2002 Jeep Cherokee 112000 miles leaking coolant

katmeg99April 10, 2007

For the past few months I have had to replace the coolant. The intervals are getting closer together such that now I have to fully refill the coolant every 8 days. In December I replaced the radiator cap (the original cap was tested and the seal was broken so I bought a new one). That obviously didn't correct the problem. I am not seeing any puddles of coolant under the car. Any ideas where the leak is and how to fix it?

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Not sure about the jeeps but a lot of the chevy engines (Vortech) had intake manifold gasket sealing problems allowing coolant to seep into the cylinder and mix with fuel and be burned, so no puddles, just a loss of coolant and sometimes if the condition was allowed to worsen a engine misfire due to fouled spark plugs. A competent repair facility should be able to pressure test your coolant system and identify the leaking area.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 9:59AM
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What engine do you have?

If you have a GM V-6, it may be leaking at the intake manifold gaskets.

Below is a list applicable to all models:

1. Radiator tubes on right side where they fasten to the end tank.

2. Overflow hose from the raditor cap to the overflow bottle. Look under this hose.

3. Bottom of overflow bottle.

4. At this mileage, water pump is suspect.

5. Heater hoses especially at any 90 degree bends. Lift up the hose. It may have cracked at the bend and when laying down temporarily seals the crack, but opens up under pressure.

6. Upper and lower radiator hoses. The upper one fails more often than the lower since it runs hotter.

7. Leaks at the hose clamps

8. Heater core. Lets hope its not here because there is quite a bit of labor to replace this part. My experience with Cherokees indicate that the heater core is long lived and rarely a problem. If the heater core leaks, it may emit an oder detectible by the occupants. A leak here may be caught by the drip pan and exit by a drain hose near the fire wall.

Travel on rough roads, especially ones with long stretches of washboards can shorten the life of the radiator.

If the leak can not be found, take it to a shop equipped to do a flourescent dye trace. A leak at the intake manifold must not be ignored but corrected immediately, else engine damage may result.

If you suspect fluid is leaking into the crankcase, check the condition of the oil. Pull the dipstick and look at the oil on it. Oil comtaminated with coolant will have a brownish, syrupy appearance.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 2:28AM
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The 2 most common leaks are the water pump and the radiator seams.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 7:19AM
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Take it to a shop. They'll have a cooling system pressure tester. They'll pump it up to 15 lbs, or whatever the stock pressure cap is, and let it set. Odds are it will drip then, probably from a number of places. Could also be a number of other things as others have pointed out. Odds are its the water pump or hose.

A few weeks ago my coolant light was coming on after less than 10 miles of a 30 mile trip. Filled it up twice a day for a couple weeks till I could take a look at it. I happen to have a pressure tester. When I checked mine, the question wasn't where does it leak, it was where doesn't it leak. LOL! It is a 20 year old car. The worst leak on mine was where the water pump bolted onto the engine on the right side, conveniently located under and behind the ac compressor, one mounting bolt located conveniently behind the ac clutch, fuel injection lines conveniently placed through, not around, the ac mounting bracket. The ac lines were ALMOST long enough to move things out of the way, ALMOST. @#$%!! A second semi large leak was from the bypass hose. Tightened the water pump bolts, tightened the hose clamp on the bypass hose. There were also a few smaller leaks at other hose clamps. Mission accomplished...so far anyway. Haven't had to add coolant for a month now. Took me two hours and had to buy another torx socket to fit that stupid bolt behind the ac clutch.

Sound like fun? I would have thought so in my 20's. Now I'm 50. Not fun for me anymore.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 12:57PM
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radiator tank, hoses, throttle body, inlet manifold, radiator grille, water pump, thermostat, car heater....

If it's the car heater you just find where the hoses/pipes go into the firewall and join them together with a 50c poly connector and bypass the heater- easy !

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 12:45AM
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I want to know what is the matter with the mechanics, especially at the dealerships - Chrysler Dodge Jeep to be exact? This scenario is lengthy to say the least!
I had the radiator flushed and pressure tested at the local Chrysler dealership who has been servicing my Jeep since my purchase in 2004, last tested and flushed two years ago @ 64,000 miles because I was experiencing pouring coolant into the reservoir every time I turned around. Funny thing was there was no evidence as to where it was going because it didn't show up on the ground. I kept asking, "Where's it going, back into the engine?" Chrysler looked all over under the car and couldn't locate any drips! Funny thing is a few months later when I became extremely aggitated with the local Chrysler mechanic, and the problem worsened and when I took it back to the local Chrysler dealership, they stated nothing was found once again, I took it to a supposedly 5-star Chrysler dealership in another town, and I was informed there was a hole in the radiator. The local Chrysler service manager said, as I thought he would, "You could have gotten a hole just from driving from here to there if a stone popped up." Jeeps have a grille that protects the radiator. I was advised by friends to go to a local mechanic so I had a new aluminum radiator installed (2 yr warranty on parts only). I was still adding coolant and kept complaining to Chrysler and the local mechanic. All of a sudden, all the lights came on the dash, I popped the hood and checked the coolant - it was empty. Checked the radiator after it cooled down and there was no coolant - it was all on the ground. Called the local mechanic who said to take the car to his shop right away. So, a friend filled the radiator and reservoir as full as possible since it came out as fast as put in, so I could quickly drive 5 miles down the road. The plug popped out of this new radiator. And, by the way, the local mechanic swore the radiator was a Chrysler product, yet the Chrysler mechanic couldn't find any emblems that would indicate that fact. The coolant leak continued, now putting coolant in every few days. The local mechanic said it was going to the floorboard under the mat on passenger side because I need a new heater core. Do you see where this is going? After that installation, the coolant still needed to be added every 5-8 days. I was advised that is normal until things get back to normal flow. Now my dash was not reinstalled properly and I have flapper air ducts added to my console in front of the manufacture air ducts that the local mechanic stated was part of my system and it was always there, a busted speaker, a resistor that has since been replaced because I was advised by the local mechanic that is why the A/C and Htr were sporadically operating. Meanwhile the coolant is still being added by me every 5-8 days, and once in a while sooner as soon as all the lights come on and I find the reservoir is empty. The out of town Chrysler mechanic looked at the underneath when I showed them pictures of the puddles in my driveway, and advised me the undercarriage is showing no signs of dripping. The next morning, the drips caused even a larger puddle overnight that I took pictures again. the local Chrysler dealer mechanic installed a new heater hose that was supposedly defective (but I asked for all hoses and belts to be replaced at 100k miles and was told they were all fine and the local mechanic replaced the upper and lower radiator hoses). I still was adding coolant every 10 days or less. Finally, after nearly a year of putting up with the incompetency of the mechanics, I demanded a new radiator from the local mechanic who did not guarantee his labor. Mind you, the dripping was now larger than just puddles in the aluminum tray under the car in my carport. I picked up my car this morning, except it needed jumping because the service rep at the Chrysler dealership advised me the WalMart 1 year old battery with a 3-yr life expectancy (3rd replacement in 5 yrs) is bad. Walmart tested the battery with the hand held tester then took the battery out and retested, and it was fine. So, I replaced the connectors to see if that would make a difference. I drove it home, parked it in my carport, went in the house for a few minutes after turning off the engine, and what did I see after 4 hrs of having my SUV in my possession, but new coolant on the white towel I placed on the carport to catch the residue the local Chrysler mechanic told me I would most likely experience. The radiator removed yesterday was returned to the local mechanic, who turned it into the parts supply house for a replacement. The local mechanic was extremely insulting when I advised him today that I was returning the 2nd radiator for a complete refund because both radiators blew at the seams (the clamps holding the radiator's aluminum wires in tact-1st radiator on the right and the 2nd one on the left). The local Chrysler mechanic pressure tested the last radiator and checked under the carriage and saw no leaks before he released it to me. When he pressure tested it upon my return, we could hear water running and see it squirting all over the top of the radiator. I thought my radiator experience starting more than 2 yrs ago was highly unusual, but what do I know? The local mechanic, at my insistance, called the parts supplier - refund will be delivered in a few days and the radiator will be collected. In the meantime, I sit with no radiator and a dilemma. I saw white drops all over the previous radiator and this last one that was removed today. When inquiring of the local Chrysler mechanic and service rep, when I picked up the last removed radiator to deliver to the local mechanic, I was advised that it was nothing, just splatterings. Chrysler parts dept ordered a new radiator from 1-800-radiator because the price was $200 compared with nearly $400 if I ordered a Chrysler radiator. I paid Chrysler $285 for labor including coolant to install the previous radiator that the local mechanic wanted $300+. The removal was free today, but I paid for a rental car now for 2 days. When Napa quoted me $150 today for their radiator with a lifetime guarantee, I immediately called 1-800-radiator to see how much I would have had to pay, instead of Chrysler, for that radiator. The salesperson knows mechanics and warned me, after I told him briefly my dilemma of installing another radiator, and he advised me about electrolysis and the cost will be on me if that is the culprit for my radiator problems. After researching on the Internet, I am now thinking there is something to that analyzation. I've been complaining about an electrical problem for a very long time - more than 2 yrs., but no one found anything wrong; and as I said, the battery has not lasted its warranty periods, and yesterday the license plate connector was burnt. Supposedly, after uninstalling an after market alarm system the previous owner had installed, it was to prevent any electrical problems from occurring. I replaced the heater core about 6 months ago, which three years ago the local Chrysler dealership replaced as well. Do you see the picture? Who in the hell can I trust with my vehicle if the two dealerships don't know what they are doing when one of them is a 5-star????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????? Any ideas? I even tried to get Chrysler Corp involved. The next thing I knew the Service Manager was replaced with another, but I didn't get anywhere else with them, no recoup. The next thing is BAR and BBB for all four of them including Chrysler Corporate!!!!!!!! And, maybe Fox investigative team would like to hear about this!!!!! What do you think? I had a similar problem with my rear differential, and although I complained to Chrysler Corp because I had just paid for the differential service 6 months prior and they should have seen the metal flakes. Now, I read that the crankcase and metal flakes can have something to do with the electrical system and grounding that can also cause electrolysis in the radiator. WOW!!!!!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 6:40AM
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