it come on at a higher temperature than the first. Use caution with your hands around the fan with the battery connected, as they may even turn on suddenly with the key in your pocket. Did you ever hear a radiator fan continue to run after you turned off the car?

Thanks! I am going to try that after watching the Youtube video about the fans. I need to find a buddy with the power probe. Or a place that either sells, rents, or loans them out.
I rent/borrowed a kit at AutoZone auto parts last week that had an electrical meter inside with it. It was a fuel pump pressure testing kit. ** Also, there are many of the same relays in the fuse box. So if you find one that you suspect is not working, you can swap it with another that you can see instant results like a fog light relay (you can turn that on/off right away and see instant result test)

The "Reservoir" tank should not be considered a reservoir but more of an Expansion tank. As the Coolant Temperature increases, coolant pressure increases and the radiator cap maintains the required pressure in the coolant system and any excessive is allowed to expand into the tank. If the system has no places where air can get in, there will be a vacuum created as the coolant temperature decreases and the anti-freeze "shrinks" and should draw the coolant back into the system self maintaining the level as long as the system is sealed and properly functioning.

If the system level is full and the tank is checked frequently and the level maintained (like weekly when checking the oil), you should be able to prevent a large loss and also notice any significant changes indicating a issue to explore further.

My tank level preference is minimum to midway between for cold and midway to maximum when the engine is at operating temperature.
AutoZone also has a coolant system pressure tester that can be used to check the radiator cap operation. You connect the adaper and pump pressure to check that the cap is releasing pressure at the amount designated on the cap (mine is 16 PSI) **also, you occasionally check the coolant level at the radiator (maybe monthly, or every other...) keep in mind that it is usually going to be an inch or two below the 'full to top' of the radiator when cool. Don't assume you have a leak because you filled it yesterday and today it is down an inch.

Let us know how your repairs go, there are a lot of knowledgeable folks here and we give advice and experience for free.... all we ask is that you 'repay' us by telling us what works and what does not. Report what you did and how you finally resolved your repair.
'Most important' work safe and have fun! I find it very rewarding making my own repairs and feel that I do a better job than some professional mechanics because I care more.... It is my family, my money, and my inconvenience on the line. BUY QUALITY PARTS!, you'll appreciate it in the long run. Cheers!
 

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be gentile, i broke 3 of the 4 mounts for the bezel when i did that job

plug the cluster in before you put it back together and check to make sure all bulbs work as well, with LEDs it took me 4 tries before they were all right
When you did the cluster, did you have to use something to clean the contacts. That old solder on the cluster board makes it hard to get the new bulbs to lite up. I had to use the dremel with a bristle brush to shine up the solder for good contact.
 

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When you did the cluster, did you have to use something to clean the contacts. That old solder on the cluster board makes it hard to get the new bulbs to lite up. I had to use the dremel with a bristle brush to shine up the solder for good contact.
the cluster itself and solder on mine was pristine

the solder for the twist bulb sockets on the map lights has completely gone however, i'll have to replace the assembly inside that holds the bulbs
 

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The engine should be fine without the fans even running while driving.
You likely have air in the system, which prevents the thermostat from working properly and disrupts the flow of coolant.
You can easily test this by pinching the return hose to provide back-pressure and burp the line.

The fix, is starting cold, remove the radiator cap and fill there - not from the overflow tank.
As the engine warms, the level of coolant will drop when the thermostat opens.
Pinch the hose (by hand with a towel or glove) to bleed the air and continue to top off the radiator
until the engine reaches normal operating temp.
Then replace the cap, check for leaks.
You may also want to try and bleed the over fill tank line.
 

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Cool, thanks for the help! I have 2 old cars now, and I am about to add a 3rd. Making repairs myself is a necessity anymore! Next up is changing the instrument cluster bulbs. I got a pack of 10 for under $4, and I really want to watch the temp gauge for a while to make sure I really got it fixed.
I replaced the instrument bulbs on my '02 GC and 2 years ago. It was SUPER easy to do and didn't require as much disassembly as the video I watched actually showed. Yes, I had to do it twice (not my fault) so I learned what to skip. I started with the top row information panel, which had to be completely replaced due to a plastic crack. Then noticed the instrument cluster was pretty "dark". The only tricky part is if the connections are corroded, knowing the new bulb makes good contact (and lights) is tough on the bench and you own't know until mostly reattached.
 
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