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Older Plymouth Voyager is dying! Need some help

My van is a 96 with 150k miles with the small engine in it. Water started to leak through the head gasket and it started to burn a bit of oil. I need to keep this car going for at least an extra month. I was thinking that I could use a heavy grade oil. Is that a good idea? Are they any tricks that could help me keep this baby going for a little bit longer? Also, this past three days started something new: Many times it would just start, but sometimes it will just turn, and turn and it can take 15 minutes before it will finally start! Using starting fluid did not do anything to help!!! I changed the spark plugs, wires and distributor cap about 8 months ago. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated

Where’s the water leaking through the head gasket to? Is it an external leak or are you burning it and getting white smoke or is it ending up in the oil? And how much is a “bit” of oil?

You might try one of the miracle stop-leak products since you’ve got nothing left to lose, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up. If the coolant is leaking into the oil, the problem is that the coolant is diluting the oil, making a very poor lubricant and so if you are trying the squeeze a few more miles out of it, the thing to do is start obsessively changing the oil to try to keep the concentration of coolant in the oil as low as possible and that might buy you an extra month if you’re lucky. Heavier oil probably won’t help.

You Can Make It Last A Little Longer …
…, but unfortunately, you might be off by about one month.

It sounds like what you are doing is postponing a repair that could save its automotive life and in so doing are taking part in automotive assisted suicide.

I really doubt anybody can tell you to do ___________ and get __________ results. You can maybe have it go a month (WHY?) by keeping the fluids filled, but maybe not. It might just go “WHOOOSH!” (sound of head gasket letting go, spewing coolant) in the near future and could suffer more damage than it now has.

What’s really going on, here? Are you in the witness protection program or on a hit list?

Which engine do you have? 4 or 6 cylinder?
How many miles?
What’s the overall condition of the vehicle?
Is it worth fixing? Would you like to keep it?
What’s with one more month?

Hello Common sense answer sir, or should I dare to say Ray! Or maybe a lost Ray twin…

Well I better come clean.... My car is a '96 Chevy pickup truck 1500, v6, 4x4, 5 manual transmission. I guess I am a busy contractor and decided to ignore the noise the universal was making. So, while carrying a heavy load, the universal broke damaging the rear driveshaft and transfer case! I just got the driveshaft last week and still searching for the t-case (Chevy makes like 3 different T-case, so to say NP241 is not enough) So mean while, I got a donation of this poor van, abused and neglected, plus the fact that has 150K which in this tiny 4 cylinder, is probably past its life expectancy. It is burning the water (I see the white smoke, plus water drips out of the tail pipe) and there is water drips in the oil too! To add injury to insult, the transmission is leaking too :) The physical shape of the van is good, which is amazing, no hits, dents or rust. When I first inhere it I thought I would like to remove the sits and put a couple of shelves and use it for an emergency car which can keep my tools even if it rains; which my truck cannot since I constantly use the bed to move dirt, concrete or wood.

So that is why I need this van to go for a month on a band aid since I am working 7 days a week for the next 3 weeks. I drive 14 miles each way to work and back. My hope is that by then I will have the parts I need for my truck. Then the decision on the van? Is it worth to do a head gasket job, which I can do? or trying to get another engine /transmission for a junk yard and just do a complete swap! What do you guys think?
So there is my story? that is my 30 day story :slight_smile:

If you can do it, I’d definitely do a head gasket if you think that’s all it is. The only trouble is that if you have a lot of oil consumption, that may indicate that the engine internals are already damaged. It could be if the thing was overheated, you might get lucky and only have to change the valve oil seals.

I’d be a little wary telling you to pay someone to fix it because these vans really depreciate badly and, to tell you the truth, the price you got yours for is about the going market value on old Chrysler minivans. I don’t really know why since they’re perfectly nice vans and I’d say if you’re going to use the van yourself, I’d definitely do the head repair and maybe even consider dropping in a junkyard engine and transmission. The junkyards are full of these!

Put a fork in it. It’s done, cooked and burned out.

I cannot put a fork in it yet!!! I need this car for a month. At any rate, this is getting better by the minute… this morning it started fine, went to work and at the end of the day the starter died… I tried hitting it for a quick revival but no go… you could hear the bendix turning but that was all folks. I had to get a ride back, I will grab a starter tomorrow morning and replace it right there In my clients house. What would be life without this wonderful challenges :slight_smile:

Hello Everyone!

I replaced the starter! The van tried to turn the engine over, then funny noise, then, if I try again… NOTHING! Just the noise of the bendix coming out and in with its typical whistle; so I thought, there is no way this brand new starter is dead too. So I turn the engine over just a bit by hand from the main pulley. The starter will try to crank again for a few seconds and then again the whistle and nothing else. From this point on, the starter will crank for a few seconds if I keep turning over the engine a bit. How is this possible? I never heard of a flywheel breaking teeth!!! That is the only explanation I have so far which is kind of fatal. Any thoughts on how I can “buy” 3 more weeks with this van before it goes to car heaven?

Any miracle solutions would be greatly appreciated!

Enjoy your day, I know I am :slight_smile:


How hard was the engine to turn from the main pulley? Did you need a big ratchet and a bowl of Wheaties.

I’m getting a sinking feeling that you have a main bearing in the process of seizing.

It was really not too hard to turn. I did it with my right hand (but I am very strong :slight_smile:

Why a main bearing would turn the engine with the starter a few seconds and then again once I turn the engine a little bit??? What would cause this? Is this the end???

As you all know; I could be wrong but I still say that the end is here or should be here. An old car that runs might get you from here to the next car that you can be proud of. If you try to keep this one running, it will cost more than it is worth. Abandon ship if you can. It would be good if all of our emergency funds could last long enough to cover ALL of our emergencies. We all have family, and some of them may be able to lend us money or three weeks worth of rides. I hope you have a good situation.

You’re Not Trying To Compress Coolant, Are You?
Is there any left in the reservoir?

Don’t spend a dime anymore on this vehicle except topping engine oil. You may find yourself with a tow bill between today and end of the month when it finally breaks down to deliver it to its resting place.

Good luck and hope for the best for you.

It sounds like you have lost some teeth on the flywheel ring gear. When the starter tries to engage at that location the pinion gear just spins. When you nudge the engine over to a good spot the starter can engage; skip over the bad spot; and possibly take more teeth off the ring gear.