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Old 11-19-2017, 10:54 PM   #1
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Default My new beater

So I have acquired another vehicle. I am now the proud owner of a 1996 chrysler minivan. This one is branded as a dodge grand caravan, but they're all pretty much the same. I managed to get it started after charging the battery and jumping it a few times. It hadn't been started in a couple years but after revving it for a minute it stayed running under its own power, so the alternator is probably fine. It made it the 2 miles to my driveway under its own power, but it's got a massive coolant leak going on. Towards the end the temp gauge was pegged and it started beeping at me. I'm hoping it's a cracked radiator or the coolant pipe that runs under the exhaust manifold and not a cracked block. I doubt the block is cracked but we shall see. It's a 3.3L.



The battery was totally dead but it's only a few years old, so far it looks like it will hold a charge. I ran it with no coolant in it for about 30 minutes collectively before it started getting hot, how it went that long I have no idea. The transmission has been replaced with a remanufactured unit sometime in the past and it seems to shift through all the gears just fine. It's got a lot of miles on it but the engine sounds fine, no obvious knocks or rattles. The oil is pretty old and nasty, but no coolant in there. It takes a few cranks to catch, I suspect the fuel filter is clogged or close to it.




The interior is pretty rough. There's a lot of mold in the front, although the back is actually pretty clean. The vents smell old and musty, but not like dead rodents, so that's a plus. I'm going to spray the shit out of the dashboard with bleach. The seatbelt is also pretty nasty, so I'm thinking if the buckles are all the same I will rip one out of the back and put it up front.



It's a beater. The plan is to fix the coolant leak and see how it runs afterwards. Also going to do the water pump and thermostat. Another one of the first things to do is put some fresh ATF+4 in the transmission. I'm going to drill a hole in the transmission oil pan and tack weld a nut on the other side to give it a drain plug (why American manufacturers don't believe in transmission drain plugs I have no idea). I've always wanted to try that. Then if it runs and drives it's going to get the shit beat out of it .
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Old 11-20-2017, 01:05 AM   #2
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Well, it didn't take long to find the leak...I crawled under there and one of the freeze plugs has blown out. Judging by the amount of rust around the hole I don't think that happened today. The hole is nice and round, so no cracks in the block as far as I can tell. I've never had to replace one of those before. Should be fun. Now to figure out why it blew out (it broke down during the summer months).
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Old 11-20-2017, 01:20 AM   #3
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How did they get that polished concrete look on the dash? It looks.... rugged?

That isn't one of the timing belt motors they used, is it?
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Old 11-20-2017, 01:27 AM   #4
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That's mold lol. Luckily it should come off the hard surfaces with some bleach water and a sponge. I paid a hundred bucks for this vehicle so I'm not too concerned about the aesthetics (that and it's a minivan lol).

And no, it's not a belt motor. The two belt motors in these are mopar's 2.4L 4 banger (base models only) and a 3.0L V6 sourced from Mitsubishi. The 3.3L is a pushrod with a timing chain. I'm curious as to what would have caused that plug to blow out. I was told it has a blown head gasket but the oil doesn't have any coolant in it.
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Old 11-20-2017, 01:39 AM   #5
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Holy Mold! Maybe you should leave it, it might grow on you...

I remembered doing a belt on a v6 van about 10 years ago with about that many miles on it. The guy brought it to the shop because it was making a funny noise, the engine was. The belt was about to come apart. It was original! 240k. He bought the van new. Sounds like you won't have that problem!

Perhaps the plug failed itself due to rust? Did Chrysler have any TSBs about plugs from that era? I put a bunch of plugs in a dakota that rusted from the inside out due to the owner never changing coolant.
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Old 11-20-2017, 01:45 AM   #6
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I see what you did there. The hole where the plug was is pretty rusted but it's still round. Looks like the auto parts store has replacement freeze plugs for about a dollar. Of course Murphy's Law dictates that it's in the back. I might have to pull the passenger side CV to get at it but I need to change the transmission fluid anyways.

I bet the coolant went a long time without being changed as there is rust in the radiator too. The overflow tank has some glittery stuff in it, so someone put stop leak in it at one point. I'll bet it started weeping first then just blew out one day. The water pump is probably shot too.

Interesting that you mention the belt. This family of engines was actually designed to replace the 3.0 shitsubishi unit since chrysler could build it in-house a lot more cheaply. Here's a link to its history:
https://www.allpar.com/mopar/33.html
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Old 11-20-2017, 01:56 AM   #7
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That picture immediately made me remember those intrepids and whatnot!

I have something like this to install plugs. Removal varies, and invariably is challenging, but that tool helps tremendously. Also a clean, polished block, and hitack.
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Old 11-20-2017, 02:03 AM   #8
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I might just sand the edges of the hole with some fine grit sandpaper. I probably have a socket that will work as a drift. Luckily I don't have to remove it. Basically I'm going to tap a new plug in and start it up and see if it holds. This is not going to be a daily driver lol.
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Old 11-20-2017, 02:07 AM   #9
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Haha ya I can sometimes use a socket. That tool is nice for tight/offset places. I can't recommend emory cloth enough. that stuff is amazing for so many thing like this or cleaning up a shaft. Spray it with some PB or the like and then I go to town!
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Old 11-20-2017, 02:13 AM   #10
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Thats the plan! Access is going to suck though since it has to be done from under the van. I might use a little trick they use for changing the spark plugs in these: undo the front and side motor mounts, put a jack under the oil pan then use a ratchet strap to rotate the engine forward a few inches. The spark plugs look like they were changed but not recently. Also they are NGKs. Good on whoever worked on it last.
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