Van Troubles (Yeah, I know...) - OT


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Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Apr 17, 2013 - 10:59pm PT
Just got on board here but I have learned to listen to hoss julia. :D Hope things go well Happie. Will you be at Face Lift? I guess not if yo driving all the way to the east coast. Best, lynnie
Captain...or Skully

Apr 17, 2013 - 11:00pm PT
Never turn the heat off. This gives just a bit of extra cooling for the engine. Khanom is right. If it leaks, the whole system is compromised.

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Apr 17, 2013 - 11:51pm PT
Will you be at Face Lift? I guess not if yo driving all the way to the east coast. Best, lynnie

Especially since she can only drive 100 miles at a time.

Happie, seriously, ditch that piece of junk. It's done. I have experience in this arena. If you want to get back East, that thing ain't going to do the job.

My advice? Get a job in Flagstaff. It's a cool town, great location, beautiful area. You could do a lot worse.

Best of luck.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 18, 2013 - 12:04am PT
As may be recalled, the van had an overheating issue last fall. After much help in the forums, I got coolant system check which indicated the radiator cap was bad, and it was replaced.

There has been NO leaking while the car sits, no dripping when it is running and standlng. It overflowed - as I wrote- when it went right to the top on a hill and I could not get safely off the road before it hit the line.

The coolant ON the GROUND has EACH TIME(twice) come out of the overflow hose.
I have SAID I am calling mechanics TOMORROW MORNING. I SAID the reason I was asking for advice was to aid me when I speak with the mechanics. I never said I expected anyone to perform a telepathic diagnosis.

Dude - seriously. F*#k off. If reading my thread raises your blood pressure so much that you cannot control the way you speak to me, then do yourself a favor and don't click on the thread.

Trad climber
Where the Hoback and the mighty Snake River meet
Apr 18, 2013 - 12:10am PT
(WTF is Eric's problem?)

Reading comprehension, meh, it's a lost art, but really?

Apr 18, 2013 - 12:10am PT
WOW. Just WOW.


I'm hoping the caps makes that clear. I wish you the best of luck but this is a recurring theme with you and your vehicles. You know they do have vehicle forums out there in cyberland. Maybe ask those folks as well.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 18, 2013 - 12:13am PT
Whew, girl. Take a deeeep breath. Sorry to hear.

Trad climber
Where the Hoback and the mighty Snake River meet
Apr 18, 2013 - 12:27am PT
eh well happie you got some great advice before this turned into an I-told-you-so chest thumping fest.

Seriously? "Just buy a newer better vehicle" I think if someone were to tell me that over my 22 year old car, I would punch them.

ya think I'd be drivin this junker if I could afford anything else?

Damn, bunch of rich pussies who don't know, never did, or forgot what it's like to REALLY dirtbag. On your own, with no back up. I personally would love to have a Tacoma with a HARD SIDED SHELL (Bears)but have never even been close to affording one.

When my trusty Accord finally dies, I will NOT have the money to replace it, and plan on asking my Mom or brother to co-sign a used car loan for me. If I can find steady enough work I can stand, and that is a big if.


Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
Apr 18, 2013 - 12:31am PT
Sooo why be mean to Happie???

She has a beater van and she's trying to fix it.

Jeez. No reason to attack her.

Happie, overheating is diagnosable. Toughest thing is finding a good shop... Ask around.

Best of luck to u
The user formerly known as stzzo

Sneaking up behind you
Apr 18, 2013 - 12:38am PT
There has been NO leaking while the car sits, no dripping when it is running and standlng. It overflowed - as I wrote- when it went right to the top on a hill and I could not get safely off the road before it hit the line.

It overflowed b/c it overheated.

"leaking" isn't always visible. Sometimes it's a drip onto the ground, sometimes it's a drip onto something hot which then evaporates, sometimes it's "steam" straight out of a hole (not visible steam, but evaporation directly from a hole in the system).

"leaking" could be going into the interior of the van from the heater core -- invisibly onto the floor, into the heater fan box, etc.

So, it could very well be "leaking" invisibly when the car sits, when it is standing, and / or when it is running.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Apr 18, 2013 - 12:41am PT
Okay all you troubleshooters, I heard this van running just before she left on the road. The engine sounds good. Actually it sounds great. Throaty, even and strong as it should. It started instantly with authority and it sounded perfect with no trace of a misfire. I highly doubt that she has a head gasket problem.

100 miles before it starts to heat up? Hmm...

I haven't turned wrenches for a while but I would suspect a combo of a clogged up radiator and a leaking water pump shaft seal (at the point now where it leaks under pressure.)

Good luck and safe travel Terrie.

Edit in response to above: It's not really a beater van. Looks good and sounds good. As I recall Terrie told me it was a new engine when she bought it.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Apr 18, 2013 - 01:01am PT
How is your oil looking, water in the oil will turn the oil into a milkshake light brown color. Look at the inside of the oil cap on the engine, water evaporating from the oil will leave a milky ring.

This sounds like more of the same problem from your trip out west, hard to believe a head gasket would be the problem, but if you did not drive too much over the winter it could be. A trip across country will certainly reveal the problem, hopefully near civilization.

Apr 18, 2013 - 01:11am PT
Seriously? "Just buy a newer better vehicle" I think if someone were to tell me that over my 22 year old car, I would punch them.


I don't know you and you don't know me. So before you call me a rich pussy how about getting some facts you arrogant sh!te. i never said "new" I said better. There's a big difference. I drive an 88 Toyota with 330,000 miles on it. I would drive it coast to coast any day. But I also know how to fix the things that go wrong with it. I've been a dirtbag living on the road for over 1/4 of my life on this planet. So how's that foot taste.

Trad climber
phx AZ
Apr 18, 2013 - 02:03am PT
Ok - couple of ?? Running a v8 - right ? 2nd - how long after your 1st overheat episode did it overheat again? It sounds like you found the problem, got and used good advice and fixed your van in the past ( before JT) and are now again overheating( after JT }. Is this correct? Think back to when your steed did not give you problems at all( time wise). Engine cooling is one of two items; 1: coolant and sufficient volume thereof and 2: flow of coolant past required parts that heat up and need cooling down to avoid material failure. I always look to make sure radiator is full and water pump is pumping( engine running after a bit of running and look into top of radiator with cap off, you should see coolant sorta moving about to the left or right -- turbulence . If the radiator is clogged up or the water pump is not pumping you will not see any turbulence when you look into the opening of the radiator. Thermostat must be good also (opening of thermo allows water to circulate in the system. Overview -- coolant , sufficient -- good, Waterpump and radiator, working and providing adequate flow -- good. Thermostat opening allowing flow of coolant --good. Hope this helps
John M

Apr 18, 2013 - 02:10am PT
Edit: wasn't talking about you jabbas

Ease up. Julia just gets tired of people bagging on Terri. Why do people have to be pissers on these threads. If you don't want to help Terri, then how about just shutting up. She first bought a beater vehicle. It gave her a bunch of trouble and died pretty quick. She saved her money and did her due diligence and bought a much better vehicle. She doesn't know that much about vehicles and hopefully some day she will learn. She is learning, But she lived in NYC for years without needing a vehicle, and now has some catching up to do.

Good luck Terri with fixing it. Hopefully yourfinancial situation will improve soon, so these little adventures aren't quite so trying.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Apr 18, 2013 - 02:50am PT
If you're going to live in your vehicle, you need a vehicle that works

This was my knee jerk....any chance of offloading the non-mobile mobile unit for an on-purpose non-mobile unit?

From my POV as a fairly solvent/FT employed DINK, the van plan has always seemed really spendy every time I've priced it. Is there a cheaper way to rent/find temp. housing and run a cheaper and more reliable economy rig (or so close that it's not needed) and ditch the unreliable albatross? Not trying to be judgey...just a nudge if you're looking for one. I've not really tried to walk that walk.
John M

Apr 18, 2013 - 03:10am PT
I was going to suggest a summer job at one of the national parks, but she still has the pooch and those don't go to well in national parks. Without the dog they can be a great way to make some money as many jobs come with housing. Tuolumne Meadows is fabulous in the summer. The Grand Canyon is pretty danged hot, but oh so gorgeous. Summer job.. get laid off at the end of the summer with some money in your pocket.
Juan Maderita

Trad climber
"OBcean" San Diego, CA
Apr 18, 2013 - 05:54am PT
Thanks for opening your OP with year/make/model/engine. Bonus points for following with "Issue: Running Hot"

There are many possible sources of the problem. And it may be more than one problem, which compounds the difficulty of diagnosing.

I'm also reading the issue as running hot. The temp gauge reads high when it seems there is sufficient coolant in the radiator. It seems that the boil over is when you shut off the engine, subsequent to running hot.

Re-read the old thread from your previous problems. Lots of info in there. Coolant to water ratio in excess of 50% will cause running hot. Ethylene glycol doesn't dissipate heat vety well. You have added coolant, so re-check the ratio with a hydrometer. If you haven't already purchased one, a hydrometer is under $10. A refractometer is more accurate and some shops will be able to test your coolant with that.

Improper ignition timing can cause running hot. Not a likely cause in your case, and you would have probably noticed other symptoms such as loss of power/performance. Check to see that the distributor is clamped tight. It should not be able to rotate when you try to twist it with your hands (don't twist on the plastic cap).

A partially clogged radiator is a likely culprit on an old van. If you get that diagnosis from a shop, you could have it chemically flushed, which might get you by for a while. With labor prices through the roof, it's often best to replace the radiator. About $200 - $300. Look for one with metal core and metal tanks (not aluminum core and plastic tanks). If the standard OEM tank is two-row, then look for one with three rows for more cooling capacity.

You still haven't added an overflow/expansion tank. That results in spillage, which after a while leads to an unknown/unreliable coolant ratio, possible overheating, etc. And unless you check the radiator level before startup each time, you never know if it is full. Re-read the old thread - I wrote that you can use a Gatorade bottle if you can't afford the $20 - $30 for an aftermarket kit.
Jebus H Bomz

Peavine Basecamp
Apr 18, 2013 - 09:40am PT
The Peruvian pinata crew does have a sweet set up.

Happie needs to find herself a combination itinerant dirtbag mechanic slash ropegun.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 18, 2013 - 10:13am PT
I will be going to the mechanic's this morning.

John Beck - The oil is normal. The inside of oil cap is normal.

Juan Maderita - Thank you for your response. I did review the old thread as you suggested, as it seems to ME this issue is the underlying one which was not caught the last time.

Regarding the leak suggestions, and this is rhetorical, since I will be at the mechanics before anyone has a chance to reply - Wouldn't a leak have been detected by the pressure test which had been done?

The engine is not new, as KSolem thought I had said. But the van had only 65K miles on it when I bought it. It is old, 1990, but it is in no way a beater van.

So- I will let you know what happens, and I thank those who have been patient and generous with their time.

I am sorry that I got mad with Khanom's abusive words(and anyone who thinks that was not abusive maybe ought to think a little bit about the way they themselves treat others). I was emotionally exhausted after a day of fear, communicating over the issue with friends, selling gear, dealing with a town I don't know in a van that is in trouble.

Why ask here instead of a care forum? Because I have SEARCHED the car forums, and the response rate is fairly slow. Because I know, in person, many of the people on this forum. Why would it be okay to post threads about "creating the van set up" but not this? If someone cannot figure out how to do THAT, and people gladly step up offering all sorts of suggestions, why would THIS trip triggers in some of you???? Really? Ask yourself why you have to be a f*#k to another person... It might improve your life, if you can bear to look long enough at what is making you so volative and take actions to change.
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