Possible overheating problem


#1

Today I was driving my 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan in very slow traffic and it was about 80 degrees this morning. My temp gauge is usually at a little less than half but today it went up by only one notch. After driving for almost 2 hours, I got to my destination. After walking back to the car a few minutes after I parked, I noticed that there was a puddle of what I assume to be coolant under the engine. It appears to have sprayed out. I checked the coolant tank and it had a little bit more than the minimum required. I drove the car later and it did not happen again.The same thing happened about a year ago but I never looked into any further. Does anyone have any ideas on what might be the issue.


#2

Do you mean that normally the dashboard coolant temperature gauge is at around 1/2 the full scale, but today when this happened it only made it up to 1/4 or so of the full scale, even after driving it for 2 hours?

You might have a thermostat on the fritz, but it is also quite likely you have a coolant leak and your engine coolant level is low. When that happens the sensor can be out of the coolant, just sitting in the air inside the pipe, so you don’t get an accurate reading of the coolant temperature.

Checking the coolant level in the plastic bottle is a good start, but it is necessary to check the radiator level too. It is possible for the bottle to be full, but the radiator to be empty. And it is the radiator that supplies the coolant to protect your engine. Suggest to not start the engine again until the radiator coolant level is confirmed to be ok.


#3

George is right. I will add that you might need a new radiator cap.


#4

If you want to make more progress on your own, you’ll need to figure out where the leak is coming from when you do see coolant.

Otherwise, you could bring the car in for a cooling system pressure test. You might replace the radiator cap first before taking that step, as it’s usually cheap.

As others have said, you’ll need to keep an eye on the levels in both the overflow tank and the radiator while this is being sorted out. Do not open the radiator cap when the car is hot, though!