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Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 920
Experience:  ASE Master Auto Tech, ASE L1, Jeep/Chrysler Dealer Tech, 18 yrs exp
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2007 dodge caliber sxt: overheated..radiator..coolant to the reservoir

Resolved Question:

I have a 2007 dodge caliber sxt, I bought it in Feb, and a a month ago it overheated. My stepdad flushed the radiator (w/water) and added coolant to the reservoir, he said I had no anitfreeze. (A few weeks earlier I just had the oil changed and the fluids checked!) The guy that towed my car suggested that I get my thermostat replaced, but after adding the coolant, the temp light went off and it drove fine, so my stepdad gave it back to me. I drove it up until last week when it overheat again, this time shutting off. (Before it did not shut off, I stopped and called for a tow) This time a DOT guy came to help and put a gallon-yes gallon, of antifreeze in my radiator and suggested that my thermostat needed to be replaced. (I had not been driving with the temp light on previously, since my stepdad added the coolant the light had not come back on at all until now. And this day every time it came on I pulled over, checked the antifreeze and waited for the light to go off and then drove again, I got to maybe a 2 mile stretch of tunnel and bridge and decided that I would try to make it through the tunnel that way if I had to be towed at least I'd be in the right city. I got just out of the tunnel before the car shut off , the temp light came on while I was coming through and there were a few beeps.) After the DOT guy added the coolant directly to the radiator (He also told me the cap was loose) the car started fine, and I drove it probably 20 miles to my stepdads house. This time he took it to a dealer, who replaced the radiator and the thermostat but says that the car is still overheating and that it failed a compression test. Any idea of what would be wrong? They are saying I may need an engine! I can't believe I just got this car, and I drove it 20miles, would I really need an engine? They said they won't know until they take it apart.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  Matt Hardy replied 6 years ago.

Matt Hardy :

Hello and welcome to Just Answer, my name is Matt.

Matt Hardy :

Sorry to hear about your problem...this is unfortunate.

Matt Hardy :

Years ago, when engines were made of cast-iron, you could overheat them pretty good, then repair the coolant leak, and get back on the road.

Matt Hardy :

Modern engines are usually aluminum, which is more easily damaged by overheating. Aluminum expands more when overheated.

Matt Hardy :

The excessive expansion can warp the cylinder head an cause head gasket failure.

Matt Hardy :

And usually head gasket failure leads to more severe overheating.

Matt Hardy :

Here's what the dealer technician should do......

Matt Hardy :

Remove the cylinder head. Then they will use a precision straight-edge tool and feeler gauges to measure the warpage of the cylinder head sealing surface. If it is warped beyond specs, then the cylinder head must be replaced.

Matt Hardy :

They will also use the same method to check the block (where the cylinder head mates to the block). If it is warped beyond specs, then the engine must be replaced.

Matt Hardy :

If you are lucky, only a new head gasket will be required.

Matt Hardy :

But most likely, it will need a new cylinder head as well.

Matt Hardy :

It is possible thatt he car has this problem when you bought it. Many times, cars are traded in when they have an expensive problem, or a problem that is difficult to solve.

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