Dodge Neon overheats - reservoir leaks


#1

My daughter’s 2003 Dodge Neon overheated. We tried to add antifreeze to the reservoir but it leaked out from the reservoir. Once the car cooled down we were able to drive it to Firestone. They replaced the reservoir, thermostat, radiator cap, and flushed the radiator and replaced coolant. The next week the car overheated again. This time we put water in the (new) reservoir and it leaked again. The mechanics tell me this is how those reservoirs are made. Is this true?


#2

No. Absolutely not. The overflow reservoirs are normally not under pressure so they ought to last the lifetime of the car without such a problem. The mechanic should know better.

You need to find the real cause of overheating. It may be due to a blown head gasket, which is a more serious problem. Find another mechanic.


#3

Thanks, I will do that. What about all the money they charged me to replace the reservoir but the "new"one still leaks?


#4

Yup, this is true. You guys at Firestone did not fix the cause of the problem. They never even diagnosed the cause of the problem. They just changed some parts and billed you.

Your engine is heating and expanding the fluids inside it to where it’s pushing out past the radiator cap and pushing the fluid out the reservoire overfill.

At this point I think it’s highly likely that you’ve blown a headgasket. If you have, than the hot combustion gasses are blowing through the breech and dierctly into the water jacket, pushing gases into the coolant and heating the coolant faster than the system can dissipate the heat. A good shop will likely do a pressure leakdown test to start. That’s a test where the crank is runed for each cylinder until both valves are closed, and air pressure is pumped into them one by one. If the cylinder fails to hold the pressure, you have a headgasket leak. Another simple test is to fill the cooling system, warm up the engine (to open the T-stat), and watch with the radiator cap off. If bubbles blow out the radiator fill hole, that’ll be the combustion gasses getting blown into the coolant and migrating out.

Tip: when filling an empty cooling system, you need to add fluid to the radiator, not just the reservoir. The reservoir is more of an “expansion tank” than anything. When the coolant in the engine heats up, it goes past the radiator cap and into the reservoir. When it cools down, it contracts and pulls fluid from the reservoir into the engine.

You need a new shop. You need some testing done. Sorry.


#5

I would have filled the radiator but was scared to take off the cap while it was hot. Just tried get something in the reservoir to cool down the engine. But when we saw it all pouring out we knew something was wrong there.

But what I’m trying to figure out is if I was just a victim of inept mechanics, or actually robbed with this reservoir.


#6

I understand. And you can get scalded by opening a hot radiator.

The problem is that putting fluid in the reservoir doesn’t get it into the engine. The on;y way it can go from the reservoir to the engine is by the engine’s fluid cooling down and sucking the coolant back into the radiator through the straw in the middle as its coolant contracts.

I think you were a victim primarily of ineptitude, but possible also of thievery.But it’s too late to prove it. Just have the car towed elsewhere. I suppose one could give them the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not inclined to.


#7

I don’t think it will be too late to prove it. If the new mechanic finds the leaks in the so-called new reservoir, wouldn’t that prove the point? Was the Firestone mechanic correct when he said the reservoirs were supposed to leak?