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Jerry, Master Mechanic
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 1754
Experience:  ASE Master tech, 30 years exp. troubleshooter, driveability tech
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My 2003 Dodge Ram Van 5.2liter overheated when a freeze plug

Customer Question

My 2003 Dodge Ram Van 5.2liter overheated when a freeze plug blew.
JA: Have you checked the coolant? Have you checked for a leak in the cooling system?
Customer: My 2003 Dodge Ram Van 5.2liter overheated when a freeze plug blew.
JA: Are you fixing your Ram yourself? What have you tried so far?
Customer: Every time I hit return, this software sends my message. I Desire more than a one-sentence question. How can I achieve this?
JA: Anything else you want the mechanic to know before I connect you?
Customer: Let me try typing until the text box is filled and see if the text auto-wraps, since I desire to detail ALL . Okay, it does, I will start over.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  roy replied 7 months ago.

good afternoon my name is ***** ***** I will assist

I assume you replaced the one bad one, what about the others???

how bad did it overheat???


Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Those questions you ask me indicate you have not yet read my input.
Your reply is massively inappropriate and just wasting my time, so far.
Please give me someone who reads better.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Sorry, your site is confusing me.
Here is a better-posed question and the one I THOUGHT you had read:My 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 Van 5.2liter overheated soon after I had done a long-leaking plenum gasket after a previous more minor overheating when a freeze plug blew.
I ran the van without coolant for the one year it took me to realize the freeze plugs were weeping coolant slowly and from unexpected places.
So another freeze plug rapidly blows and this time the overheating is more instant and severe.
Once again, there is oil in the air plenum but this time there is also water in the oil. I figured I had blown a head gasket, but instead, find a cavity in the #6 piston lower perimeter, about 1/2” wide, running a tapered overall length of 1” along the outside piston circumference, down to at least the top-most ring, as I can see the seemingly intact ring. Some tramp aluminum film seems fused to the cylinder wall in the piston failure area, but the pistons seem to still freely rotate, as I cleaned the cylinder walls and rotated the engine to inspect all the cylinder bores. Although the van engine was still in missing-but-running-condition when disassembled, I regret I never did a compression check.
The van was bought new by me in 2003 and has 130,000 around-town miles.
The head gaskets and plenum gaskets all seemed intact, upon disassembly.
I have removed the plenum stamped sheet metal bottom and see no evidence of gasket failure or plenum casting failure. I have heard this is hard to diagnose. Should I “scope” the unseen passages?
Would just a hole in one piston cause oil to be in the water in the crankcase oil and also watery oil in the air plenum? So far, that is all we can find wrong.
Seems there must be a casting crack somewhere?
Seems not too tough to seal the passages and do some vacuum pumping or compressing to check for casting failure. Any suggestions here?
I seek to know the cause of why only the number six piston looks badly. It also has some aluminum flakes bonded to the top.
I have cleaned the heads, rotated the crankshaft and inspected cylinder walls and can find no cracks.
I wish to keep this van, as the interior is built out for my business.
Can just one piston be removed without removing the engine?
Could a hole in a piston result from the rapid loss of coolant thru a fully-blown freeze plug at highway speed?
Are the crankshaft and camshaft likely damaged from this same overheating?
Can the oil pan and a piston be removed with the engine still in the vehicle?
What is the time to remove an engine with the heads already off from this vehicle?
Does the engine remove from the front, rear or below?
The van is currently sitting normally in the concrete driveway.
Maybe it is time to buy or rent an engine stand?
I would appreciate any advice on all of this.
Expert:  roy replied 7 months ago.

there is nothing there but you blew a freeze plug, nothing else.

I read perfectly thank you

Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 7 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!

A hole in a piston will obviously cause a miss but it isn't going to cause coolant in the oil. Coolant in the oil has to be a head, headgasket, intake gasket or block issue.

Is there no visible damage to the cylinder wall?
Have the heads been pressure tested at a machine shop?

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