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2010 Dodge Journey SXT with the 3rd row heating stuff

Home Forums Stay Dirty Lounge Service and Repair Questions Answered Here 2010 Dodge Journey SXT with the 3rd row heating stuff

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  • #997704
    Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

      specs: 2010 Journey SXT with the V6 and AWD. Has the rear HVAC setup.

      Driving to work on Monday the Journey suddenly overheated. Pulled off the road within seconds and noted a lot of steam and dripping. Was towed back to our work area (I do side work on our own family cars as a hobby) Used a pressure tester the next day and discovered the rear “T” for the heater core to rear HVAC was leaking. It has no visible cracks-but under pressure it was hissing and spiting coolant.

      Obtained a repair kit and installed it yesterday. (Also replaced the upper radiator hose, as it was getting weak) Refilled the system with the correct 50/50 mixture. Noted it only took a gallon. (figured it should be more considering how much it left on the highway). Started it up and did the usual purge procedure.

      The ol’ girl did send some air bubbles up and out. The temp on the gauge was dead center. So I stopped when it hit the normal operating mark. (I did feel the upper hose getting warm) Added a bit more coolant so the level was correct. Then I noticed zero heat in the Journey. Both front and rear units blowing ice cold air. Figured it probably had a large air pocket, so I drove it a short distance so the nose of the ol’ girl was pointed upwards more. (My family lives on a hilly road) Still no heat. I then noticed the temp gauge was starting to creep up to the 3/4 mark and about to trigger the overheat warning. Parked it and shut it down.

      The entire system then started to act like one of the old school coffee pots (and pretty violent with the steam blowing into the overflow jug.) I then reached my hand to the rear heat pipes- Stone cold. Same for the front heat pipes. The upper radiator hose was extremely hot, as well the lower hose at the “t” junction where it puts the overflow hose into the lower radiator hose. So one would think it has circulation. But judging my how much steam pressure that was being generated- I have a feeling that’s what I was feeling at the hoses.

      Part of me thinks it’s air locked and didn’t purge correctly. The other part of me is thinking the part that failed was just a symptom and the water pump failed. (pump fails=rapid increase in pressure while at highway speeds=boom)

      Would there be any quick and dirty methods to check for a potential bad water pump? I’m thinking pulling the heater hose under the intake and pointing it into a bucket. If the water pump is functional- It should purge any air in the block and spew out. (Thought process: Water pump will always circulate to the heater core during engine warm up. If the system is air locked to the heater cores, a wide open path at the source should pump freely.)

      Thought it might be a stuck thermostat, but that should still allow coolant to circulate to the heater cores. If it turns out to be a dead water pump- I’ll probably do a trifecta (timing belt, water pump, and thermostat at the same time)

      Any ideas are welcome as mentioned. This is our daily driver, and I’m using the wife’s “summer fun car” for the next few days.


    Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
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      EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

        It does seem like it might be a circulation problem, but if it were me I’d be checking for a head gasket failure. More info here.

        Good hunting.

        Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

          We’ll chase down both options. Hopefully it’s not a head gasket. The fact it seems to have zero coolant flow to the heater core(s) is very interesting. I’ll have to see if I can ‘rent’ the block test tool. I already own one, but the vacuum bulb grew feet out of the toolbox. (Between the mice and the racoons, I’m lucky to have any tools left…)

          What’s your impression on the best way to check circulation? Do you think pulling the heater hose off the engine and letting it ‘rip’ might yield results.

          We’re also do for the timing belt service as well. Told the wife we might have to do both the water pump and the belt at the same time. Really hopeful it’s not a head gasket. I can deal with doing the water pump and timing belt- However I have to question if this Dodge is worthy of pulling the upper half of the engine apart. I still think it was built on a Friday. It gave my late sister nothing but trouble.

          Thanks!! Have a super day


          EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

            I like using a thermal camera to check circulation, but you can also use a cheap infrared thermometer to do the same thing.

            Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

              Sadly I lack some of the toys. I told the wife the quickest way to check would be to simply unhook the heater hoses and to direct the flow to a catch bucket. Not quite ‘high tech’. But we had what seems like zero coolant flow to the front heater core and the rear heater core. Dodge uses some really strange plumbing on these dual cores. The pipes coming out of the engine where pretty hot!! But the pipe work at the heater cores themselves were stone cold.

              But if we have flow? It should come out with a moderate force. If nothing comes out of the heater hoses? I’m guessing the water pump is either totally air bound (and unable to pump due to an air cavity) or broken. The pump looks to be plastic on a steel shaft.

              We’ll spend some time tomorrow running some tests on it. I’m also planning on ‘renting’ another block tester just to check for exhaust gases in the coolant. This does seem like some really bad violent boil over- I had coolant issues with our old Bronco- It always started rough with issues due to coolant in the cylinders. I’m surprised that this 3.5 is still running smooth as silk during all this.

              I’ll report back tomorrow once we spend some time on it. Was thinking about heading up when I got out of work today- But the saying is “Stay Dirty” (which I seem to manage better then Pig Pen), but not “Heat Stroke” as it was pushing 90 when I got off shift. Tomorrow isn’t going to be much better, but an early start we should beat the heat.


              Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

                Update to the update.

                Wow…HOT day today. But we spent some diag time on this one. Topped off the overflow jug with the 50/50. Disconnected the heater hose at the top of the engine. Removed fuel pump fuse and cranked it.

                Zero coolant flow. Then went to one of our old ‘tricks’ we used to need to do on our VW. Took a shop vac to the heater connection at the rear of the engine. It was dry as a popcorn fart. Did the same to the hose that was connected to it. It finally drew the overflow jug just about bone dry and got a solid prime on the heater system. Had no choice but to drop in a gallon of distilled water for the next top off. (We are fully aware we’ll need to do a full drain and refill once this is worked out)

                This time we started the engine with zero flow to the heaters, and then we hit it with the shop vac. The overflow jug went about 1/2 more empty and then she started flowing like a garden hose. (not a lot of pressure behind the flow- But it was flowing.)

                Reattached the hose and let it warm up. It stabilized about where it should be, and had decent heat on the front and rear heater. Went for a test drive and it promptly overheated after about a mile. (not bad, but was starting to creep up) Returned back to home plate. I did notice if I cranked up the rear heater the temp did float down a touch. So I think we have some flow in the system, but I think it’s not enough. First thought would be a stopped up thermostat. (reduced flow to the front radiator=over heat) However both radiator hoses where under very high pressure and hotter then the sun!.

                Did a block test. It passed. The “Smurf Pee” didn’t change from blue to yellow. Test preformed while cold and for a very short while when it was trying to overheat. Looks like we had no exhaust fumes, but a lot of steam pressure.

                Think it’s time to fire the parts cannon. Unless anything else comes to mind I’ll order in a timing belt kit with water pump. (it’s already a bit overdue for the timing belt to be serviced) And at the same time replace the thermostat & housing sense I’ll already be hip deep into this monster.

                Given the fact with the heater hose 100% removed and wide open- That water pump should have been more then able to give a decent flow with some pressure behind it. While it did have a likely air pocket, Being wide open it should have been able to push that puppy out. The fact we needed to use a shop vac to suck it out– Really leaves me to question the water pump.

                That’s about all we have- It’s in the 80’s already and we’re opposed to sweating 🙂


                EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

                  Thank you for the updates. Please keep us posted if you find a solution.

                  Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

                    Update to this oddity.

                    Spent some time doing the tear down. Word to the wise: Some youtube videos that claim to be for ‘your’ car or truck? Double check. I’ll have to reseal the lower coolant hose intake to the block. (Thermostat is on the top on a 3.5, and not the bottom as some state)

                    Okay, enough whining. Replaced the thermostat. Removed the parts on the ‘front’ of the engine and after several hours (and even more cuss words due to rust) Had the water pump in my hands. The pump is fine. Impeller is attached to the shaft just fine and intact.

                    Now I’m glad to have pulled that apart- The timing belt is about 10k overdue for replacement and the belt was the factory and had a few fine cracks starting to form. The water pump I think was replaced (no branding) and does have some minor lateral play with the bearings in the pump. So yeah, those parts are due to be replaced.

                    Currently it’s sitting in pieces until next week when I get a couple of days off. Found the K-Frame is badly rusted out. From a safety standpoint it’s not ‘at risk’ at this time. But there is now a 2″ round rust hole dead center. I’m looking into replacement IF we can get the cooling issues worked out.

                    We took the thermostat back home and I dropped it into a pan with water at a rolling boil. The thermostat did open, but only about a millimeter. Being in a pot of boiling water that sucker should have gone full open. Just a crack of about 1/8″? Naaa, glad I replaced it.

                    So, the plan is to reseal the lower radiator hose intake. Dodge used an O-ring. Of course, it’s not available to purchase separately. Going to give the mounting surface a light coating of black RTV and snug the bolts down. (OF course, the bolts are pointed right into the A/C compressor)

                    Once the timing belt and water pump are installed, I’ll use the shop vac trick to purge out the engine block and cores. Maybe the cracked “Y” for the heater core caused the overheat and that took out the thermostat. I really do not know. But it’s going to be reassembled and I’ll see how it goes. If it’s back to normal and not overheating- I’ll look into the K-Frame as it’s due for inspection this month.


                    EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

                      Keep us posted and good hunting.

                      Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

                        Okay, another day spent with the Journey and Mosquitos (I need to buy more bug spray)

                        The engine is back together. 3.5 Dodge engine with the overhead cam’s are a “treat” to line up. I think we have the rear cam in the correct spot? It took several tires, and it kept going off a tooth *grr* The wife stopped in to see how I was making out, so I had her loosen the tensioner and while the belt was all loose like, I used a 18mm wrench and kicked it over a tooth. (Took the tension off, and the cam rotated while the belt stayed put.

                        That seems to have lined it up. Found a nice trick worked out well for purging air out. I removed that heater hose from the back of the engine and slowly filled the system with about 2 gallons of 50/50 until it started out of the port. Ran the engine (it was NOT happy at first, the battery was disconnected for over a week!) She settled down and the heat started in the passenger area.

                        Upper radiator hose is kind of warm after it sits and idles for a while. It does have a new thermostat. I let it idle for about 10 minutes and the temperature gauge stayed in the middle. The coolant level? Almost over flowed. (I left the cap off in case it had more air.) I shut her off and put the cap on. Let it sit for a short while and rechecked. Coolant level stayed about mid-range in the overflow tank- Heat works okay. (it’s never been that great- the heater cores in the Journeys pretty much just ‘Suck’)

                        So, I left it sitting for a while just idling along and it stayed in the mid-range on the gauge. It didn’t seem to overheat, and it didn’t go off like a demented coffee pot on crack.

                        I picked up new hardware for what’s left of the K-Frame. Dodge uses a cross member that holds an engine mount to keep the engine from twisting. All those bolts where just about rotted apart. Plan is to attach it with new hardware- Probably use a thread chaser on the receiving nuts inside the k-frame. And take it out for a few miles for a test drive. It overheats within a couple of miles, so I’ll know really fast if the issue remains or is solved. Even though it didn’t overheat while sitting at idle-nothing is a better test then the engine under load.


                        Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

                          Sunday update (I know…a bit late)

                          Finished up the bulk of the repairs and cobbled together the lower k-frame for a test drive. Had my scan tool monitoring only the coolant temp. (faster refresh that way.)

                          195′ Thermostat. While driving around it maintained 192-200 and fluctuated between the two. (Looks like the thermostat is working and regulating the temp for an average of 195) Went for about a 10-mile drive with the AC running and it seems okay.

                          Parked it and let it idle again for about 10 minutes. This time it rose up to 210′ and held there with the electric fan running. It doesn’t seem to have much-if any pressure on the radiator hoses? (Can’t see any leaks but will pressure test to be sure.) Planning on a new radiator cap as well. Just in case that one is not allowing pressure to build.

                          The wife wondered about why it was running 195 while driving around and then settling in at 210 while parked. I let her know it’s probably normal considering the electric fan won’t be as efficient as driving down the road at 50 mph.

                          So, I think the cooling issue is resolved (and some much-needed maintenance is completed). I’ve got a lead on a replacement K-Frame. Not cheap by any means, but it won’t pass inspection with a case of the ‘rots’.

                          As a side note, and maybe Eric and the crew here can see if I’m right, or if the ‘parts jockey’ was correct. I mentioned the upper hose had almost no pressure on it after my test drive. He goes off and states the water pump has to be replaced, as the water pump is what is building up the pressure and is clearly faulty. I mentioned that the water pump only is in charge of circulating the fluid, and that the pressure is from expansion and the system is designed to operate at pressure to raise the boiling point of the coolant/distilled water. Hotter the engine/coolant will equal expansion and pressure. The cap is meant to retain about 18-20lbs of pressure to raise the boiling point and makes for more efficient cooling.

                          He stated I was incorrect and that our aftermarket water pump was defective. I tried to explain you can have ‘flow’ without pressure, but he wasn’t having it.

                          Ah well. It’s still parked for the time being. Should have the K-Frame in the next few days.


                          EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

                            Thank you for the updates. Water pumps don’t build pressure, they create volume. Pressure is created by a resistance to flow, not volume. If you’re not overheating and the fans are working correctly, then you’re probably fine. Don’t go looking for problems if there aren’t any. However, I don’t think replacing the radiator cap is a bad idea. That will do more for the upper hose than a water pump would. Even so, the upper hose does not have to be firm for the system to work correctly.

                            Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

                              Thanks for setting the argument. I told the parts jockey that the water pump only circulates fluid. As things expand due to heat that will create the pressure and the system uses that pressure to raise the boiling point of the 50/50. He was adamant that I had it wrong and was trying to argue that with me.

                              Yeah, I’m not trying to look for menace in our shadows out here. Radiator cap was actually found to be bad on the last 2 cars we’ve driven around. You’d be amazed (Well, probably not you personally) how much difference a correct functional radiator cap can make.

                              We’re going to move forward with a tear down of the front end/frame section on Sunday. If everything plays nice, I should be able to remove the rotted-out K-Frame and have things ready for putting back together on Wednesday.

                              Thanks again!


                              Stephen BowenStephen Bowen

                                Okay, short update on this ongoing crap show.

                                Finally got this to pass a state inspection. During the initial test drives I noted that the engine took a lot of time to ‘warm up’. Then it tripped a CEL for “Thermostat/Engine temp low”. (thankfully after the state inspection) Scan tool revealed a few interesting details. The engine seems to be taking a long time before it hits at least 170′. (The thermostat is supposed to be 195) And sense it’s getting colder, quickly noticed the heat on the HVAC wasn’t really ‘hot’ but luke warm.

                                We also noticed the coolant level seemed to be slowly dropping in the jug. Now I did a pressure test on the system, and it holds 18lbs for a while. Keeping in mind my pressure tester was an old NAPA one that I picked up from the flea market for $10 bucks and slowly drops pressure due to a duff connection. So, it started at 18lbs and about an hour later it was 12. Zero signs of any coolant leaking, Engine runs like a top! Zero white smoke (or any smoke) out of the tail pipe. Oil was changed before this started- Oil is clean and no sign of coolant) Upon the last drive the level was noted to be in about the same spot, and it didn’t seem to have any vanish. Now I have read that some water pumps actually advertise they will leak a bit of fluid for up to 2 weeks before sealing fully. We have no sign of any drips or leakage. Unsure what to make of that.

                                I picked up another 195 thermostat with gasket this morning and will be changing it tomorrow morning. The fact the engine was running to ‘cold’ would explain why the upper hose didn’t seem to have pressure on it. Probably once it hits the 195 mark and starts to correctly regulate the engine temperature that will likely change a bit.

                                So right out of the box the new thermostat would appear to be defective (stuck open). Hope the one I picked up from NAPA will be better. The wife hinted we should just drive it until we change it. I mentioned “If the ‘stat stuck ‘open’ then it’s easy to think it can also stick ‘closed’ and then we start this process all over again.” I considered the option someone put the wrong part in the box. But this takes foreverrrrrrrr for it to get any heat in the passenger compartment and the gauge moves up super slow.

                                Should be interesting to see what’s going on with that thermostat once it’s removed. If it’s actually ‘closed’ I’ll give it the water treatment and see how fast it opens.


                                EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

                                  Thermostat operation is critical on modern engines. The fuel injection bases its fuel map off of engine temperature. Personally, I always use OE thermostats as a result.

                                  Also, thermostats do not create pressure. That is the job of the radiator cap, which also helps maintain proper temperature. Radiator caps are also important to the cooling system operation. Much of this was covered in the Engine Overheat article I linked for you. I believe it also has this video embedded.

                                  Please continue to keep us posted.

                                  Stephen BowenStephen Bowen


                                    When I removed the upper hose usually it won’t ‘gush’ until you pull the thermostat. I pulled the hose and it gushed about 1 quarts. Upon removing the thermostat, yep. Stuck wide open.

                                    The thermostat was replaced. Engine still takes a bit to warm up, but it makes it to 195′ as expected. Upon driving it hovers around 190-200. In town with reduced air flow, it hits about 215ish and then the electric fan kicks on and it maintains about 210 at that point.

                                    Seems about right. I reset the CEL and will give it a few short drives to ensure it’s okay. As a side note, the radiator hoses now have a bit of pressure build up.

                                    I called around and the cheapest one I found at the dealership was $42 plus tax. We’re on a shoestring budget, so I went with the NAPA house brand. Also, a “Motorad” which was the same brand that failed. The ‘cheap’ one seems to be doing well. The ‘premium’ one has a brass-colored collar/ring inside the ‘hat’ that holds the wax pellet. The thermostat seems to have opened and kicked sidewise and caught on the insert/collar and the entire thing tilted and jammed open.

                                    I did refill the overflow jug. Drove it around about 20 miles… Level didn’t change. (This thing is a PITA to purge air) This morning the level was down about 2″ from yesterday. I’ll keep an eye on it. Wish I had the $$ for that vacuum assist refilling system I’ve seen used. That’s wicked cool.



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