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a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
04-22-2014, 08:06 PM
Post: #1
a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
I just got this 97 chry town & country mini van about 2 months ago. My questions are about the radiator and recharging the air conductioning.
1st there is a small leak just below the top of the radiator on the passenger side. So far the van has not been over heating. I had to add fluid a few times. There is this stuff on tv called flex seal. Will that stuff work as a stopgap measure until I can afford to replace the radiator. Also how hard is it to pull this radiator. I did a radiator job on a 69 Chevy 1/2 ton pickup but the pickup didn't have all the things in and around the radiator that the van does. Also with that small leak will there be a problem when the weather turns hot?
2nd question I had an air conditioning pressure check done. There is zero pressure. The auto teck that checked it thinks there is a leak. Can the system lose pressure over time if the van has sat not been used for a long time and there is no leak? If that is the case then will just recharging the system do it? I know were I can buy an refrigerant auto a/c recharge kit. It is just a question of what refrigerant is used in this model.

Steve
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04-22-2014, 09:20 PM (This post was last modified: 04-22-2014 09:25 PM by Rupe.)
Post: #2
RE: a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
You can try a commercially available "stop leak" product but typically the issue with a plactic radiator is it's cracking from heat over the years. (hey, it's 17 years old) IOW, you may slow or stop the leak but it may blow out when you least expect it. If you have the OH cam engine (3.0 ltr) you also risk a head gasket problem if it runs too hot. I know the radiator looks like a hard job but it's really not that bad once the fans are lifted out of the way. Aftermarket replacements are not all that expensive either. (under $150?)

As for your AC problems, if it's empty then there's a leak. If you can't pin it down visually (oil / damp spots?) the only way to find it is by doing at least a partial recharge. It uses R-134A in the system and the amount will vary. Recalling with front and rear AC (optional) it should be almost 4 pounds. Likely about 2.5 pounds with just a front system. Since the freon comes in 11 or 12 ounce cans these days just do the math. 3 cans is 33 - 36 ounces or just a shade over 2 pounds.... close enough. Be aware that a slow leak will not be something you can hear. If you can hear it then the system will be empty in a matter of minutes and certainly under an hour so work fast to find it. Also be aware that a rear AC option will have pipes under the floor on the passenger side, which may be rotten from years of road salt and rain water. That's something expensive to repair! The retaining bolts also rust in place at the condenser, which may mean the entire rear system will need to come apart for component replacement.

How do I know this? I have one!

BTW, here's a you tube video on the radiator job so you can see what you are getting into.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq_raHFhwY8
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04-23-2014, 07:21 AM
Post: #3
RE: a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
I watched the video about the radiator. 1st the van in question in the video was a Dodge. mine is a Chrysler. 2 I don't what the clearance is underneath. The town & country rides low to the ground, I may not fit underneath. 3 I have no means to lift the van up other then to change a tire. On the air conditioning I know there is air blowers in the back but I am not sure if there is an air conditioning condenser back there. If the pipes to the back condenser are bad is there a way to bypass the back condenser and get the front part working again. I need the air conditioning. My self and one of my room mates can't be in the summer heat long without medical problems popping up.

Steve
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04-23-2014, 08:52 AM
Post: #4
RE: a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
Dodge, Chrysler, & Plymouth are all pretty much the same except for the badges. If you think that you can do what you seen in the video you should be able to work on your van. That’s why Rupe posted that video.

If you have the jack that is used for changing the tire you can safely raise the vehicle. Put the van on a solid, level surface. Block the rear wheels to prevent rolling. Use the jack; as instructed in the owner’s manual, to raise one side of the van. Use wooden blocks or jack stands to hold it as you lower the jack. Repeat for the other side. Don’t let the other side on the jack. Lower it to a solid support before getting under the vehicle. You could continue this process by going to the rear of the van if you need the whole vehicle raised.

If you are unsure of any of this you may want to seek out a reputable garage? Either way, please let us know how you make out.

Thanks for using the forum,
Garner

Interested in Mining? Look here: Coal Mining, PA
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04-23-2014, 10:14 AM (This post was last modified: 04-23-2014 10:17 AM by Rupe.)
Post: #5
RE: a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
As Garner states (and I should have mentioned) the 96 - 2000 vehicles are identical other than trim options, and of course using the same engine / trany combinations. In my mind the only reason to go under the car is to reach the clamps for the lower hose, which on the 3.8 engine is under the AC compressor area. IOW, a bit tight from up top. You may gain enough room by driving the car up on a stack of short planks. (stacked with no air spaces) The key here is NOT to get a face full of coolant when you drain the system and NOT to lay in the mess, so do the bottom side early on in the process.

Now, before you dive into the project you may want to do a pressure test to confirm it's the radiator and not the water pump. On the 3.8 the water pump is right behind the AC and low down on the front side of the engine. Seeing as the AC is empty you could remove the compressor and the pump job would be so much easier! Same goes for access to that lower hose.

As for rear AC, if you have a blower back there then you have a rear AC / heater. Look up under the side behind the rear tire to follow the hoses / pipes and examine them for issues. They run the full length of the car on that side. In a pinch you can eliminate the heater hoses by making changes up front (not easy, but cheap) to conform to the model without this option. The AC the lines up front are molded and fork off to the rear. Since it's high pessure there is no easy way to eliminate the rear AC. IOW, replacing the front AC lines to by pass that is almost the same price as replacing everything to the rear.

One last curve ball in this game is the heater pipes for the rear that go behind the engine are up against the firewall and go fairly close to the exhaust. They are prone to rotting away every 6-8 years so good chance they have been replaced already but may be leaking again at that age. Looking in from the side that will be a coolant leak just behind the rear of the front tire on the passenger side. If this is the leak then post again and I can walk you through it. Not a fun job to say the least. This is why it's important to do the pressure test and confirm what's leaking BEFORE you start the job.
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04-23-2014, 05:51 PM
Post: #6
RE: a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
The heat is fine front and back. The mechanic that did the air conditioning pressure check was the one that spotted the leak in the radiator when he did a full safety inspection. What is my miss fortune is I had a 2 day window to get the safety check done and return the rig to the dealer if I found any problems. I had just enough fuel in the rig to get it home and I had other things to do, I was 4 days away from payday and the dealer was been a stinker. I was 2 days past the deadline when I spoke to him about what the safety inspection found. His words were. You are 2 days late and the rig is still drivable, deal with it. I mite have an out. My room mate is friends with the original owner of this used car dealership. the owners son took over. The farther mite make the son pay for the repairs to keep up the good image he built up as car salesman.
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04-23-2014, 08:58 PM (This post was last modified: 04-23-2014 09:02 PM by Rupe.)
Post: #7
RE: a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
A better shot may be the date of your safety inspection if it's clearly written on the sheet. Bring that sheet and the original warranty statement with you in person. Tell them you bought the car in good faith that everything was in order and that's all you are asking for. (don't cloud the issue with other details) If all else fails ask if they'd like to make a "good customer" or risk a call to the local Better Business Bureau? Be polite yet firm and see where that goes. If a service writter or sales person is your contact then you might ask to see a manager.

BTW, a car without AC is one thing but a coolant leak will eventually render the car undriveable. IOW, you might have to meet the guy half way here.
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05-07-2014, 02:15 AM
Post: #8
RE: a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
I had the radiator replaced today. The car dealership owner is tacking the radiator repair on to the end of the payments for the minivan. I don't mind it taking a month or 2 longer to pay it off as long as I have a good working cooling system. As for the AC/heater lines on the underside of the van. The lines are fine. While the van was up in the air getting the radiator replaced we inspected the AC/heater lines.

(04-23-2014 10:14 AM)Rupe Wrote:  As for rear AC, if you have a blower back there then you have a rear AC / heater. Look up under the side behind the rear tire to follow the hoses / pipes and examine them for issues. They run the full length of the car on that side. In a pinch you can eliminate the heater hoses by making changes up front (not easy, but cheap) to conform to the model without this option. The AC the lines up front are molded and fork off to the rear. Since it's high pessure there is no easy way to eliminate the rear AC. IOW, replacing the front AC lines to by pass that is almost the same price as replacing everything to the rear.
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05-07-2014, 09:43 AM
Post: #9
RE: a few questions on a 97 chry town & country
Thanks for the follow up. It sounds like you reached a workable soultion.
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