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Old 11-21-2012, 11:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Noises, moisture, and paranoia...

So I've had my wagon for almost 2 weeks, and being the slightly OCD person that I am, I've become paranoid about every noise, every possible leak, and every quirk until I become accustomed to the joys and woes of ownership...

Saying that, I have 3 quick questions:
1. I can hear a fast tick/pft/slap sound from the passenger-side of the motor. My guess is something in the accessories. It comes and goes, esp after the car has warmed up in the mornings. I'm guessing it's something to do with the belt and maybe me having the defrost on. Something to worry about?

2. The cooling fan(s) run nearly constantly when sitting at idle. Is this normal on a Vulcan? It's running cool and coolant level appears good.

3. Speaking of coolant, I noticed a slight coolant smell coming from the vicinity of the overflow tank...this wouldn't concern me except there appears to be moisture collecting on the frame directly under the tank. I can't tell if this is a leak or just condensation, and if it is a leak, it's a very small one. I've had plenty of leaks on my Neon and most of them I never fixed and just topped up the coolant from time to time. How does this motor respond to things like this?

I think that's all for now. Please see my post under Suspension & Brakes about my shaking/vibration issues to see the extent of my paranoia lol.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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#1 - the noise might be caused by a little glaze on he belt or a pulley. A spray of WD-40 on the belt might make this go away. It will not cause slippage (WD-40 is not a lubricant) but will break up any spots of glaze that might be causeing the noise you describe.

#3 - Coolant tanks on these are prone to crack and leak. Replacements are available form Ford or places like Rock Auto. This is not an overflow tank. It is the reservoir for the radiator and the coolant is under pressure.

Just drive it.
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The tick/slap may be the A/C compressor engaging and disengaging. The A/C compressor runs in all heater selections EXCEPT for FLOOR, VENT, and OFF. Everything else runs the compressor to act as a dehumidifier and dry the air entering into the cab of the car. And if the A/C is running your cooling fans are going be running to cool down the refrigerant passing through the condensor in front of the radiator.

As stated already, the coolant reservoir on these cars are known to crack with age and leak. The reservoir is pressurized. Another thing it could be that is a known source is the timing chain cover. The coolant flown from the block, through the timing cover, into the water pump, and then back into the block. Over time and with age, the gasket will leak. You shouldn't have to worry about water getting into the oil as there is a channel in the timing cover to allow coolant to weep out the the cover. This however will cause you a coolant smell and the level to drop. Keep an eye on it and when it get's bad then change it. I drove my '97 for a year with a leaking timing cover gasket before changing it. Keep in mind the timing cover gasket is a time consuming task to replace. Took me about 10hours in the driveway.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd say the coolant tank is the culprit as far as the leak is concerned, but I just wanted to make sure it wasn't one of those little things that's a sign of eminent death...my Neon had a couple of things that seemed little but I ignored them and it was bad (i.e. a ticking sound from the accessory-side of the motor turned out to be a failing timing belt tensioner that, when it broke, took out the timing belt and bent half my valves in the process).

As far as the other stuff, the compressor noise makes sense. I've been running the defrost a lot on these cold mornings. I usually switch to VENT once it gets good and toasty...in my Neon you had to run the defrost hard to get anything to work but it didn't have working AC so that was probably why. I'm not used to a defrost that, you know, works. Lol
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- 1997 Dodge Neon - 2.0L SOHC - Red w/ Silver rally stripes - Mildly upgraded - 270K miles and still going...


"The point is, you see, that there is no point in driving yourself mad trying to stop yourself going mad. You might just as well give in and save your sanity for later."
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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#1 and #3 seem to have been answered.

#2 - No the fans should not run continuous unless you have the defrost or A/C running. So check them again when the car is hot with the climate controls off. When the compressor is running the fans will stay on low speed all the time unless the engine or A/C gets too hot and it switches to high speed operation.
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