As you're probably already aware, the 3.8L V6 engine in your Chrysler (Dodge or Plymouth) mini-van has two head gaskets.
In this tutorial I'm gonna' explain how to perform the 4 tests that are done to find out if a head gasket is blown or not.
Two of those four tests can be done without any tools. The other two require a compression tester and a block tester (combustion leak tester).
With your test results you'll be able to find out if you have a blown head gasket on your hands or not.
Contents of this tutorial:
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar Los Empaques De Cabeza (3.8L V6 Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth Min-Van) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 3.8L V6 Chrysler Town & Country: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.
- 3.8L V6 Dodge Grand Caravan: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.
- 3.8L V6 Plymouth Voyager: 1994, 1995, 1996.
- 3.8L V6 Plymouth Grand Voyager: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999.
Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket
Depending on the severity of the head gasket failure, the engine will 'crank but not start' or the engine will start but overheat within minutes.
Here's a basic list of the most common symptoms a blown head gasket:
- The engine overheats.
- White smoke is coming out of the tail-pipe and it smells like anti-freeze being cooked.
- The engine does not start.
- The engine oil is thick and a tan to off-white color (mixed with coolant).
Whether the engine starts and overheats or doesn't start, this tutorial will help you find out if the problem is due to a blown head gasket problem.
TEST 1: Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer
One of the most common end results of a blown head gasket is engine oil mixed with coolant.
When this happens, the engine oil (in the crankcase) looks like 'coffee with too much creamer'.
You can very easily confirm this by pulling out engine oil dipstick and checking the color of the oil sticking to it.
If the engine oil looks like 'coffee with too much creamer', then you can conclude that one or both head gaskets are blown.
If the engine oil is OK, then the next test is TEST 2.
This is what you need to do:
Open the hood on your 3.8L V6 equipped mini-van.
Pull out the engine's oil dipstick.
Check what the color of the oil is and how thick it is.
You'll see one of two things:
1.) The oil on the dipstick is a creamy, off-white color and is thick as syrup.
2.) The oil is its normal color and viscosity.
Let's examine your test result:
CASE 1: The engine oil looks like 'coffee with too much creamer'. This confirms that one or both head gaskets are blown on your 3.8L V6 equipped Chrysler (Dodge or Plymouth) mini-van.
CASE 2: The color of the engine oil is normal. This is the correct and expected test result.
The next step is to check to see if compression/exhaust gases are leaking into the cooling system. Go to: TEST 2: Exhaust Gases Shooting Out Of The Radiator.