1993 Caravan coolant leak -- cheap temporary fixes or stopgap measures?

I got the bad news today from my mechanic.

My beloved (and irreplaceable) manual-transmission minivan has sprung coolant leaks just about every place it is possible for it to leak, and it will cost upwards of $3,000 to fix it. I’m taking this as a sign that I shouldn’t keep on using extrordinary measures to preserve its life.

However, I would like to keep it going for at least a few weeks or so while I work through my grief and incidentally start looking for a new car.

So, my question: are there any additives or special coolant formulations I can buy that will at least temporarily reduce or stop the leaks?

For a week you can either pile a load of black pepper, an egg (not so much)or a can or jar or bag of stop leak for your radiator from any auto-parts store. Do the last thing.

Pour anything you think might work into the radiator, but don’t expect a miracle.

You’re riding on borrowed time.

Don’t push it.

For a couple of weeks as it is winter it is possible a car could get by loosening the radiator cap and keeping an eye on fluid level in the radiator. This will probably leave coolant in the system and with no pressure the system will leak at a minimal rate. I made it a few hundred miles through Nebraska doing this, but there are no guarantees of success, and Dewy Cheathim and Howe require I suggest this as something I did, not recommended, and accept no liability if you should try such a thing.

If you have one of the chain stores like Auto Zone or Advance Auto Parts in your area they should have a product called Bars 1111 Head Gasket Sealer. It might keep you running for a while. Don’t stretch your luck though.

Pour two tablespoons of black pepper in the coolant and cross your fingers. This might give you the two or three weeks you need to find a replacement vehicle.


I don’t know if it is still on the market, but I had really good results with K & W seal on my 1947 Pontiac some years back. I had coolant getting into the oil. I had only paid $75 for the car, so I decided to try my own repair. I pulled the cylinder head (easy to do with the flathead engine) and found the engine block was cracked around one of the valve seats. I put it back together and used a can of K & W seal as directed. I drove the car a year, sold it, and it was still running down the streets two years later. More recently, my brother had an old Chevrolet van in the fleet for his plumbing business. It was losing coolant just as your Caravan is doing. He treated it with some sort of sealer that he got at an autoparts store and got another year out of the van. These sealers are the Geritol for geezer vehicles. Like Geritol, sometimes they work.