White smoke out of tail pipe.Under hood sprayed with antifreeze *almost felt like oil* Overflow tank has a Frothy head like a glass of cheep beer

Oh where to start. 1992 Dakota with the little 4cyl 2.5 in it. I bought this thing used about 6 months or so ago. So one the thermometer never worked and i don’t know if it was running that cold or if the Heat selector was just that rusted and it was stuck in cold and not hot like what is selected. Anyways last two times before today I have ran it and it start running a little rough like it was due for a tune up. but it wasn’t to bad a tad bit of lost of power then the second time well was pretty rough when i got home * only drive it 7 miles each way home from work.* Wouldn’t idle very well when it was cold. Well this morning i had to take the truck due to the car battery being dead. so i started it up and was running a little rough. i was thinking it was due to the angle the truck was parked at and that is when i should of listen to myself about just using the truck to jump start the car.

Anyways back on to topic i turned the last corner off to work and gave it some gas exiting the round about and white smoke came out the back. i thought i took the corner to hard at first. But when i got to work about 1/2 mile down the road and went to back into my parking spot That’s when it started pulling a James Bond Smoke screen show i almost took out the fence cause it was so thick. After i parked it i couldn’t keep the engine running its a stick shift and the darn parking brakes wouldn’t hold it so i shut it off and looked under the hood.

Liquid all over at first i thought i blew a oil line due to it feeling oily so i check the oil plenty of oil no sign of water thank goodness… Well i checked on it later when more day light was out. turns out it was antifreeze so i popped the cap off the radiator no coolant in the upper chamber. check the overflow and it was full of foam.

So my question is. Does this sound like the head gasket blew and its dumping in to one of the Cylinders instead of into oil channels i call them. hence no chocolate milk colored oil on the dip stick look black like time to change it. I checked it again later still no milky look to it. So would i be looking into just doing a head gasket or am i going to be looking at ring job? Bright side unlike my PT cruiser or my F-250 with the 460 at least i can pretty much leave the engine in this thing and rebuild it with all the room in there.

Anyways thanks for reading my story and question any ideas would be great. A lot of you helped me when my f250 just stop running on me and sure enough it was that little module on the distributor.


That sure sounds like a head gasket to me. Pressurized exhaust gasses must be escaping into the coolant and that’s what’s causing the foaming appearance. And coolant is probably moving the other way into the cylinders too during the intake phase.

Make sure to take a sample of the existing coolant before you add more, so you or or shop can test it for dissolved exhaust gasses. That would be the clincher that an engine rebuild is in your future.

Note: That would be a good time to fix that broken coolant temp gauge too.


Don’t jump the gun yet. It could be a head, gasket yes, but since the oil is not milky, check some things first. Having your antifreeze tested for exhaust gas is a good idea, compression check also. Could be as simple as a coolant leak and you let it go that you badly overheated.

Here is a tip, next time you get a car that acts like it has no thermostat, investigate. People don’t remove a thermostat without a reason. It is never a good reason.


When the engine is cold, remove the radiator cap.

If there’s no coolant in the radiator, fill it with water.

Start the engine and while the engine idles, watch the water in the radiator.

If bubbles begin to appear in the water, that’s an indication of a blown head gasket.



Buy this at napa auto parts. Read the instructions, use it and report the results to us, please

If all is well, the fluid will stay blue

In your case, it might turn yellow


“Like a cheap beer.” I resemble that remark.

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The gauge “works” just only when shes been sitting a long time. Think i’ll just pop the head off see whats going on. See if i can just get away with just a gasket job for now. Rebuild it when i got time. Its a good little truck and simple engine to work on :slight_smile:

Agreed on the thermostat. Longest single day drive in this thing was 32 or so miles. When i bought this thing was only meant mostly to run to the lumber yard or pick up some stuff i need a truck for or as a back up to my car lol. Guess my car is the back up now :wink: lol

LOL :smiley:

I’ll check this out. Willing to be more then anything i have a head gasket leak. hoping this weekend to pull the plugs see which one is wet or steam cleaned LOL

Thanks :slight_smile:

Best of luck there OP. Good for you for going the extra mile to keep your Dodge on the road.

I have a 1995 Dodge Caravan with this same exact motor. The 2.5 TBI motor is known for head gasket issues, especially leakage from cylinder #1 into the water jacket. This likely occurs because the original hard composite gasket becomes brittle over time. The replacement will either be a soft-faced graphite composite (Victor-Reinz) or MLS (Fel-Pro).

I actually did this job not too long ago on my van. The mileage at the time was just under 120,000. It had actually run poorly for some time, and would randomly overheat as well. I suspected that the head was cracked, so I bought another one from a junkyard and had a machine shop clean it up, resurface, and replace the cam plug, camshaft seal, and valve stem seals. In reality, it was the combustion armor around cylinder #1 which had cracked, though the head may have warped from repeated overheating.

On this motor, the head comes off with the intake and exhaust manifolds still attached, so you take apart the exhaust pipe before the cat. There are two very short coolant hoses, which connect the steel crossover pipe to a nipple coming out of the bottom of the cylinder head on one end, and to the intake manifold on the other end. I was never able to get at these until I pulled the head, so this would be a good time to change them. Also, since an engine that burns coolant is going to contaminate the oxygen sensor, I replaced that as well. And of course, you will want to replace the timing belt and tensioner, valve cover gasket, intake and exhaust gaskets, and of course use new head bolts.

yes the FWD van has a transverse motor layout vs the dakota but are the intake and exh manifolds similar or way different for both vehicles? both have same FI system? TBI?

I wouldn’t advise buying another cylinder head BEFORE determining what the actual problem is

The intake and exhaust manifolds are very similar, and may even be the same. When I was at the junkyard taking apart 2.5L TBI engines to find a non-cracked head, one of the vehicles I pulled the head from was a Dodge Dakota. That head had visible cracks, so I didn’t bother trying to pull the intake and exhaust manifolds from it. I did have to lay on my back underneath the truck, and take apart the exhaust pipe, just as I did on the FWD models.

Due to the orientation of the motor in your truck, removing the belt-driven accessories, and taking off the timing belt will be easier than on the Caravan.

And of course, I am not suggesting you buy another cylinder head at this time, unless you can get one with low miles, no visible damage, and for a reasonable price. I paid about $80 for the used head, from a Dodge Spirit with approximately 65,000 miles on it, and approximately $200 for the machine shop work. It was well worth it to me, because I needed to get the van running again ASAP. If time was not a factor, I would have first taken apart my engine, then found that the head was not cracked (only the head gasket itself was damaged) and maybe had the existing head resurfaced and saved a few bucks.