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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey there! I will be needing to replace the radiator in my 1987 Dodge Dakota. It's a 3.9 liter engine and the truck is a base line model without even air conditioning with only 155,000 miles. This truck was bought brand new by my dad and he took great care of it until he became bedridden and passed away last year. it wasn't ran for almost ten years total while he wa sick and just sat. All I did was put a new battery in it and it started right up and I replaced the tires. It is overheating and the hose that leads from the engine block past the firewall has blown twice. I looked under the cap and its full of brown gunk and the overflow is filled with what looks to be light brown mud. It takes forever to refill it since I guess there is so much buildup of whatever that stuff is. There has never been anything added to it like radiator sealant or cleaner. Nothing is leaking into the engine, transmission and I can't see any leaks really. There is no heat at all so might the water pump be bad or is it the heater core? The radiator itself does look bad as I see spots where the small fins have fallen out and are loose. I don't know too much about auto repair but enough I think to replace the radiator and hoses. I don't have the money to waste to pay someone to look at it and to get it flushed and this and that. I have read positive and negative things about that being done and it costs as much as a new radiator anyway and I am hoping to keep it under $200. Everything on the truck is OEM. And also, if i remove the radiator what should I be looking for to check to see if there may be other problems that I can fix? I would like to keep this truck running as long as possible. This truck has great memories with my dad in it and I hope to take my son out for a few more joy rides before going to the great junkyard in the sky.

So what would be the names of the hoses and other parts I need to get in order to do a complete radiator replacement and feel good that if the engine still overheats it isn't the radiator?

Thanks for all your help!
 

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You would need a radiator, upper and lower radiator hoses, water pump, two gallons full strength green coolant mixed with two gallons distilled water (probably more than you'll need, but always good to have extra), a new radiator cap, new thermostat, blue RTV gasket sealer (for water pump and thermostat housing mounts), heater core hoses in bulk length (I believe they are 5/8" diameter, but double check), worm screw clamps x10, coolant flush tee, large bucket/pan to catch 4 gallons water, Prestone coolant flush.

You will need to flush the cooling system first. Be aware though, that because the system is brown, you probably have an oil leak into the cooling system through a head gasket failure, or incredibly old coolant.

If your coolant looks like this



You have a bad head gasket. Don't bother flushing the system, you need more work on the engine than $200 will fix. If you want to take the time to fix it and are not worried about not having a running vehicle, take all the time you want to fix it, but do not drive it anymore.
 

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To the list add "thread sealant", and be SURE to mark where each bolt comes from!

While it's open - well, before it's open - look into the valve cover (open the oil filler and peek in there) and see how badly gunked it is.

If it's not too badly gunked, you may be good at that.

If it does have visible gunk buildup, I'd seriously consider popping the timing chain cover off and redoing the timing chain, adding the tensioner that Chrysler used in later years to keep that chain from jumping on you.

Eyeball that harmonic balancer. If it's not in great shape, now's a great time to replace it. Adds to the cost, but it's well worth it in the long run if you can afford it. (Got one ordered for my truck while I've got the radiator/forward off.)

While ordering the radiator - check the boneyards. If you get lucky, you can find the high performance radiator for our trucks (your 1987 and my 1988). I'd get the shroud off of it. It's rather unique in that it has three windows on one side with flaps to vent air into the engine bay when the truck is booking down the highway, but seals when it's the fan sucking air.

Keep in mind that the fan clutch may be questionable. Check it carefully.

If the coolant is gunked like that, you'd better plan on a couple of chemical flushes of the block. Also, pick up a factory service manual off Ebay and find the two drain plugs on the block, so you can flush the block out with a water hose, then drain all the city water out before putting the distilled water / antifreeze combo back in.

There's a bypass hose, and two heater hoses, plus a heater control valve. Good news, they're easy to get to.

While it's open, one consideration would be to replace the thermostat - it's probably in bad shape if the coolant is in THAT shape.

I had to order a new thermostat housing - couldn't find new bolts, the old ones broke off and we had to get the bolts EDM'ed out of the intake. Which brings another point - if you don't use thread sealant on all the bolts, use Loktite Blue on all of them, or at least anti-seize!

If the belts look good, skip them now, but put them in your budget. Put a weather eye on the smog pump - its belt is one of the two for the water pump.

Can I get a picture posted of the front of the motor? I'd like to see how the A/C delete was done on your truck.

Note: A lot of these are "While you're there" things, to avoid Justin Case and his cousin Aloysius Murphy from becoming intimate with your pocketbook later *grins*

RwP
 
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