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2002 Venture Overheating and Leaking Coolant


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MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 23, 2012, 1:22 PM

Post #1 of 64 (3906 views)
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First off I'd like to thank everyone that helps out here. It's much appreciated!

We have a 2002 Chevy Venture with the 3.4. About a week ago the heater would only blow cold air so figured it needed a thermostat. I put it off for about a week since it wasn't overheating. Plus my wife is a teacher in town and only has to drive a few blocks each day. I drove it to the auto parts store and finally started overheating. On the way there I noticed the temperature gauge would sometimes spike with slower speeds and go back down with higher speeds. The heater would also blow hot and the gauge would drop when going fast. It wouldn't do that all the time though. At times, even while going fast, it would still overheat. I pulled over once when the needle was getting up there and shut it down. I waited a couple minutes and started it back up. The heater blew hot and temp went down. I figured all of this was symptoms of the thermostat until I stopped at the auto parts store and noticed steam coming from the engine compartment but couldn't tell exactly where it was coming from.

When I returned home I swapped the thermostat and tried bleeding the system. The bleeder screw by the thermostat housing was seeping coolant but the one by the water pump just had air coming out of it and continued to only blow air. No coolant is being sucked in from the overflow tank even when the temperature gauge was getting up there. The radiator fans are blowing. The heater is still blowing cold and engine is still overheating. There is a coolant leak that is coming from somewhere below the throttle body or kind of to the rear of the thermostat housing. I can't see exactly where it is coming from. All I can see is steam coming up from that area. If you are looking at the engine from under the hood it is coming from the lower rear right.

From all the reading I have done I'm guessing it's the lower intake or possibly the head gasket? There's no antifreeze in the oil or vice versa. Are there any small hoses in that area that may be leaking? If a head gasket blows would enough coolant shoot out the side to cause the steam? I've heard that's possible with a blown intake gasket. You can tell that it has had some very light seepage out of the intake towards the front over the years but nothing serious. I've also had to add about a quart of oil every 3000 miles over the past few years. There just seems to be a bunch of light seepage out of quite a few gaskets. Not sure if any of this is related but you can just tell that many gaskets could stand to be replaced.

The van has 140,000 miles on it and it has been a great van. We bought it when it had 30,000 and the only thing I have had to do to it was replace the ac condenser and the battery (if a battery even counts). We are going to be looking for a new vehicle soon but I would like to fix it to get more out of it when we do sell it. I would really like to get a few more months out of it. Heck, if I replace all gaskets the wife may have to keep it for another 5 years! I'm pretty sure I'd be living on the streets if I told her no new vehicle.

I could try and take a video of the area where it seems to be leaking and post it on youtube if it would help.

If it is the intake should I go ahead and replace the head gaskets while I'm down there?

Sorry for the long post. I just wanted to make sure I hit everything. If I need to elaborate on anything, please let me know. Any help would be appreciated!


Thanks!

Brian


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 1:49 PM

Post #2 of 64 (3888 views)
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Sorry sport - I couldn't read all that but the subject line says it all concisely.

It's going to overheat when coolant level from leaking goes low for any reason. Pressure test it and isolate the leak and proceed from there.

Once sure as best you can replace whatever is needed. Know that overheating is the #1 cause of blowing head gaskets and warping or worse to them so know as much as possible before you really get expensive only to find there's more.

Post your findings as best you can and we can go from there,

T
_________________________________________
Long retired now


MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 23, 2012, 2:31 PM

Post #3 of 64 (3879 views)
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Thanks Tom. I'm not surprised that you couldn't read all of my long post! I knew it was too long when I typed it but wanted to make sure I hit on everything.

From what I have read it is more than likely the intake. I've scoured the web and have seen quite a few people say that they had a leak below the throttle body and it ended up being the intake but I guess it's possible it could be the head gasket.

I've got a buddy who is a mechanic for Altorfer Cat coming over tonight to help me diagnose the problem.

If it ends up being just the intake should I go ahead and replace the head gaskets while I'm down there?

Thanks again!


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 3:03 PM

Post #4 of 64 (3868 views)
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It's my fault - my mind just can't stay focused that long. Also been out of this biz since the Edsel was still around (smile) and virtually all engines were cast iron and didn't do these horrors so easily.

The use of plastic for manifolds etc. just blows my mind and the dissimilar metals don't cooperate well in adverse conditions and fail which is why that was never done in old school designs. How nice that close to Saran wrap is used for some gaskets too!

The deal is that the lighter the parts the faster it doesn't need extra fuel to run cold for anywhere near as long and emissions are WAY down because of things like that and MPGs are up but MILES PER ENGINE stinks. At $10 bucks a gallon I'll pay that vs a new engine every so often!

I have a lot of respect for diyers who ask and find out as much as they can first before wasting too much money at guessing or tossing parts in hopes of hitting on the right one. Much better to take the time to hit it right the first time and always was really.

The regulars here are some smart tacks and do know some common failures of a much wider variety than I do.

One more on leaking coolant - watch out if there's a chance of it getting into a cylinder causing 'hydraulic lock' and then the fun really starts. Pull plugs if that's even a chance and it should spit out without more damage.

Today is so much more about diagnosing first and if folks have to pay for that they still have the option to tackle it themselves or just pay for the pros to do it.

Take care,

Tom


Discretesignals
Veteran / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 3:50 PM

Post #5 of 64 (3861 views)
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Usually the lower intake manifold gaskets leak on those. Fel-pro had a perma-dry set that replaces the plastic carrier of the intake gasket with a metal carrier. Don't let it go to long because if the coolant leaks into the lifter valley, it can cause the camshaft to break.





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.


nickwarner
Veteran / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 4:38 PM

Post #6 of 64 (3852 views)
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If you don't have a pressure tester but think its an external leak, put UV dye in the system. They sell it at any parts store. Run the engine for a little bit (keeping a good eye to be sure its not overheating) and in a somewhat dark area shine a black light on it. You can get a black light bulb at most novelty stores like Spencers or Hot Topic. The dye glows under a black light and will show the fresh leakage. If its just the intake I wouldn't bother doing the head gaskets. More trouble and expense than its worth for something thats still ok.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 5:01 PM

Post #7 of 64 (3850 views)
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Good one Nick. BTW - they sell bulbs (regular) you can just put in anything or a trouble light at Home Depot here and probably other "home centers" so not hard to find - at least here in MA,

Tom
_________________________________________
Long retired now


MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 23, 2012, 5:44 PM

Post #8 of 64 (3845 views)
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Thanks for the great replies! I enjoy tackling jobs and learning new things along the way. It's a rewarding feeling knowing I was able to do it myself and a great feeling knowing how much money I saved!


I do have some dye for the ac system and a blacklight. I purchases those I was having problems with an ac leak. Will the ac dye work or do I need the kind made for the cooling system? If I remember right the coolant dye is purple? Does it matter? I'm sure purple would be easier to see in antifreeze but will the green hurt anything?


I do have a little experience with the 3.4 as I replaced the intake gasket on a friends 2000 grand am a few years back. I guess the only difference is the amount of elbow room but that is a huge difference!


It's guys like you that allow us diy guys to accomplish our goals. I'm okay at repairing what's broke. I just lack much of the knowledge that is needed to diagnose the problem and could not of done many of the repairs without the dedicated and friendly people on the net.

One thing I might be able to do is to carefully allow it to warm up and take the air cleaner duct off. By doing so I just might be able to get a closer look at where it's leaking from. There are some small hoses around the same area so maybe I'll get lucky. I had better cross all fingers and all toes though because I have some huge doubts!

Thanks again and I'll report back with any findings.


Discretesignals
Veteran / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 7:38 PM

Post #9 of 64 (3826 views)
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Engine coolant already has dye in it.

I can guarantee if you see coolant without pressure testing leaking out between the intake and heads you'll be pulling the intake. I haven't as of yet seen a 3.1L or 3.4L head gasket externally leak coolant.





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

(This post was edited by Discretesignals on Feb 23, 2012, 7:45 PM)


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 7:57 PM

Post #10 of 64 (3813 views)
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Quote
I can guarantee if you see coolant without pressure testing leaking out between the intake and heads you'll be pulling the intake. I haven't as of yet seen a 3.1L or 3.4L head gasket externally leak coolant.


I'll second that.................




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 23, 2012, 8:16 PM

Post #11 of 64 (3804 views)
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Thanks for the replies. I was really wondering whether it was the head gasket or the intake so it really helps knowing that two of you have never seen an external head gasket leak on the 3.4. It seems there have been PLENTY of intake leaks on these engines so seems highly likely to be the culprit. I can't complain considering we've owned for for 5 or 6 years and it now has 140,000 and the only issue I've had was an ac condenser leak. Overall it has been a great van and feel pretty fortunate about that.

I haven't had a chance to look again this evening but am going to here soon. Hopefully once I pull the air duct I can get a better look at things. Considering where it seems to be coming from I don't see it being one of those small hoses although it is slightly possible.

This couldn't have happened at a worse time. We have our house on the market and I hate having the van pulled in the garage with it torn apart. If I had a big outbuilding that would be one thing. Problem is, my garage is small and with the van in it it looks tiny. I guess I could always push it out into the driveway before a showing.

You guys are great and I greatly appreciate any and all advice!


nickwarner
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Feb 23, 2012, 9:00 PM

Post #12 of 64 (3795 views)
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Glad we can help. I'm with the rest of the guys, I've never seen a 3.4 head leak externally. Since you've done an intake on the same engine before, you know whats involved. In a Venture chassis its a good deal more challenging simply because of the design of the vehicle. Its something you'll utter many an unkind word at while doing the job. AC dye is incompatible with coolant. But try as you were saying, pulling the air ducting off when its warmed up and shining your blacklight on it. The stuff flouresces quite well and is obvious to see. If anything comes up during this project let us know and one of us will have an answer for you. This is such a common thing to have happen to these motors that all of us do these regularly. Nothing we can't talk you through.


MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 23, 2012, 10:08 PM

Post #13 of 64 (3784 views)
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I just got finished letting it warm up so I could take another look. After taking the air duct off I was able to get a little better view. After letting it warm up for a bit I noticed a trickle running down. I was able to definitely tell it is the intake. Once I shut the van down I could hear the hissing. It wasn't steaming as much as it was yesterday but was able to see a little bit of it. I then also noticed some tiny air bubbles leaking along the intake gasket about halfway up.

We have a showing tomorrow so will probably start tearing into over the weekend. I just hope all goes well. I've only tore this far into an engine twice. Once an intake on the same engine and once a new head on a Sunbird. I just hope all goes well.

I'm gald I have you all here standing behind me!

Are there any special tools, sealer or anything specific I'll need? I live in a small town with no parts store so would like to get everything I need all at once.

At least after doing the intake, along with other new gaskets, I shouldn't have to worry about it leaking so much oil. I will also be able to get at the one rear spark plug that I had put off since last fall. Cool

Is there anything else I should do while I have stuff out of the way?

Thanks!


Brian


nickwarner
Veteran / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 10:13 PM

Post #14 of 64 (3782 views)
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The FelPro problem solver kit comes with a tube of the sealant you need and directions of where to put it. Its an excellent kit and I've never had a comeback from it. Special tools won't be needed. There are some items that make the job easier, but aside from a 3/8 drive torque wrench nothing special or extremely pricey is needed. Be sure to change the thermostat when you do this and keep all things as clean as possible. Let us know how it goes for you.


Discretesignals
Veteran / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 10:18 PM

Post #15 of 64 (3781 views)
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1. Replace the injector o rings
2. Felpro Permadry kit comes with a tube of black silicone for the china walls
3. Torque wrench for the rocker and intake bolts. Don't break those rocker bolts
4. Keep the push rods in order. Exhaust rods are longer than the intake.
5. Torque the intake to the specs. You'll need a 10mm crows foot to torque the lower intake side bolts.
6. Clean everything the best you can and don't leave any rags under the intake. Shop vac works good when cleaning up the head surfaces with a scraper.
7. Visually inspect the intake ports and on top of the intake valves for any foreign objects before laying the lower intake on.
8. Use common sense and don't be afraid to ask questions.





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

(This post was edited by Discretesignals on Feb 23, 2012, 10:19 PM)


nickwarner
Veteran / Moderator


Feb 23, 2012, 10:21 PM

Post #16 of 64 (3776 views)
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9. When this runs perfect you buy the first round. And we drink top shelf.


MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 23, 2012, 11:18 PM

Post #17 of 64 (3773 views)
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You have to remember who's doing the work. I can see it running when I'm finished but I'd leave out the perfect part!

I do have a 3/8 torque wrench but will need a 10mm crows foot.

So my shopping list...

1. Felpro Intake Gasket Set
2. Fuel Injector O-Ring Set
3. 10mm crows foot
4. A bottle of Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon (I'll have to blow the dust off of the puppy)


I can't say how long it took when I did the intake on the Grand Am because I did it at the friends house and was at it off an on over the course of a week. About how many hours (or days) do you estimate the van taking for a novice mechanic?

Do you think I should still do a compression check for a blown head gasket before tearing into it? I looked for air bubbles in the radiator and overflow tank and didn't see any. No coolant to oil contamination and no white exhaust. Anything to worry about?


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 24, 2012, 1:35 AM

Post #18 of 64 (3769 views)
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Do you think I should still do a compression check for a blown head gasket before tearing into it? I looked for air bubbles in the radiator and overflow tank and didn't see any. No coolant to oil contamination and no white exhaust. Anything to worry about?



Takes more than just a compression test for diagnosing a head gasket - you need check it all ways unless clearly something obvious.

BTW:

*How long will it take? No telling what can foul up or if you have the tools to get out of a jam with tons of things.

*#4 May be the best tool in the boxCrazy

*Site sponsor (joking) is this stuff!


Used for gasket removal, cleaning battery cables, rust penetrating and when consumed you won't care if the job comes out right or not!

* If just one crow foot see if the flare nut style will do as it will get a better grip. I think Sears has them or find a tool truck as I don't see them everywhere or not looking hard enough. Some parts stores are a maybe, especially NAPA if nearby you will get the one you want.

Waiting for the success story,

Tom


MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 24, 2012, 12:08 PM

Post #19 of 64 (3751 views)
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*#4 May be the best tool in the boxCrazy

*Site sponsor (joking) is this stuff!


Used for gasket removal, cleaning battery cables, rust penetrating and when consumed you won't care if the job comes out right or not!



Ha! Good stuff Tom!

I know since I've seem to have found the problem I need to stop researching and worrying. When looking around last night I ran across a few people who have had the exact same symptoms I'm having, besides seeing the leaking intake, and their problem ended up being a head gasket. One guy had the 3.4 and it was overheating. He didn't have any coolant in the oil, no white exhaust, no heat through heater vents and coolant wasn't being sucked in through the overflow tank. Pretty much the exact same symptoms as me except the noticeable intake leak. His ended up being the head gasket.

Would a bad intake gasket keep the thermostat from opening up and not allowing the coolant from the overflow tank to be sucked into the engine? Let's say it was the head gasket that blew first. Would that allow pressure to build and in turn cause the intake gasket to blow?

I know that we have found the problem but do the signs and symptoms point only to the intake? I'd just hate to tear it down ,and get it put back together, only to find out the head gasket is also bad.

Does anyone have any comments that would slow down the hamster wheel that's been turning in my head? Crazy

There's a small shop here in town. I might see if he can run a combustion leak test on it for me just to be sure. Or, should I even worry about it and just stick with the intake?

Either way, I plan to start tearing into it tomorrow.

Thanks!


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 24, 2012, 12:21 PM

Post #20 of 64 (3748 views)
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Nobody said blown head gaskets were uncommon in that engine. They just don't leak externally. The intake manifold leaking is very common




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 24, 2012, 12:29 PM

Post #21 of 64 (3745 views)
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You have to roll the dice on the head gasket and do checking before you have things all apart. Even if known to be common doesn't mean it absolutely will go or be bad.

Absolutely if you do go there send them out to be checked out at a machine shop so you don't waster a ton of time to just go back again.

It has overheated and things don't like that. Just remember that head gaskets are sealing all fluids they carry and the seal for compression and could fail in any way that they are there for meaning coolant in oil, coolant out the side, loss of compression noted between two cylinders or out the side - anything.

And old saying is to "Measure Twice, Cut Once" still holds true,

Tom


MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 25, 2012, 3:51 PM

Post #22 of 64 (3721 views)
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I haven't had a chance to start tearing into yet but plan to tomorrow. The local shop was closed down yesterday and also today so wasn't able to get it checked out. I honestly don't believe they head gasket is leaking at all though but I guess anything is possible.

I mentioned we plan on getting rid of it in a few months. Let's say for some reason we decided to keep it for a few more years. Would anyone then recommend replacing the head gasket while I'm at it or is it still "if it's not broke don't fix it"? With it being such a commom problem I can't help but think that I should replace it. I'm a diy though and don't like going on a gut feeling when it comes to repairs I know little about. It's just after all the reading I have down it seems like a head gasket is inevitable and especially with my luck! Any other thoughts on replacing the head gasket if I plan on keeping the van even if it's fine? The van has 140,000 if that makes a difference. If the answer is still no I promise not to mention the head gasket again!

When I went to start it yesterday and again this morning to head down to the local shop it didn't want to start but did once I gave it some gas. Once it started there was some white smoke which I assume was just condensation in the exhaust. It went away after driving it a bit. The local shop is close by. That, along with the cold temps outside, didn't allow the temp gauge to go past the halfway mark. I'm not taking it anywhere to where it has a chance to overheat. It has pretty much been parked once it started overheating the other day. Will an intake gasket leak cause poor starting?

On a good note..... When I replaced the thermostat I also serviced the transmission. It had a small drip from the pan gasket. The new one took care of the leak and it is shifting a lot smoother. It was never jerking or anything but it just feels better. I guess this means nothing until I get it up and running again!

Thanks again guys. I'm anxious to start the tear down tomorrow. I've got the digital camera all charged up and ready to go. I'll probably take more pictures tomorrow than I have in the past two years!


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 25, 2012, 5:25 PM

Post #23 of 64 (3714 views)
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Hmmm - This white smoke you noticed??!! Yes could be plain normal or an early sign in that it goes away. How cold are you talking and was this thing outside or in a garage? I don't see that from a garaged car of my own (never freezes in garage here) with all the ranges of temps and humidity that could happen over the course of the year.

You might even smell that it's not just gassy (shouldn't do that either) but that odd distinct odor of antifreeze. The guys have said this does have a predisposition for it AND you've overheated so unless you want practice going back (things go faster the second timeMad) and you have the time go for it and would be a nice selling point to me anyway if you documented it as "preventative" if nothing else.

Why it doesn't start right up is possibly another issue not related to any of this - can't say right now until it's all done then if that continues would be a separate thing to deal with.

About now I'm going to say go for it while you are tearing into it now. Put PB on anything now that might give you a hard time,

Tom


MarineGrunt
Enthusiast


Feb 25, 2012, 8:13 PM

Post #24 of 64 (3706 views)
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It was parked outside and got down to about 15 degrees last night and was probably 18 degrees when I started it up. I watched the neighbors pull out of their driveway a little while ago and their car smoked a bit as they were driving down the road. They have a newer Taurus. It only got up to about 25 today. So maybe it's just the cold temps?

I did smell it last night and didn't seem to notice any distinct odor. I don't really go around huffing exhaust fumes all that often so I'm not really sure what smell I'm really looking for. To be honest it was my first huff of exhaust. I'm still too young to really have a bucket list but I can guarantee you that sniffing exhaust fumes wouldn't have be on it! It seemed to smell just like any other exhaust.

A few years ago the van would crank over a few times before starting. I ended up putting a fuel pressure regulator on it and it took care of it. My work car and my sister's car did the same thing and a fuel pressure regulator took care of both of those too. Over the past 6 months or so the van kind of started doing the same thing just not as bad as what it did last night and this morning. I've never had to give it some gas. Maybe it's just the fuel pressure regulator again.

I'm really considering going ahead and doing the head gaskets. I'm off of work for a couple weeks and have the time. Once I get back to work I'll be working 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hour days for a few months and will have no time so it would be worth the peace of mind. The only problem is, with having the house for sale, I'm gonna have to push it in and out of the garage when a realtor shows our house. Does the engine have to be jacked up from underneath during this process? If so, I'm gonna have to figure something else out. Or, if it does, could I just support it from the top before I push it out? I can't wait to move out of this house so I can have a bigger garage!

I'd feel a lot better once we do sell it if I know the head gasket had been replaced and there is nothing to worry about. Whoever buys a van with over 140,000 miles is more than likely going to be a family and a family who is quite possibly strapped for cash. I would feel horrible if they bought it and a month later the head gasket blew on them. I'm sure it's a very expensive job if taken somewhere to get it done since these vans can be such a pain to work on.

Probably not going to start on it until Tuesday morning now. Just found out that we have a showing tomorrow and another one Monday.

Thanks Tom. I really do appreciate all your time involved in giving me advice.


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator


Feb 25, 2012, 8:19 PM

Post #25 of 64 (3705 views)
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You're trying to diagnose everything all at once and you really can't do that. You have a know leak at the intake and that has to be repaired first so the system can build pressure before you are going to have any idea if it has a head gasket problem also.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.





2002 Venture Overheating and Leaking Coolant


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$4,490
2010 Toyota Prius
$17,496
2010 BMW 328
$26,980




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