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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I have a 2007 Grand Caravan SXT 3.8LT

Today I started randomly getting some big problems, it has a very weak sluggish start up, and there is what appears to be white steam coming from the exhaust. I say steam because it didn't linger like smoke, and was faint but consistent. Oil level still looked good and clean on the dip stick, no noticeable decline in radiator fluid, although this problem just happened today. The oil pan gaskets and valve cover gaskets have shown signs of seepage for a while now, hoping to get at least a year or two more out of this baby.

Any other signs I should look for to determine if its the head gasket or something else?

Currently reading these two codes -
P0420 - Catalytic Converter Below Threshold
P0306 - Cylinder 6 misfire detected

Thanks!
 

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Since the head gaskets on these vehicles are steel, it's really not possible for the gasket itself to fail, unless one of the head bolts has failed, either by stretching or breaking. What's actually more likely is that you have a cracked head, which would allow coolant into the cylinder. Does the exhaust smell like coolant? That's a dead giveaway. Coolant getting in the exhaust will also wreck the converter fairly quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Are there any ways to check for a cracked head? Is the engine un-fixable if the head is cracked?
 

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Yes, head gaskets do fail, especially if engine overheated.

Remove radiator cap, add coolant as needed. Start engine and look inside of the radiator. Looks for bubbles coming up, that would be a sign of head problems.

Those heads doesn't break easy.
 

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Are there any ways to check for a cracked head? Is the engine un-fixable if the head is cracked?
if the head is cracked it has to be replaced

if something was hot enough or violent enough to cause the head to crack, it's likely hurt or warped the engine block's gasket surface

it's usually just a gasket failure issue, i think it's a semi common engine issue on these vans

Start engine and look inside of the radiator. Looks for bubbles coming up, that would be a sign of head problems.
+1 to this, feel for "blow-by" as well, which will feel like air going tut-tut-tut-tut-tut out of the radiator as the engine is running
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Great, ill look under the radiator cap tomorrow morning after the van is cooled down. It's been burning oil for about a year now.

Anyone have experience with Steel Seal? Would you recommend this for my issue if there are bubbles coming up from radiator?

 

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There is conflicting information being supplied here. I have never seen a gasket actually fail on any modern engine using steel composition gaskets. The vast majority of times gaskets "fail" is due to a loss of tension in the fasteners, either through stretching, breaking, or improper torque, or because of serious head warping, usually caused by overheating. There have been a fair number of vehicles that have had problems with head gasket failures in recent decades due to poor engineering/under-engineering. The original VW diesels were one good example. The GM Northstars were another. In both cases the head bolts were too small and undertorqued. This is not typically an issue with the Chrysler V-6s. The head bolts on these engines are tight. I know, because I just installed a couple sets. The most likely scenario is that you have a cracked head simply due to age, but it could result from overheating as well. It's definitely repairable, especially since if it's cylinder 6, that's the front head and easiest to work on. Rebuilt heads are widely available on eBay for under $200. You can get the bolts and gaskets from Rockauto for ~$50 or less. Of course, if you have a mechanic work on this, it's going to cost much more, because it's fairly labor intensive, and other problems may be uncovered. Somebody was saying that the block might be warped. This is highly unlikely, unless there has bee serious overheating or abuse.
 

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Great, ill look under the radiator cap tomorrow morning after the van is cooled down. It's been burning oil for about a year now.

Anyone have experience with Steel Seal? Would you recommend this for my issue if there are bubbles coming up from radiator?

You can try it, but in my experience these products rarely work.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the insight!

How should I check to make sure it's a cracked head before buying the replacment parts (I'm gonna do it myself)? Is the coolant smell coming from the exhaust the only sign?

There is conflicting information being supplied here. I have never seen a gasket actually fail on any modern engine using steel composition gaskets. The vast majority of times gaskets "fail" is due to a loss of tension in the fasteners, either through stretching, breaking, or improper torque, or because of serious head warping, usually caused by overheating. There have been a fair number of vehicles that have had problems with head gasket failures in recent decades due to poor engineering/under-engineering. The original VW diesels were one good example. The GM Northstars were another. In both cases the head bolts were too small and undertorqued. This is not typically an issue with the Chrysler V-6s. The head bolts on these engines are tight. I know, because I just installed a couple sets. The most likely scenario is that you have a cracked head simply due to age, but it could result from overheating as well. It's definitely repairable, especially since if it's cylinder 6, that's the front head and easiest to work on. Rebuilt heads are widely available on eBay for under $200. You can get the bolts and gaskets from Rockauto for ~$50 or less. Of course, if you have a mechanic work on this, it's going to cost much more, because it's fairly labor intensive, and other problems may be uncovered. Somebody was saying that the block might be warped. This is highly unlikely, unless there has bee serious overheating or abuse.
 

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There is conflicting information being supplied here. I have never seen a gasket actually fail on any modern engine using steel composition gaskets.
Yes, you are providing conflicting information. Multi+layer metal head gaskets do fail. There is no sealing agents in between metal layers. As a matter of fact, you can re-use them if no other option available.

To reuse old gaskets, just clean them, aply Indian Head Shellac in between the layers as well as on top and bottom.

Good luck.
 

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Hey guys, I have a 2007 Grand Caravan SXT 3.8LT

Today I started randomly getting some big problems, it has a very weak sluggish start up, and there is what appears to be white steam coming from the exhaust. I say steam because it didn't linger like smoke, and was faint but consistent. Oil level still looked good and clean on the dip stick, no noticeable decline in radiator fluid, although this problem just happened today. The oil pan gaskets and valve cover gaskets have shown signs of seepage for a while now, hoping to get at least a year or two more out of this baby.

Any other signs I should look for to determine if its the head gasket or something else?

Currently reading these two codes -
P0420 - Catalytic Converter Below Threshold
P0306 - Cylinder 6 misfire detected

Thanks!
This is NOT head gasket.
It is likley your coil pack or spark plugs or cables. I will save you the money I had the EXACT issue and tried so many things. Changed pack and voila all good
 

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This is NOT head gasket. I had this exact issue and pulled my hair out.

save your money and change that coil pack asap

keep in mind I had just changed spark plugs and cables before discovering this, it is possible it could be spark plug on yours
Save your money and "do nor replace the coil pack....yet"

More likely than not, is not your coil pack.

Even if it is, do some testing first.
 

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Save your money and "do nor replace the coil pack....yet"

More likely than not, is not your coil pack.

Even if it is, do some testing first.
Well what is it than? lol you are chasing a head gasket or rad problem that has nothing to do with it. When the coil doesnt fire (or plug) it sets a misfire and the cat sensor detects it as well.

Yes test the 6 on the coil pack first. Then test the spark plugs. The ONLY reason I say its this is because I had the EXACT same codes and the exact same issue. After spinning around for a week with people telling me its everything under the sun I was ready to scrap the thing then decided to try the coil pack as it was only $10 at scrap... bingo, instant fix.

2 exact same codes, same symptoms, test your coil pack and plugs! I may not be an expert but I know this issue very well.
 

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You can ignore your cat code, but if #6 is not firing, that would account for the slugishness. How does it run once you get started. Just a hint, if #6 has been shut down by the computer, shut off van and then restart, #6 will be allowed to run again until the misfire count reaches a cutoff limit.

Finally, do you see smoke after a good run?

Finally, finally, and depending on mileage, you might want to look for a good used, and low mileage, replacement engine. Note, there should be thousands and thousands available. Some large yards offer a guaranteed installation service.

Finally, finally, finally, pull #6 plug and have a look at it.
 

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Well what is it than? lol you are chasing a head gasket or rad problem that has nothing to do with it. When the coil doesnt fire (or plug) it sets a misfire and the cat sensor detects it as well.

Yes test the 6 on the coil pack first. Then test the spark plugs. The ONLY reason I say its this is because I had the EXACT same codes and the exact same issue. After spinning around for a week with people telling me its everything under the sun I was ready to scrap the thing then decided to try the coil pack as it was only $10 at scrap... bingo, instant fix.

2 exact same codes, same symptoms, test your coil pack and plugs! I may not be an expert but I know this issue very well.

How do you explain this?

...it has a very weak sluggish start up, and there is what appears to be white steam coming from the exhaust. I say steam because it didn't linger like smoke, and was faint but consistent.
Giving him options/advice is fine, but asking him to spend money on something that might not solve his problem is a no-no.

My advice was not to hurry and buy the coil, but to do some testing first.

A coil pack might not be very expensive but, if it doesn't solve his problem, then is money wasted that could go somewhere else.

Next you might ask him to buy all five tires to see if that solve his problem.

Different parts might cause the same prolem. What fixed your problem might not (probably not) fix his problem.
 

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Drivin' Maniac
2002 Grand Caravan ES 3.8L
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Let's not panic the OP....o_O



White 'steam' coming from an exhaust during warmup from cold, is normal.

White 'steam' coming out of a fully warmed engine is not.



I say, try the junkyard coil. Also look for signs that a spark plug wire is arcing to 'earth'. (Burned spots have been reported here in the past)

One troubleshooting method is to spray down the spark plug wires and coils with water, in dim light, to see if you can induce arcing.
 

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How do you explain this?



Giving him options/advice is fine, but asking him to spend money on something that might not solve his problem is a no-no.

My advice was not to hurry and buy the coil, but to do some testing first.

A coil pack might not be very expensive but, if it doesn't solve his problem, then is money wasted that could go somewhere else.

Next you might ask him to buy all five tires to see if that solve his problem.

Different parts might cause the same prolem. What fixed your problem might not (probably not) fix his problem.
I cant explain the smoke other than it is EXACTLY the symptoms I had with a bad coil pack not firing on number 6. I dont have and explaination as to "why" only that his post is exactly the same thing I experieced. Not part of it, all of it including the exact same codes and the smoke.

A simple test light ($5) will tell you cylinder 6 is pooched.

I could guess sure but my eyes fell out reading his post how accurate it is to what I had and what I figured out.
 

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Let's not panic the OP....o_O

White 'steam' coming from an exhaust during warmup from cold, is normal.

White 'steam' coming out of a fully warmed engine is not.



I say, try the junkyard coil. Also look for signs that a spark plug wire is arcing to 'earth'. (Burned spots have been reported here in the past)

One troubleshooting method is to spray down the spark plug wires and coils with water, in dim light, to see if you can induce arcing.
Agreed, but he has said it just started.

Let's don't assume anything and wait for test results.

Hope for the best but be ready for the worst.
 

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Yes, you are providing conflicting information. Multi+layer metal head gaskets do fail. There is no sealing agents in between metal layers. As a matter of fact, you can re-use them if no other option available.

To reuse old gaskets, just clean them, aply Indian Head Shellac in between the layers as well as on top and bottom.

Good luck.
Not a good idea, LEVY. I'm surprised you're giving such bad advice. These gaskets contain embossed patterns which provide the "spring" to make the seal between the head and block. When the gasket is used, these are crushed and the spring effect is gone. This is why you never re-use head gaskets. This is auto mechanics 101, and you should know better. The sealing action of the gasket is not provided by any "sealant", and no sealant would have any meaning at the kind of pressures in a combustion chamber. Most gaskets have a coating to help fill very small imperfections in the surfaces and prevent any fluid migration. Now, I'm not saying you can't reuse a gasket, the safety margin is large on these relatively low performance engines, but considering they cost only a few bucks, why risk it?
 

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I cant explain the smoke other than it is EXACTLY the symptoms I had with a bad coil pack not firing on number 6. I dont have and explaination as to "why" only that his post is exactly the same thing I experieced. Not part of it, all of it including the exact same codes and the smoke.

A simple test light ($5) will tell you cylinder 6 is pooched.

I could guess sure but my eyes fell out reading his post how accurate it is to what I had and what I figured out.
If that coil section was bad, cylinder 3 wouldn't fire either, so there goes your theory. Test lights are misleading. They'll show a spark even when the cylinder isn't firing, if the voltage is escaping somewhere else.
 
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