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Friday, August 15, 2014

Mini-Van Repair - DIY Pt 1 - Diagnosis

This post will describe the diagnosis of a leak in one of our heater hoses in our family mini-van and a plan to perform a do-it-yourself repair to correct it.  First some background.  The mini-van is a 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan.  It is similar to the Chrysler Town and Country and Volkswagen Routan.  Our mini-van was purchased in 2010 and has performed well for us in transporting our family of 5 on trips near and far and for my wife to use as her daily vehicle.  The engine is the 3.3 liter V-6 engine which doesn't allow for the greatest pick-up when entering an interstate but once it gets going it's okay.

Recently my wife, who drives the car, experienced problems with her brakes.  It was repaired and then within a month, she experienced a symptom of the original brake problem: smoking from engine after driving for awhile.  We returned the car to the mechanic who redid the brakes for no charge.  I also must add we found on the internet numerous complaints regarding premature wear on the brakes for these vehicles as well as questioning why Chrysler/Dodge and now Fiat has done nothing to improve the brake system.

Well after a week or so after the 2nd repair job was done, we were experiencing the smoke and smell in the cabin.  My wife took our kids to visit her sister's home for the weekend.  I noticed a small circular mark on the driveway after they left and while talking to her while she was travelling I suggested she ask her brother-in-law to investigate the small leak.

It turns out one of 2 heather hoses was leaking coolant.  These hoses connect by a plastic Y connector and the connector is situated above a large exhaust manifold and when it leaks it evaporates and begins to smoke.  Luckily, she was able to drive it home safely and I made sure to add coolant to her reservoir so she had enough coolant for the engine.  I also researched this new issue and, to some surprise it seemed to be another issue faced by owners of this vehicle.  However, this problem was one that could successfully corrected through a DIY project.  

I found a blogger who successfully replaced his y connector as well as a You Tube video of another Y connector repair which he modified his repair using a brass T connector he purchased at Lowes.

This is the DIY repair I plan on doing for our Minivan.  It's amazing that Dodge uses these plastic Y connectors that are prone for leaks early on in the vehicles life cycle.  I used to own a Ford Taurus and it gave me a lot of problems.  I swore off Ford Vehicles.  Now must I avoid Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep products as well?  So much for buy American.

Wish me luck. 

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